“Will examine possibilities”: SPD calls for nationwide rent regulation

“Will examine possibilities”
SPD calls for nationwide rent regulation

The Federal Constitutional Court is tipping the Berlin rent cap – and is thus fueling the discussion about rising housing costs in many German cities. Just like the tenants’ association, the SPD is pushing for rapid rent regulation that should apply nationwide.

After the end of the Berlin rent cap before the Federal Constitutional Court, the German Tenants’ Association (DMB) urged the federal government to act quickly. According to the association, nationwide rent regulation could be implemented within a short period of time. Now the federal government is crystal clear, said the president of the association, Lukas Siebenkotten. His demand: “Rent freeze for existing buildings, sharp brakes on re-letting.”

For Siebenkotten, this is primarily a question of will: “As you can see from the Corona measures, the federal government can act quickly if the political will is there.” Proposals for effective and fair rent caps have been on the table for years. According to Siebenkotten, their implementation would still be possible during this legislative period.

The Berlin SPD leader Raed Saleh also called for a rent freeze in Germany. “Now the ball is in the hands of the CDU and CSU,” he said. “You now have the task of giving up your blockade against a rent moratorium and ensuring more tenant protection.” Another possibility is for the federal government to enable the federal states to regulate rent by law. “Wherever rents are actually exploding, as is the case in Berlin, the possibility must also be created of intervening there with a lid, a brake,” said SPD chairwoman Saskia Esken to the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” “and editorial network Germany. “And we will have to examine the possibilities of how legal certainty can be created there.”

Federal government responsible for tenancy law

The Federal Constitutional Court had declared the Berlin rent cover law, which had been in force for more than a year, to be null and void in a decision announced on Thursday. The federal government was responsible for tenancy law, and there should not be any state law, it was said to justify. The rent ceilings stipulated in the state law no longer apply with immediate effect. The legal situation is now as if the lid had never existed. Many people in apartments with a capped rent in Berlin have to pay back payments.

The Berlin Senate wants to help those affected, stressed Saleh. On the one hand, tenants of communal apartments would not have to fear any additional claims. On the other hand, a hardship fund is planned to prevent tenants who cannot make additional payments from losing their apartment and possibly becoming homeless. He assumes that the fund will amount to a double-digit million amount, said the politician. The housing groups Vonovia and Heimstaden have announced that they will forego additional claims.

According to the real estate experts at Deutsche Bank Research, the debate about the Berlin rent cap already had the effect of slowing the rise in rents in all German cities. “Rental growth could pick up again in some cities and regions, as many initiatives that have copied the Berlin cap will lose momentum.”

Thousands of Berliners demonstrate

On Thursday evening, several thousand people demonstrated in Berlin for a nationwide rent freeze. They criticized the decision of the highest German court and called for more political action against “rent madness”. Many of the participants had brought lids with them, with which they made a lot of noise. Her motto: “If you take a lid from us, we’ll come back with a thousand lids!” The Berlin tenants’ association had called for the protest.

For the red-red-green coalition in Berlin, which wanted to stop the spiral of steadily rising rents, the decision of the constitutional judge is a crushing defeat. On February 23, 2020, it had frozen rents for 1.5 million apartments at the June 2019 level. In the event of a tenant change, the five-year law stipulated that the old rent would remain or that upper limits would apply. Rents that are more than 20 percent above the upper limits were considered too high. Since November 23, affected landlords have been legally obliged to lower rents for several hundred thousand apartments.