Berlin has become the first city in Germany in which rent-control legislation has come into force – in a bid to put the breaks on some of the fastest rising rents in Europe.
From Monday landlords in the capital will be barred from increasing rents by more than 10% above the local average. Such controls were already in place for existing tenants but have now been extended to new contracts.
‘The rent ceiling is very important for Berlin because the difference between the rent paid in existing contracts and new contracts is so high’ said Reiner Wild – managing director of the Berlin Tenants’ Association. ‘The other problem is that we have 40,000 more inhabitants per year. Because of this situation the housing market is very strong’.
Berlin is pioneering the rent cap after the national parliament approved the law – targeted at areas with housing shortages – in March. Berliners say flat-hunting is becoming increasingly competitive.
‘We were looking for the best part of a year’ said Vlasis Tritakis – a student. He – his partner Sofia – and their 18-month-old son moved out of a flat-share into a one-bedroomed apartment in the district of Kreuzberg in April.
But sooner or later they will have to find a place big enough for his son to have a room of his own. They say they don’t stand much of a chance against competition from potential tenants with better finances. ‘I don’t know how we will do it’ said Tritakis.
Although rents are still low compared with other European capitals – Wild says it is vital to keep the city affordable for lower-income residents. ‘We don’t want a situation like in London or Paris’ said Wild. ‘The reality in Paris or London is that people with low income have to live in the further-out districts of the city’.