Legally controversial: Rent brake in Germany

A nice idea, but not really helpful. This is how the Berlin Tenants’ Association views the proposal by former Senator for Building Peter Strieder (SPD) to help tenants in the capital achieve lower rents even without a rent cap. At least when it comes to a newly occupied apartment, the price of which may not be more than ten percent above the Berlin rent index.

In an article for, Strieder therefore assumes that, according to a rough calculation, all rental agreements concluded in recent years for a net rent of eight euros or more “can be challenged in their legality” because the rent is too high. The Senate Department for Urban Development, together with the districts, should write to all tenants who have registered their new residence since the nationwide rent brake came into force. According to Strieder, the letter could explain to tenants how to check the legality of their own rent.

Kieznahe advisory centers should be furnished, which help the tenants with the examination of the rent height to manufacture the contact to landlords and attorneys, suggests Strieder. Lawyers’ fees should be paid by the state of Berlin. Such a campaign could be implemented immediately and would not require a “new bureaucratic structure like the rent cap announced so far”.

Rent brake remains ineffective

The Berlin Tenants’ Association calls Strieder’s proposal to inform tenants of their rights with a letter from the authorities a “nice idea.” But that changes “hardly anything about the ineffectiveness of the rent brake.” The planned Berlin rent cap cannot be replaced in such a way at all. Because unfortunately the law contains numerous exceptions to the Mietpreisbremse, “which make it possible to require far more than ten per cent over the local comparison rent”. In addition, the determination of the local comparative rent is “deeply controversial” and there is a high financial risk for tenants who do not have legal protection insurance.

In the view of the Berlin Tenants’ Association, it is more utopian than the introduction of a rent cap that the Senate should bear the legal costs of civil suits if the tenant is unsuccessful in the legal dispute. And a rework of the Mietpreisbremse does not lie in the power of the citizens of Berlin federal state government. “Individual cosmetic improvements have already not brought success in the past and will not do so in the future.” The tenants’ association is therefore once again campaigning for a rent cap as a “public-law regulation” by the state of Berlin. Upper rental values would thus be set in a binding manner and the dispute as to what exactly the local comparative rent is would be avoided.