Rental price brake: Government wants to tighten the law

Housing market The government wants to tighten the rental price break

  • This Wednesday, the Federal Cabinet wants to pass a bill to tighten the rental price break. It contains some significant improvements for tenants.
  • Among other things, owners should be required to inform the new tenants of the pre-rent early. There are also changes in modernization.
  • Angela Merkel invites you on September 21st to a presidential summit in the Chancellery.

Robert Rossmann is a graduate of the German School of Journalism. He studied economics, communication, and political science. At the age of 27, he became editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Previously, he had worked at Bayerischer Rundfunk. In 1997 Roßmann became deputy news head of the SZ, in 2000 he took over the management of the Bayern part. At the end of 2004, he moved to Berlin as a parliamentary correspondent. In 2007, he returned to Munich as the head of Newsdesk. Since 1 January 2012, he is deputy head of the parliamentary office in Berlin.

It took a long, very long time – and not only for the German Tenants’ Association for too long. This Wednesday, the Federal Cabinet wants to pass a bill to tighten the rental price break. With it also the so-called out modernizing of tenants from their homes is to be made more difficult. The then Federal Minister of Justice Heiko Maas (SPD) wanted to achieve both in the past legislative period, but the Union blocked his ideas.

Meanwhile, the situation in the rental housing market has worsened, especially in large and student cities. Maas’s successor, Katarina Barley (SPD), has already declared rents to be a “social issue of our time”. And in October, important state elections will take place in Hesse and Bavaria. Since a government can not allow a standstill without having to be afraid of being punished. For September 21, Angela Merkel has invited to a presidential summit in the Chancellery. It is important to show a success. This mixed situation has now made it easier for the SPD to move the Union towards a compromise that they had refused to grant Heiko Maas.

Locked up in your own home

Separate couples, families with children, retirees in much too large apartments – they all would like to move, but can not.

At the Coalition Committee meeting a week ago, the Union and SPD did not just agree on a pension package and changes in unemployment insurance. As a third compromise, the Coalitioners also noted at the end of their decision: “Until the Housing Summit, the Federal Government in the Cabinet, the Tenant Protection Act … decide.” For Justice Minister Barley, this was the long-awaited breakthrough.

Barley’s bill is titled: “A draft law supplementing the rules on the allowable rental amount at the beginning of the lease and to adapt the rules on the modernization of the rental property”. Behind the bulky headline are hidden some significant improvements for tenants. With the law, the government will “protect the tenants from repression and limit the consequences of modernization,” Barley has announced. The coalition will thus “prevent people in future from getting out of their homes and destroyed residential areas are destroyed.”

In order to achieve this, the government now wants, among other things, a duty of the owner to decide when renting an apartment interested parties before signing the contract the amount of the pre-rent. The already applicable rental price limit on the re-letting of apartments, although the amount – the new rent may not be more than ten percent above the local comparative rent. However, prospective tenants can not yet recognize whether the required rent is lawful. Because there are exceptions to the brake. For example, it generally does not apply to the first time you move into a new apartment. And on re-letting, the owner may demand the pre-rent from the new tenant, even if this is more than ten percent above the local comparative rent.

Barley sees this as one of the reasons why the rental price break has not yet worked as expected. The Minister refers to a combination of two points: On the one hand, you must hitherto as a tenant to make a so-called qualified complaint – so you must specify very precisely why the reported rent is too high. On the other hand, tenants in practice would have no knowledge of the amount of the pre-rent. This means that the information required for a complaint is unknown to most tenants. Barley now wants to change that with her lawyer. Not only is the obligation to provide information about the pre-rented area introduced, but also the procedure against excessive rent is made easier. In the future, a simple complaint will suffice, so tenants only have to state that the price brakes have been violated and do not explain this in detail.

There are also improvements for tenants in the apportionment of modernization costs

Compared to an earlier draft of the law, the information obligation of the landlord was even tightened. In the future, you will not only have to provide the pre-rent but also reveal all other possible reasons that permit an exception to the rental price break. These include, for example, extensive refurbishments or whether it is an apartment that was used and rented for the first time after 1 October 2014. This is to ensure that tenants can, in fact, detect in any conceivable case, even before the conclusion of the contract, whether the required rent is lawful.

Also with the modernization assessment, there are improvements for tenants. So far, owners can transfer eleven percent of the modernization costs to the tenant each year. There are owners who use this to evict tenants from their homes through intentionally over-renovations. In the future, landlords in areas with scarce housing should be able to move only ten instead of eleven percent on tenants. In addition, the government wants to introduce a cap on the increase in square meter rent. This can only be increased by a maximum of three euros within six years through modernization.

And what does the tenants’ association say? Although its director Lukas Siebenkotten praises “positive approaches”, they would make it easier to “pull the rent brake”. However, there will unfortunately still be too many “exceptions and special regulations” in the future, which limit the effect of the brake.

 

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