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New rent rules 'weighted against tenants'
Photo: DPA

New rent rules 'weighted against tenants'

Published: 14 Dec 2012 12:58 GMT+01:00
Updated: 14 Dec 2012 12:58 GMT+01:00

The German government came under heavy fire on Friday for new rental rules, which critics say are heavily weighted in favour of landlords, erode tenants' existing rights and fail to address ballooning rent prices in popular areas.

New rules to come into force in the spring will make it easier for landlords to forcibly and quickly eject tenants who do not pay rent or do not take care of their flats.

Up to now, landlords had to issue a warning before a rental contract could be terminated outside of the agreed notice period, but will no longer have to do so - if the tenant is late paying rent or a deposit.

The new rules were passed in parliament on Thursday with votes from the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Free Democratic Party (FDP). However, the opposition and tenants' groups say the new rules erode tenants' rights and allow often considerable rent rises on new contracts to continue unchecked.

"The new rules will result in a drastic deterioration of tenants' rights,” said Lukas Siebenkotten, head of the German Tenants' Association. Rent rises for new rentals were likely to go “through the roof” as a result, he added.

Critics say that tenants will no longer demand a reduced rent for up to three months while their flat is being renovated for energy efficiency – for example when a landlord installs insulation and double glazing or upgrades the heating system.

This means that tenants will no longer be entitled to lower rent as compensation for enduring long periods of disruption, noise and mess.

But the government says the change will push forward the goal of increased energy efficiency in housing and give smaller landlords an incentive to renovate their properties without a loss of income.

Supporters say the new rules will also address ballooning rents in certain areas, by allowing regional governments to cap rent rises in particularly desirable districts to a maximum of 15 percent over a three-year period, compared with a current cap of a 20 percent rise.

But opponents of the new law are demanding a cap on rent rises for new rental contracts.

Green politician Daniela Wagner said that, in the face of exploding rental prices, it was surprising that the government had only introduced an upper limit for certain areas where flats were in high demand. Wagner and other opposition politicians called for the cap be introduced nationwide and for it also to be applied to new contracts.

Stephan Thomae, MP in the pro-business junior coalition partner the FDP, said a nationwide cap on rent rises would not make economic sense.

“Those who build or buy an expensive flat in, say, Munich need to receive appropriate rents to pay back their costs,” he said.

The issue is likely to remain high on the political agenda in the run-up to the national election next autumn, with the main opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) saying it would guarantee better protection for tenants and kick-start a state-financed drive to create more affordable living space.

DPA/DAPD/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:36 December 14, 2012 by frankiep
I wish they would address the issue of the ridiculous practice of having the tenant pay the commission to the real estate agent. Moving is expensive enough as it is - moving company and deposit can easily cost a few thousand Euro - but to have to pay someone an additional 2 and a half months rent just to show you the place is borderline criminal IMO. I understand that the agent needs to get paid, but why can't the person he is actually working for - the owner - be the one to do it?
18:52 December 14, 2012 by Tonne
From my experience of buying a house in Germany I wholeheartedly agree with @frankiep.

The buyer chooses the agent, the agent describes the property on the advice of the owner, the agent sets the purchase price in agreement with the owner, the amount paid to the agent is based on the purchase price but it is the purchaser who is expected to pay the agent's fee. Crazy!
05:05 December 15, 2012 by DOZ
Germans better start tossing Merkel but soon.
10:27 December 15, 2012 by daveyyy
As a renter this is a good country, as a buyer its very different to other countries. Rents in Germany are relatively low. Sure, they are not rediculously low, but I would pay 3 times the rent in my home country.
16:11 December 15, 2012 by raandy
Moving to a new flat is expensive, usually you have to pay rent for a couple of months at both places due to the 90 day cancellation. You will most likely have to have it painted.

then to add the provision of 2 and a half months on top is way out there plus your deposit, which you most likely have not yet received from your previous landlord.

If your rent is 800/mo then 5,000 + can be reached easily.

Does anyone know if the new changes effect ones existing rental contract.???
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