Access to second homes in Germany during the corona lock-down

The measures taken in Germany to combat the coronavirus were not, from the outset, aimed at a general ban on access to second homes. At the beginning of the pandemic, there were different rules for second homes depending on the Land. There were recommendations, and in some regions citizens who did not have their main residence in the Land of their second home were initially prohibited from crossing the Land border and visiting their second home.

This changed rapidly after the administrative courts in some Länder lifted or suspended the ban on the use of second homes. The courts found the ban on travelling to the second residence to be disproportionate and thus illegal. The governments of the Länder concerned responded by amending their regulations without delay.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Berlin/Brandenburg: following a decision of the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg in March, a spokesman for the Brandenburg Ministry of the Interior clearly stated: “Anyone who owns a holiday home or apartment in Brandenburg may, of course, use it themselves”.
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a very touristy Land on the German Baltic Sea coast: after a ruling of the High Court of Greifswald on 9 April 2020, which lifted the travel ban for the local population, the state government decided on 17 April 2020 that anyone living in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania may visit any place there, including a second home on the coast and on the Baltic Sea islands.
  • Some Länder in Germany, such as Bavaria, also a Land with very attractive and popular tourist regions, as well as Saxony-Anhalt and North Rhine-Westphalia, have at no time forbidden the private use of second homes.

Conclusion: In Germany, during the corona crisis, second-home owners were not ultimately prevented from using their property, even if it was in another Land.

Lock-down and second stays in France: a different approach from the very strict ban in Belgium

In the afternoon of Tuesday 17 March, France, like most other countries in Europe around the same period, went into lock-down. Only a few movements were allowed and only on the basis of a certificate. In the absence of proof, our French neighbours risked a fine of 135 euros. Contrary to what we saw in Belgium, spending the lock-down in a second stay was not forbidden. People who were in their second residence on 17 March at noon were allowed to stay there.

However, it was absolutely forbidden to shuttle back and forth between the second residence and the main residence. As in Belgium, the presence of the owners in their second residence caused some commotion among part of the local population. In an interview with Paris-Match anthropologist Jean-Didier Urbain gave some interesting comments on what happened in France.

Click here to read the interview (in French).