Airbnb ordered to disclose details of its rental hosts in Munich

Germany: Airbnb has been ordered to disclose details about its rental hosts in the city of Munich to the city’s local authority.

The Munich administrative court approved the disclosure, saying it was necessary to help the City of Munich undertake monitoring under local housing laws.

While Airbnb enables people to rent out their homes to tourists home owners in Munich are prohibited from entering into short term leases for a period of over eight weeks in one calendar year unless they obtain prior approval from the city authorities.

The law has been introduced to address the shortage of housing in Munich.

The City of Munich asked Airbnb to provide it with any advertisements for rooms in the city which exceeded the longest possible lease period. From January 2017 to July this year, it ordered Airbnb to disclose the addresses of the apartments offered as well as the names and addresses of the hosts themselves.

Airbnb challenged the request before the administrative court in Munich but its complaint was dismissed.

The court ruled that Airbnb would have to comply with national laws of Germany because of its activities within the country, despite its registered offices being in Ireland.

The court then held that the request for information was permissible under EU law. It said that Airbnb was obliged to divulge the names and addresses of the hosts to the municipal authorities as it acts as an intermediary via its short-term rental platform.

The court added that any disclosure of personal data would not conflict with data protection law. In addition, it deemed the Munich authority’s threat to impose a €300,000 fine on Airbnb if it did not comply with its information request to be lawful.

Technology law expert Nadia Hammouda of Pinsent Masons told that the ruling had potential implications for Airbnb and its hosts in other German cities and suggested Airbnb would appeal against the judgment.

Hammouda said: “If the judgement becomes legally binding, Airbnb must communicate the names and addresses of the hosts who then may face fines if they are found to have exceeded the limit on short term leases in Munich. Other cities, such as Berlin, also have corresponding statutes but since the legal position in these cities is slightly different, the ruling in Munich cannot necessarily be applied to those cities too.

“However, it can be expected that some of the cities may follow the City of Munich’s approach,” she added.