This Sunday an experiment goes into effect in Berlin. It is a new law that puts a cap on rents. Mietedeckel they call her here, something like law of “Rent cap”. Its own promoters have defined it as "unknown legal territory."
Those are the terms of Katrin Lompscher, Minister of Urban Development of the city-state that is Berlin. She is part of the leftist party Die Linke, a training comparable to We can in Spain that integrates the coalition of lefts that governs the German capital. That coalition also includes The Green and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). To the latter belongs Michael Müller, the mayor of Berlin.
Two decades is on its way to fulfilling the German capital with a social democratic mayor in power – Müller preceded it Klaus Wowereit– and, with SPD mayors, the housing market has reached an unsustainable situation for many. The price of rental housing has risen in Berlin for some time to this part more than anywhere else in Germany, a country where this week the Bundesbank I saw "price exaggerations" of the housing offered by the market.
Currently, on average, close to 10 euros the square meter in a rental home in Berlin, according to data from the German statistics portal Statist. In 2004, the price was 5.1 euros. To stop the climb, the city government has decided to launch the rent cap law, a measure that has a limited duration –5 years– and that does not affect all homes, but those that have been available since 2014, social housing and residential homes.
The authorities estimate that there will be a total saving of 100 million euros For tenants. Thanks to this law, the affected tenants will be able to pay prices that will have as reference those of 2013, the year from which the rental housing was rampant, according to the authorities.
"People are afraid"
The "rent cap" law is a measure that occurs when politics deals with legislation with the fear of the population in mind, according to David Eberhart, spokesman and communication manager of the Association of Real Estate Companies of Berlin and Brandenburg (BBU). "People are afraid, people fear that rent will go up and it is to some extent understandable that politics deals with this issue," Eberhart tells EL ESPAÑOL.
But “this policy has a bias populist, by how the discussion has been carried out, dealing with people's fears, ”says the head of the BBU. Its association represents large owners of the housing market, companies such as Deutsche Wohnen or Vonovia. Respectively, these firms rent 110,000 and 40,000 homes in Berlin.
The owners take advantage
Eberhart says that it is not the big companies, but rather the private owners who are taking advantage of the situation. Private owners account for approximately half of the rental housing market in Berlin.
“There are private owners who are taking advantage. Because if one reads every day in the newspapers how it can be read today that rents in Berlin are exploding, and one does not charge tenants anymore, one has the feeling of being silly if you do nothing about it, ”says the head from BBU.
Some people believe that the owners who are taking advantage are around 75% of the total in Berlin. That percentage is what drives Daniel Halmer, responsible for the start-up of technology applied to the legal profession wenigermiete.de. Halmer's company has designed a program that has automated the complaint before the owners and the courts about abusive rental conditions. "Three out of four rental agreements are above what is established by the rent brake law," Halmer points out to EL ESPAÑOL.
Halmer refers to the one known as rental brake law which establishes since 2015 that the prices of the new rental agreements can only be 10% above what the price index established by the authorities establishes. This law is different from that of the Berlin bumper in several aspects.
For example, the rent brake law does not contain penalties for owners who exceed their rents. The Mietedeckel yes, well set fines from until 500,000 euros. Both laws are also different in origin. The Mietedeckel It was approved at the end of January in the Berlin regional parliament. The brake law is approved by the Bundestag.
Judicial battle in sight
There is one of the main reproaches facing the Mietedeckel. Moreover, homeowner organizations such as House and Land, which represents some 8,000 private owners in Berlin, have campaigned against the new Berlin law. Your president, Carsten Brückner, has highlighted that "the Land of Berlin does not have the necessary powers for such a law."
Although Halmer takes care of defending tenants against the abuses of the owners, he shows this newspaper his doubts about the future of the new Berlin law. It may be unconstitutional. “Great owners like Deutsche Wohnen or Vonovia they have already realized their intention to denounce the measure before the constitutional Court as soon as possible, ”recalls Halmer.
In fact, large companies have already tried to stop the measure in that court. But last January that attempt failed because the initiative against the law came too soon, in any case, before it entered into force.
The Mietedeckel It will take effect this Sunday. From then on, the judicial battle seems to be assured. "I am not sure that the Mietedeckel can be maintained, because it is not clear that Berlin can make such a law, ”says the chief lawyer of wenigermiete.de. "If that new law is politically an intelligent measure or a crazy socialist experiment is something we will know in a couple of years," he concludes.