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Vienna is one of the cities in the world with the most municipal housing

Vienna Courts make Airbnb illegal in public housing

Vienna Courts make Airbnb illegal in public housing

The decision was praised by local Councillor for Housing, Kathrin Gaal, as a major step towards protecting one of the city’s most prized assets

Yesterday, the Viennese Higher Regional Court ruled against Airbnb on the issue of renting out accommodation spaces in city-owned housing on its platform to tourists. The decision followed an earlier ruling in the Vienna Commercial Court in 2020. In last year’s case, the city-owned real-estate management company Wiener Wohnen raised the issue in court on the basis that it forbids its tenants to sublet their apartments.  

Wiener Wohnen won the case in 2020 and after an appeal by Airbnb, they won in 2021. Now, the platform is forced to take down any listing matching the address of public housing.

Protecting Vienna’s housing

According to Vienna’s City Councillor for Housing, Kathrin Gaal, when authorities first raised the issue with the platform, Airbnb asked that the city report each individual violation themselves. Then, after the first court ruling, the company moved to delete them ‘voluntarily'.

In their official statement, they said they want to support fair and future-oriented regulation in the short-term rental sector. At the same time, they filed an appeal on the ruling by the Vienna Commercial Court.

Vienna’s social and municipal housing – an incredibly effective system

The Austrian capital is famous for a lot of things, yet, one of the lesser-known facts about it is its incredibly effective social and municipal housing system. Currently, Wiener Wohnen owns a staggering 220,000 homes and is the major player in the housing market.

Furthermore, they generally do not sell the homes. Instead, they rent them out at symbolic prices to both well-off and socially vulnerable citizens. The leases they provide generally have a 99-year limit and can be inherited, so residents live there for all intents and purposes.

This mechanism has proven incredibly effective at providing the locals with reliable and affordable housing, which has, in turn, led to a cascade of long-term benefits. One example is the high amounts of disposable income enjoyed by Austrians, in fact, the highest in the European Union.

However, the whole rental social and municipal housing system is quite fragile and subletting would undermine the basic concepts behind it.  Simply said, if a resident is not using the subsidised unit provided by the city, then that unit should be going to someone who needs affordable housing.

Councillor Gaal explained that with the second ruling, the courts have helped both the city and Wiener Wohnen protect social and municipal housing in the city. She has also expressed her joy over the opportunity to defend one of Vienna’s prised assets, that help makes it a great city to live in.

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