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HOUSING

COMPARE: The cities in Germany with the fastest-rising rents

Rents are rising rapidly throughout Germany, but which cities have seen the biggest price hikes on asking prices over the past five years? We take a look at the some of the surprising (and not-so-surprising) answers to that question.

COMPARE: The cities in Germany with the fastest-rising rents
New rental contracts in Stuttgart can be pricey. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

Tenants’ rights and soaring rents are high up on the agenda in this year’s parliamentary and state elections – and for good reason.

A recent study conducted by property search portal Immowelt revealed that rents on new contracts have risen in at least 80 major German cities over the past five years – with 34 cities seeing rents rise by 20 percent or more over the same period of time.

Most shocking of all – but also unsurprising – was the fact that rents on new flats advertised in the capital have risen by an astounding 42 percent, with renters in Berlin expecting to pay on average €4 more per square metre in 2021 on new contracts as they did in 2016. 

READ ALSO: ‘Stressed and depressed’: How Berlin’s rent cap fiasco has affected foreign tenants

The chart below put together by Immowelt shows the average asking price per square metre in cities with the fastest rising rents in 2016 compared to 2021.


Source: Immowelt

Rents also rose significantly in some of the notoriously expensive cities in southern and western Germany.

In eastern Germany, there were much smaller increases in rental prices – with the exception of Leipzig (or “Hypezig“, as some have termed it) which has been attracting an influx of hip, arty types over the past few years.

However, despite prices rising in Leipzig by over a fifth (22 percent), these trendy newcomers are still likely to be paying less than €8 per square metre for their new rental apartments. 

Rents outpacing inflation in most cities

The source for the study was listings on the Immowelt portal in the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2021. A wide range of properties were looked at, ranging between 40 square metres and 120 square metres in size, and all ages of property from Altbau (older properties) to Neubau (new-build properties) were included in the study. 

As Immowelt notes, Germany saw inflation of eight percent over the same period. But the price rises in 75 of the 85 cities studied outpaced inflation. 

Here’s how much the prices on flat offers rose in some of Germany’s most popular cities in just half a decade. 

Berlin: 42 percent

To anyone who’s been living – or, worse, flat-hunting – in Berlin over the past few years, it won’t come as much of a surprise that Berlin is topping the league table for rent increases. 

As we mentioned, rents in the capital have risen 42 percent over the past five years. While in the first months of 2016, the average renter paid €9 per square metre, in 2021, the average is €12.80 per square metre.

For those who’ve been following the news lately, the dates of the study will also come as a nasty shock. 

According to Immowelt, the dramatic rise in rents occurred “despite the fact that the rent cap was introduced and the asking rents for regulated existing apartments had fallen since the law was announced in June 2019”.

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Unfortunately, that’s likely to mean even steeper price rises in the future. 

“After the rent cap was dropped in April of this year, there was a rebound effect that is likely to continue in the coming months,” Immowelt explained.

Living in Berlin may be nice – but it’s expensive. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Stuttgart: 27 percent

An infamously pricey city, Stuttgart, in Baden-Württemburg, saw rental prices climb by 27 percent between 2016 and 2019. It now ranks sixth in Immowelt’s list of cities where the rents are rising fastest. 

While those who moved to the city five years ago might have been able to secure a flat there for €10.90 per square metre, you can now expect to shell out an eye-watering €13.80 per square metre for your new Stuttgart pad. 

Munich: 24 percent

For several years in a row, Munich was crowned most expensive city in Germany, and with price rises of more than 24 percent over five years, it continues to be a strong contender.

As reported by The Local, the city council has been putting forward big plans recently to try and curb price hikes in the city. From the sounds of it, they may well be needed: the average renter can expect to pay an unbelievable €19.20 per square metre to live in the Bavarian capital in 2021, up from €15.50 in 2016. 

READ ALSO:

Hamburg: 19 percent 

In Hamburg, average rents rose by 19 percent over five years, up from €10.50 per square metre in mid-2016 to €12.50 in the middle of this year.

At €12.50 per square metre, however, the northern city state – which has previously been crowned the richest city in Germany – has slipped behind Berlin in terms of its rental prices.

Renters in the harbour city can now feel smug in the knowledge that they currently pay around €0.40 less on average than their counterparts in the German capital.

Frankfurt: 16 percent

Home to big banks and powerful corporations, Frankfurt is also counted among Germany’s most expensive cities, and prices there also continue to rise steeply. 

Over the past five years, average rents in Hesse’s largest city have climbed from €12.50 to €14.50, representing an increase of 16 percent.

Frankfurt is known for its stunning skyline. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

However, as in Hamburg and Stuttgart, Immowelt has seen the upward curve start to flatten over the past year – potentially thanks to the upheaval caused by Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Where rents are falling (and going up) in Germany’s biggest cities

Dresden: 13 percent 

A small glimmer of light on a gloomy horizon, Dresden’s rents rose by a modest 13 percent over the period looked at – which equated to a 90 cent per square metre price rise for tenants.

The more subtle rent increase in Saxony’s capital reflects a wider trend across the eastern parts of Germany, where prices have tended to remain lower. Even after a more than 10 percent price rise in Dresden, the average renter will pay the bargain price of €7.90 per square metre on new contracts to live in Dresden, compared with €7 in 2016.  

