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Germany's estate agents plan strike action

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Germany's estate agents plan strike action
Photo: DPA
15:58 CET+01:00
First it was the pilots, then train drivers - now Germany's real estate agents are threatening to go on strike. But their call to arms has been met with sneers rather than sympathy.

If it goes ahead, the strike is unlikely to bring the country to a standstill in the way train drivers and pilots have managed.

Indeed estate agents' poor reputations for getting commission for simply for showing you around a property has led many to welcome the move.

Estate agents themselves are also leaning in favour of industrial action on Friday November 7th, in response to a new property law which will stop them getting commission from tenants and cap rents. 

Helge Norbert Ziegler,  president of the German Federation of the Estate Agents (BVFI), said its 11,000 members were largely in favour of action, according to an online vote on their website. "The trend is towards a strike," Ziegler said. 

Estate agents have until the end of Friday to vote.

The BVFI is upset that from 2015 their members will no longer be able to charge commission on rented properties.

At the moment many properties are rented out with a commission of two months rent plus sales tax, paid for by tenants. In the future, the estate agents' fees should be covered by landlords rather than tenants. 

The BFVI says that this puts estate agents' jobs and businesses at risk. "We don't want to be seen as the country's morons anymore and be blamed for rent increases, they are a failure of politicians," Ziegler told the ddeutsche Zeitung.

But some estate agents are against the move. "It's a stupid idea," said Markus Gruhn, president of a group of Berlin and Brandenburg estate agents. "I'm sure politicians are trembling in their boots over the economy collapsing because of an estate agent strike."

The hashtag #maklerstreik (estate agent strike) has also taken off on Twitter.

"Please strike forever," one tweet read. "They'll have more work on by striking," another wrote. "Imagine a strike which just makes everyone laugh," another person tweeted. 

German cities, particularly Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt have seen large rent increases in recent years. 

As part of the law shifting the burden of estate agents' fees to landlords rather than tenants, rents could also be capped in some areas.

Landlords will be barred from raising them by more than ten percent above the local average for new tenants.   

SEE ALSO: Cabinet agrees cap on rent rises

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