Berlin’s new rent freeze, IUT contribution

Berlin’s brand new rent freeze (and cap) is hardly unique among cities with pressured housing markets. But while other cities have stricter laws, Berlin’s new rent control has some more unique protections.

Rents for 1.5 million homes in Berlin will be frozen for five years and capped at €9.80 ($10.90) per square meter, after the Berlin state government agreed a new rent control law on Tuesday.

The law also says that landlords cannot charge rents higher than what the previous tenant paid, and, should their rent be above the limit set out in a “rent table,” tenants can even sue to have their rent lowered. These two measures are thought to be unique globally, and, according to international tenants’ organizations, represent the strongest part of Berlin’s law.

Barbara Steenbergen, head of the EU liaison office at the International Union of Tenants (IUT), thinks the idea that a city with an acute housing shortage should introduce rent control is not exactly revolutionary. “It’s nothing extremely special,” Steenbergen told DW. “Actually I was more or less waiting for something to happen in Berlin.”

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