Berlin considers freezing rental prices for five years

As rental prices in Berlin skyrocket, the city's senate is considering a plan to freeze the capital’s rents for a full five years, starting in 2020.

Berlin considers freezing rental prices for five years
A sign for rental apartments. Photo: DPA

The proposed legislation, to be presented to Berlin’s Senate on June 18th, would guarantee that rents remain at the last price agreed upon by tenants and landlords.

This would mean that people moving into new flats would pay the monthly amount that previous tenants paid for rent, without facing huge price hikes as can be the case now.

It would not, however, affect social housing units or newly-constructed flats which have not yet been rented.

City development planner Katrin Lompscher (Die Linke) drafted the paper  “Limitation of Rents Under Land Law” to tackle the issue of rapidly rising rents in the capital, which in some central areas are shooting up by as much as eight percent per year.

SEE ALSO: Berlin rents rise above record €10 for first time

If the law receives final approval by Berlin’s House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus), new tenants will also be able to have their rental costs checked by authorities to ensure they aren’t being charged more than previous tenants.

Landlords would also be required to notify authorities about any modernizations to the flat. Such upgrades would be allowed to increase the monthly rent, but only by a maximum of 50 cents per square metre.

Any increase of more than 50 cents would also have to be approved by authorities first, states the proposal.

If they failed to comply, landlords would be slapped with a fine of up to €500,000.

The Berlin Tenants' Association (Mietverein) welcomed the draft legislation – which has also been backed by Berlin's Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens – calling it  “a clear strengthening of tenant protection” in a statement.

READ ALSO: The words you need to know before renting a flat in Germany

The Berlin CDU faction, however, criticized the draft as “immature and legally vulnerable,” reported Spiegel Online. 

This could “lead to years of dispute before the Constitutional Court,” said Christian Gräff, spokesman on building policy. “Court hearings in Berlin often last for years, so tenant protection becomes a farce.”

Differing policies

A complete freeze on rents differs from policies which Berlin already has in place. The ‘Mietbremse’ (rental price brake) enacted in the summer of 2015, set a cap for how high landlords in urban areas in Germany could charge above the so-called Mietspiegel, or rental average for the area.

Yet while the ‘Mietbremse’ only applies to vacant flats for rent, the new law also would cover rents regardless of whether the apartment has been rented for a long time, or whether it is free and will be let again.

SEE ALSO: Germany's controversial 'Mietbremse' works after all, at least in central Berlin

Other cities have proposed similar legislation. In Frankfurt, Mayor Peter Feldmann (SPD) proposed limiting the rents of public housing companies and private landlords to one percent per year.

Several protest movements have started in Berlin in reaction to rising rents. Photo: DPA

This failed because of resistance from the CDU, which stated that landlords would barely renovate their apartments or repair them after damage if there wasn’t enough of an incentive to do so.

There is also a problem with vacant apartments in many cities, which some politicians criticize a cap wouldn’t change. In apartment-squeezed Hamburg, similar legislation failed to pass.

Berlin housing shortage

With a rapidly growing population, Berlin is also tight on living space. Only 16,706 new apartments were built in the capital in 2018, slightly more than a year earlier.

According to experts, Berlin would have to build around 20,000 apartments per year just to create enough living space for newcomers to the city, which is growing annually at a rate of 40,000 people.

Germany’s Tenants’ Association has said that “adequate and affordable housing” is one step to solving the housing shortage.

Yet it has also called on local and federal governments to make more land for construction available – and to prevent land speculation, or the purchase of real estate in the hopes that prices increase.

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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.