BERLIN, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Neighbors cannot forbid an individual flat owner from renting out an apartment, for example via online services such as Airbnb, in the short-term, the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Friday.
The concrete case came from a city in Lower Saxony where a woman, who owned a flat in a building with several owner-occupied flats, wanted to rent out her apartment to holiday guests.
The other owners in the building were opposed to this and decided two years ago that short-term rentals should no longer be permitted. Following the other owners' decision, the woman went to court.
On Friday, Germany's highest court BGH ruled that the decision of the owners was unlawful and thus ineffective. Each individual apartment owner must be able to rely on the fact that the use of their dwelling "is not simply restricted without their agreement", said the presiding judge Christina Stresemann.
The BGH made clear that the ruling concerned a very strongly protected right in Germany, namely the right of ownership, which is protected by the German Constitution.
For this reason, a majority of the owners could not "simply impose their will on an individual", according to judge Stresemann.
"A letting prohibition requires therefore the agreement of all owners of flats. Likewise, renting for short periods or of a specific type, for instance renting out as holiday or company flats, can only be prohibited with the consent of all flat owners," said BGH judge Streseman.
Back in 2010, the German Federal Court of Justice had ruled that flat owners generally have the right to let their apartments to holiday guests.