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Your frog-green VW bus, fully equipped with pop-up roof, solar cell and extra built-in sliding windows, sits sadly in the garage for most of the year. Not only the running costs annoy some owners, but also the idea that the vehicle is not used sustainably is a pity for many. So why not make other camping enthusiasts happy and rent out your own vehicle privately? But how does that work best? Here you get help.

Lend or rent?

In everyday life, the two terms are often mixed up, but from a legal point of view, "lending" and "renting" are not the same thing. A motorhome is lent to someone who, for example, lets a friend use his or her vehicle without receiving payment for it. Who wants to lend his motorhome, can therefore do this without any problems at any time, without having to worry about business registration and taxation (but very much about the insurance!). However, if you want to rent out your motorhome, you will receive a fee for it and therefore have to be careful of some stumbling blocks.

Do I have to register a business?

Even if everyone who plays with the idea of renting out his own camper would like to have a simple yes or no answer at this point: Whether it makes sense to register a trade or not, can unfortunately not be answered in a general way. This depends on the individual income situation of the renter and the respective regional regulations. Basically, according to the Income Tax Act §15 paragraph 2 applies:

An independent sustainable activity, which is undertaken with the intention of making a profit and is represented as participation in the general economic traffic, is a trade or business, if the activity is neither to be regarded as the exercise of agriculture and forestry, nor as the exercise of a liberal profession, nor as any other independent work.

So the good news is: If a mobile home is primarily used privately and rented out now and then to refinance the purchase, these criteria are usually not met and a business registration is not necessary. Nevertheless, all income must of course be declared to the tax office and taxed accordingly. From when a trade license is actually necessary can be found out by inquiring at the responsible office.

How do I have to pay tax on my income?

Basically, when renting out, only the profit generated has to be taxed. As long as the income covers running costs such as insurance or repairs, it is not subject to income tax. If you do not need to register a trade, you can declare the profit in your tax return as income from "other services". These are tax-free up to 256 euros per year. For higher amounts, it makes sense to consult a tax advisor.

Which insurance do I need?

If you want to rent out your own motorhome, the existing vehicle insurance is usually not sufficient (and in this case this also applies to renting!). The most obvious option is therefore to take out the appropriate self-drive rental insurance for this purpose. This covers most risks, but has the disadvantage that it is very expensive at up to 2,500 euros per year and is therefore only worthwhile if you can also count on corresponding rental income. This can only be achieved by those who rent out their motorhome very frequently (roughly at least 100 days a year). In addition, the self-drive rental insurance is also associated with expense: It remains valid only as long as the vehicle undergoes a general inspection once a year.

Insurance alternatives can be found on various sharing portals. Sharing portals are service providers that help motorhome owners rent out their vehicle - naturally for a commission (usually between 10 and 20 percent). Often, however, one has the option here to insure by the day, which offers the advantage that motorhome owners can keep their normal insurance - and it does not increase should damage actually occur during the rental. The offers of the different portals provide advantages and disadvantages and, depending on the desire, various additional options. When choosing the right sharing portal, you should therefore take a close look at the insurance options in any case.

Is renting worth it?

What insurance does not cover is the inevitable wear and tear on the vehicle caused by frequent use, such as worn tires or worn brake or clutch linings. In addition, the value of the vehicle decreases the more kilometers it is driven and resale becomes more difficult. It is important to keep this in mind when calculating the rental price. It is rather difficult to achieve high profits with a private rental. Therefore, renting is worthwhile especially for people who do not shy away from the effort, like to get in touch with like-minded people, want to make other people happy while camping, and want to reduce their own running costs a bit in the process.

What is the best sharing portal?

Those who decide to rent via a sharing portal are spoiled for choice. The largest provider in Germany at the moment is PaulCamper. Here, about 9400 vehicles (as of June 2021) are listed for rent. Most of these are posted by private - and not commercial - providers. The vehicles can be easily insured on a daily basis via an Allianz offer suggested by PaulCamper. Payments run over the platform. The portal understands itself as mediators between renting and letting - by a damage developed disputes between both parties must be clarified accordingly also between these. For landlords:inside thus a risk remains. A sympathetic extra of the platform are however the Community meetings. Thus one can attach in the best way contacts with Gleichgesinnten and exchange themselves over camping.

Yescapa offers an alternative to PaulCamper. Here, over 10,000 vehicles (as of June 2021) are offered for rent. Since Yescapa is a French company, the number of available campers in Germany is lower than, for example, at the competitor PaulCamper. Since the end of 2020, the formerly independent portal SHAREaCAMPER has also belonged to Yescapa. It can therefore be assumed that the platform will continue to grow in the future. Similar to PaulCamper, Yescapa offers an uncomplicated, day-by-day insurance. This is quite comprehensive. There is also an option to extend the insurance coverage to reduce the deductible in the event of a claim to a maximum of 250 euros. As with PaulCamper, payments are made via the platform. Many of the vehicles offered are customized - for renters, this has the advantage of easily finding the camper with that certain something.

Across Europe, Campanda is the largest sharing portal with over 26,000 (as of June 2021) registered vehicles. However, many of these are not offered in Germany or are listed on other platforms at the same time, so that in practice significantly fewer are available. While PaulCamper and Yescapa are mainly used by private landlords, only commercial rental providers are active on Campanda. Therefore, anyone who wants to rent out via Campanda also needs self-drive rental insurance. Also because of the relatively high commission the portal is worthwhile itself therefore only if one would like to let very much and possibly several vehicles. Because registration is free and the range is high, it is still worthwhile to post your vehicle and thus be visible - even if the actual rental then runs through PaulCamper or Yescapa.

Checklist

  • Take out appropriate insurance.
  • Only rent to people who are at least 21 years old.
  • Check if your prospective tenant has the appropriate driving license (motorhomes under 3.5t can be driven with a class B license).
  • Also check the personal data and take a photo of the ID.
  • Sign a rental contract.
  • Get a deposit.
  • Instruct your tenants in the functions of the vehicle.
  • Fill out a handover and return protocol and have it signed.
  • Report your income to the tax office.