German government promises relief for renters amid coronavirus crisis

The German government will introduce new measures to protect tenants unable to pay their rent as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Renters will not be evicted from April 1st to September 30th for failure to pay rents.

German government promises relief for renters amid coronavirus crisis
Photo: DPA

The bill will be adopted on Monday in the Federal Cabinet before being debated by the Bundestag (German Parliament) on Wednesday. 

What's the latest on coronavirus in Germany and what do I need to know? 

The bill is intended to provide protection to renters who are unable to meet their rent obligations due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus. 

Although the time period is set to expire on the 30th of September, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection will be permitted to extend it to July 31st, 2021, if necessary. 

Despite the relief, renters who are able to pay will be required to do so during the time period. 

Furthermore, the bill only suspends evictions – meaning that renters who are unable to pay will need to repay once the economic impacts of the virus start to improve. 

The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) had called upon the federal government to take steps to ban evictions due to the coronavirus. 

“Politicians must send a clear signal – the home must be safe”, DGB board member Stefan Koerzell told the German Press Agency. 

Relief for landlords?

As yet, few indications have been given as to how landlords will be protected from the economic impacts of the coronavirus. 

The DGB called upon the government to provide interest-free bridging loans for owner-occupiers and for small landlords, as well as for housing cooperatives that find themselves in economic distress as a result of the crisis. 

On Saturday, the German government announced an economic aid package worth €822 billion directed at preventing companies from going under as a result of the epidemic. 


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EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point.