What new rights tenants will have from next year

The “rent brake” is intended to protect tenants from excessive demands from homeowners. For a long time it was almost ineffective, now it is being sharpened. The Bundestag even goes one better.

Will the tightening of the rental price brake have the desired effect?

MFrom the coming year onwards, people in Germany will be able to defend themselves more easily against usury and will have to fear less drastic surcharges even after modernization. The Bundestag wants to resolve on Thursday the amendment of the so-called rent brake proposed by Justice Minister Katarina Barley (SPD). The compromise between the Union and the SPD provides for an additional tightening of the rules according to which landlords are allowed to pass on part of the costs to tenants after modernization.

Nationwide, landlords will only be allowed to reclaim 8 percent of the costs per year from their tenants instead of the previous 11 percent. In the Federal Cabinet’s draft law, this only applied to regions with a tight housing market.

The planned cap of three euros per square meter of rent increase per square meter of living space within six years after modernization remains, but here, too, there is a tightening: Where the rent is less than seven euros per square meter, landlords are only allowed to only two euros per square meter within the six years Add square meters.

Tenant Protection Act comes into force on January 1, 2019

The core of the rent brake is that the rent for new rentals may only be more than ten percent above the so-called local comparative rent in certain cases – for new buildings, renovations or if the previous rent was already higher one year before the end of the tenancy. If a landlord demands more, he must inform the tenant of this before signing the contract and give a reason – this has not been the case up to now. If the tenant is of the opinion that his landlord is asking too much, he will simply have to inform us in future and no longer provide detailed reasons.

The previous grand coalition introduced the rent brake. It applies in regions with a tight housing market, which are determined by the countries. The instrument quickly proved to be ineffective, partly because tenants usually did not know how much their predecessors had paid. The SPD had therefore already pressed for tightening before the general election. The so-called “modernization”, ie the targeted driving out of tenants through construction measures or their announcement, is now to be prevented with the tightening – there is a risk of fines in the future.

“The tenant protection law can come into effect as planned on January 1, 2019,” said Barley on Tuesday. “The situation, especially in the metropolitan areas, is serious.” Young families and single parents in particular have great problems finding affordable housing. “Affordable living space is the social issue of our time.” She announced that the next step would be to draft a law to reform the rent index, which is used to measure how much landlords are allowed to charge.

SPD parliamentary deputy Eva Högl also welcomed the agreement: “This is a big step in strengthening the rights of tenants,” she said. The SPD MP Johannes Fechner said that the SPD actually wanted to enforce that the entire rent brake applies nationwide, not just the cap after modernization. “Although rents are rising significantly not only in large cities, unfortunately that could not be done with the Union,” he said.

Criticism came from the real estate industry association ZIA: The additional cap for low rents is “absurd”, said association president Andreas Mattner. “The idea gives the impression that owners who rent out their apartments for less are to be punished.” For cheaper apartments, reasonable modernization would be prevented.