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HOUSING

Munich landlord fined for charging ‘too little’ in rent

A landlord in Munich has been fined by the city for not charging his renters enough for his centrally-located flats.

Munich landlord fined for charging 'too little' in rent
Altbau properties in Munich, where the average rent per square metre is now €20.25. Photo: picture alliance / Matthias Balk/dpa | Matthias Balk

Longtime Munich resident Thaddäus Spegel had been renting out several flats in the Munich district of Sendling.

Google Maps shows the centrally-located district of Sendling in Munich.

The current average price in the Bavarian capital is €20.95 per square metre, but Spegel asked for a maximum of €13.50 per square metre. Spegel now has to pay €41,445 in back taxes to Munich’s Finanzamt (tax office).

“I feel absolutely unfairly treated, it can’t be,” Spegel told German broadcaster ZDF, stating that he has been punished for being a “fair landlord.”

“What’s it to them?” he added. “That’s my property, and as long as it’s mine, I’ll do what I want with my rent.” 

The ZDF report caused a stir among German users on TikTok, who lamented German bureaucracy and called the Finanzamt’s punishment “just not understandable.” 

One Munich flat seeker furthermore asked: “Where can I apply for his apartment?”

READ ALSO: The most expensive (and cheapest) cities in Germany to rent a room

Is it legal to charge “too cheap” rent in Germany?

In Germany it could indeed be prohibitively difficult to become a Good Samaritan who offers low rents to those most in need.

German tax law currently requires landlords to charge at least 66 percent of the “ortsübliche Miete”, or the local rent, according to Anwalt.de

This is one of the factors which has been driving up rental prices around Germany, particularly in large cities such as Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt, wrote the legal advice website.

In most cities the ortsübliche Miete is based on the Mietspiegel, or comparative rent index. 

READ ALSO: Why tenants in Germany could see bigger rent increases this year

The tax office’s case against Spegel also depends on how many income-related deductions he previously sought on his properties.

If a landlord charges less than half the average rental costs, according to the Mietspiegel, “the tax office only partially recognizes his income-related expenses, for example for maintenance, repairs and depreciation,” Rudolf Stürzer, Chairman of the property owners’ Initiative Haus und Grund Munich, told local news outlet TZ.

In Munich, there are several private landlords with long-term tenancies who have not adjusted their prices to the exploding rental market, said Stürzer, and could also face issues with the Finanzamt.

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RENTING

Up to 30 percent of large families in Germany ‘live in overcrowded housing’

In Germany, more than one in ten residents lived in overcrowded housing last year, according to data from the Federal Statistical Office released on Thursday. But the figures were much higher for families with children.

Up to 30 percent of large families in Germany 'live in overcrowded housing'

Around 8.6 million people – or 10.5 percent of the population – were living in cramped quarters in 2021.

Households with children were the most likely in overcrowded housing, which is defined as too few rooms in relation to the number of people. This is based on the European Community statistics on income and living conditions, the so-called EU-SILC.  

A home is considered overcrowded if, for example, there is no common room or no separate room per adult.

READ ALSO: Single people and large families ‘pay more for rent’ in Germany

Among families, the overcrowding rate was 15.9 percent. In households with two adults and at least three children, the figure hovered as high as 30.7 percent. For single parents, it was 28.4 percent. 

At 17.8 percent, the overcrowding rate for minors was around six times higher than for older people aged 65 and over, where the figure stood at only three percent.

Households without children

In households without children, the overcrowding rate was 6.5 percent, lower than across all other types of living situations. Proportionally, two adults without children were least likely to live in overcrowded housing, with a figure of just 2.7 percent.

According to the statistics office, there was a marked difference between urban and rural areas. The proportion of people living in overcrowded apartments in larger cities was around three times higher at 15.5 percent than in rural areas at 4.9 percent.

READ ALSO: Half of big city households in Germany ‘spend over 30 percent of income on rent’

Across the EU, however, Germany fares better than average. According to Eurostat, the overcrowding rate in the EU in 2021 was 17.1 percent.

Vocabulary

overcrowded – überbelegt

single parents – (die) Alleinerziehende

living conditions – (die) Lebensbedingungen

proportionally – anteilig

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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