Medium-sized cities

With the exception of Berlin, the largest percentage increases tended to be in smaller cities.

Heilbronn (+38 percent) in Baden-Württemberg and Offenbach in Hesse (+30 percent) ranked second and fourth on the list respectively, and are gradually catching up with the metropolises. In 2021, rents in both cities cracked the €11 mark.

Freiburg (+26 percent) and Heidelberg (+25 percent), both in BaWü, were also listed among the top 10 most expensive cities in the country, with square meter prices of €13.00 and €12.50 respectively.

In Hildesheim in Lower Saxony (+33 percent) and Kaiserslautern in Rhineland-Palatinate (+28 percent), on the other hand, rents are still low in spite of a steep rise: just under €8 per square meter in both cities.

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MONEY

Wohngeld: How people in Germany can get help with rising living costs

Many households in Germany could be eligible for increased financial support with their rents and bills from next year. We break down who should apply and how much help they could receive.

Wohngeld: How people in Germany can get help with rising living costs

The cost of living is rising across the board, and nowhere is this being felt more than in the home. For over a year, gas and electricity bills have been soaring and people on low incomes have been left wondering how to make ends meet.

While there is support available for people in this situation, it seems that many households in Germany aren’t aware that they could be eligible to apply for Wohngeld, or housing allowance, to help them with their expenses. What’s more, the amount of money people can get is set to rise at the start of next year.

Here’s what you need to know.

What exactly is Wohngeld?

Wohngeld, or housing allowance, is a form of financial aid for low-income households in Germany. It’s intended to help with the general costs associated with housing, such as monthly rents and utility bills.

Even people who own their own homes are able to get support with their mortgage repayments and building management costs (known as Hausgeld). However, they do have to fulfil certain criteria, like earning under a certain amount per month.

Unlike long-term unemployment benefit, which also includes a stipend for rent and bills, Wohngeld is intended for people who don’t rely on any other form of state support. That could include single parents or people with minimum wage jobs who spend a large proportion of their income on rent.

It means that people on jobseekers’ allowance and students with state loans and grants aren’t able to apply for Wohngeld. 

READ ALSO:

How much money can people receive?

That depends on a range of factors such as where you live, how high your rent is and how much money you earn this month. However, one thing that’s clear is that Wohngeld is likely to rise significantly at the start of next year.

On Wednesday, cabinet ministers voted through proposals from Housing Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) to hike the monthly allowance by around €190 on average. That means that instead of receiving €177 per month, the average household on Wohngeld will receive around €370 per month starting in January. 

It’s worth noting that Geywitz’s reforms still need to clear a vote in the Bundestag, but with the governing coalition of the SPD, Greens and FDP behind the move, it’s likely that they will. 

The Housing Ministry has also put together an online tool that can calculate the amount of Wohngeld each household is entitled to. At the moment, this still calculates the allowance based on the current rates – but it will be updated if the reforms are passed by parliament. 

Who’s eligible for Wohngeld?

That depends on a complex calculation based on factors such as income, the number of people in a household, the size and location of the property and how high monthly housing expenses are. There’s no straightforward income threshold that people can refer to, which could explain why thousands of households who could potentially get Wohngeld never apply for it.

The best way to check if you’re currently eligible is to use the government’s Wohngeld calculator tool. But as we mentioned above, this is still based on the current criteria and monthly rates. 

As well as hiking the monthly allowance, Geywitz also wants to expand the criteria so more households are eligible for Wohngeld.

At the moment, around 600,000 households in Germany receive Wohngeld. This could increase by 1.4 million to two million under Geywitz’s plans. From next year, people earning minimum wage and people on low pensions are set to be among those who are able to apply. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: When should I turn on my heating in Germany this year?

Sound good – where do I sign up?

In general, the states and municipalities are responsible for handling Wohngeld applications. That means you should apply at the local Wohngeldamt (housing allowance office), Wohnungsamt (housing office) or Bürgeramt (citizens’ office) in your district or city. 

If you’re unsure where to go, searching for ‘Wohngeld beantragen’ (apply for housing allowance) and the name of your city or area should pull up some search results that can guide you further. 

Apartment blocks in Berlin Marzahn.

Apartment blocks in Berlin Marzahn. Photo: picture alliance / Matthias Balk/dpa | Matthias Balk

Alongside an application form, you’ll likely have to submit a tenancy agreement, ID, information on your residence rights and proof of any income or state support you already receive. Other members of your household may also have to submit similar financial information. 

You should also be registered at the address you’re applying for Wohngeld for. 

READ ALSO: Germany to spend €200 billion to cap soaring energy costs

Are there any other changes to Wohngeld I should know about?

Anyone already on Wohngeld, or who receives it between September and December this year, is also entitled to a special heating allowance to help with winter energy costs. This is also set to be given to students and trainees receiving a BAföG loan or grant.

For students and trainees, the heating allowance is set at €345 per person. Meanwhile, the amount given to Wohngeld recipients will vary on the size of the household.

Single-person households will receive €415, two-person households will get €540 and there will be an additional €100 per person for larger households. 

This is likely to paid out in January. 

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