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Rules
Host

Cologne

You can read this article in German or English.

This article provides specific information about local laws that apply to people who host their homes in Cologne. Just like our country article for Germany, it’s your responsibility to verify and comply with any obligations that apply to you as a host. This article can serve as a starting point or place you can come back to if you have questions but it isn’t exhaustive and it doesn’t constitute legal or tax advice. It’s a good idea to check to make sure laws and procedures are current.

Some of the laws that might affect you are complicated. Contact the Cologne Housing Office directly or consult a local advisor, such as an attorney or tax professional, if you have questions.

Regulations for rentals

Cologne has regulations for short-term accommodation rentals that came into effect in 2014 and were prolonged in 2021 for the last time, following the new housing framework under the state-wide so-called Housing Strengthening Act. The regulations apply to all freely-financed rental and cooperative dwellings designated as residential before or after the effective date of these regulations.

Residential space

According to the regulations, any space within city limits which is objectively suitable and subjectively intended for residential purposes is defined as a residential space.

However, spaces that have been used without interruption for other than residential purposes, both before and after the rules were adopted, are not subject to these regulations.

Permits

In general, you need to obtain a permit from the City of Cologne if you want to rent any residential space on a short-term basis for more than 90 days per calendar year. There are exemptions, for example for students, who can rent residential space on a short-term basis up to 180 days per calendar year. 

An obligation to either show a registration number (Wohnraum ID) or your company details (legal imprint) applies:

Registration obligations

Since July 1, 2022, you have to display a registration number (“Wohnraum-Identitätsnummer”) online if you want to rent out a residential space on a short-term basis and are the tenant or owner. This rule applies irrespective of the amount of days per calendar year that you intend to rent out your residential space on a short-term basis. You can apply for a housing identity number via the online service at NRW construction portal.

Obligations to display company details

You can choose to add your company details (imprint) instead of providing a registration number, if you host:

  • a non-residential space
  • a residential space long term (minimum of three months)
  • a residential space short-term, if you are not the tenant or owner of the space

The option to add company details instead of providing a registration number, regularly applies to business owners, management companies, B&Bs, serviced apartments and hotels.

Instructions to enter your registration number or imprint on Airbnb

To enter your registration number or your imprint on Airbnb, please follow the following steps:

How to enter your registration number (Wohnraum ID) or company details (imprint):

  • Log into your Airbnb account.
  • Go to Manage listings and select the respective listing which requires a registration number
  • Go to Policies and rules, then Laws and regulations and enter your registration number under Regulations
  • Repeat this process for each additional listing

Culture tax

Since December 1, 2014, the City of Cologne has been collecting a tax for the promotion and advancement of culture. Check Cologne’s administration site for more information about the culture tax.

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