No Country for Apartments: Airbnb in Berlin

My 13-year-old son and I had the trip of a lifetime planned to Germany and Austria. I travel to Germany often so I know my way around. We stayed in Hilton hotels in most of the cities in which we only stayed for three or four days before going to Berlin. We both love Berlin and stayed in apartments the last two times we were there. Unfortunately, the company I used to use to book the apartments has gone out of business due to a new law in Germany restricting the renting of apartments due to tax issues. I decided to book through Airbnb and found a great apartment for 16 days. I booked with the owner and paid for the apartment several months ahead of time. I printed the instructions from the owners a week before the trip and started our trip to Germany on June 15th, 2016.

We were having an enjoyable time until we showed up to pick up the keys from a bar in Prinzlauerberg after a nine-hour train ride from Vienna. It seems that Germany, or at least Berlin, has just enacted a law that doesn’t allow people to rent apartments using any service like Airbnb legally for less than 30 days. Now, any company that truly cares about its customers would make sure it notifies you about a cancellation with more than an email to your account… which went straight to my spam folder. They would call to notify you of such a problem or at least make sure you got an email. Airbnb did nothing more than send an email, so my son and I were stuck in Berlin for 16 days with no apartment.

I want to be fair to Airbnb and say when I called them they tried to help and offered to pay for two nights here in Berlin up to $200. They offered to try to get us another place here but every listing that was available online was not able to take us. We tried eight new ones. They were sorry about the fact that I did not get notification of the cancellation but would not take responsibility for not making sure I got the notification. I had printed the instructions a week before I left and therefore thought everything was ok. The money was refunded but not until a month later and my wife just got our statement with the credit yesterday.

Luckily, I am a seasoned traveler and was able to get us in to a Hampton Inn for the last two nights and was able to book the same hotel for all but the next three days here. My problem with Airbnb is that they did not make sure I got the notification of the cancellation in the first place. This is my first and last experience with Airbnb. A company as large as this should make sure that customers get notification of cancellations and not blame it all on the customer. A phone call would have solved the entire problem. I will never use Airbnb again. They have ruined the experience that they so want you to have as advertised online and on TV. We were so looking forward to staying in that apartment in Berlin.

WARNING: If you are trying to reserve anything in Germany from Airbnb, don’t! The laws here have basically made it illegal to rent through Airbnb unless the stay is over 30 days. GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER Airbnb or you will soon be the next Internet company to go bankrupt!

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