Does Berlin have any kind of rent 'control'?

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I just read an article that claims that rents in Berlin have increased 25% over the past 5 years.

 

Is there any kind of rent 'control' in Berlin?

 

Also, are current residents equally subject to rent increases compared to new tenants?

 

Thanks.

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25% in the past 5 years sounds about right. Although there are limits on how much rents may be increased, stagnating (and sometimes even falling) wages sometimes even force long-term tenants to look for cheaper housing. Many landlords use this as an opportunity to renovate and increase the rent for the next tenants.

 

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find the cheap housing of urban legends.

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there are limits on how much rents may be increased

Thanks. What are the limits and what government agency oversees them?

 

Also, are rents continuously subject to increase, or are tenancies governed by leases lasting several years, during which the rent can't be increased?

 

Is all rental housing in Berlin regulated (i.e., re: rents and rent increases) or is some exclusively market-based?

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Thanks. Is any of that organization's information available in English?

 

Since my last post, I've read that Berlin does indeed regulate rents. However, I haven't found any information about whether under Berlin's rent regulation policies a 'new' tenant pays the same amount as the previous tenant had been paying (i.e., the one who left the flat, creating a vacancy) -- in other words, whether the rent regulation system favors 'tenants in residence' over 'new tenants.'

 

Are landlords allowed to add '’vacancy increases' to the base rent for new tenants &/or to increase the rent to match current market rents?

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In general rent increases for sitting tenants are strictly controlled, by contract or by law. There is no such control over rent for new tenants, which are simply set by market forces, with the exception of state funded or sponsored accommodation. The high turnover of rented accommodation in Berlin leads to escalating average rental costs, probably moreso than other German cities. Although still tightly restricted, Landlords do have some lee-way in increasing rent for sitting tenants to conform with local average levels when they can show that their rent is substantially below a local accepted average, but they can't apply these increases overnight. There are a number of time consuming formalities that must be followed if they wish to (attempt to) increase rents in accordance with this local average.

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I heard that there if you keep the apartment - then there is a limit of how much they can raise the rent BUT any NEW contract signed can be raised kind of freely....

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There is no such control over rent for new tenants, which are simply set by market forces, with the exception of state funded or sponsored accommodation.

The Deutscher Mieterbund is constantly trying to get such a restriction into law. Since we have that quaint Neo-liberale Regierung though we actually get government reps saying this would be anti-capitalism.

 

 

The high turnover of rented accommodation in Berlin leads to escalating average rental costs, probably moreso than other German cities.

 

Nah, not really (for the last part). Berlin currently faces high short-term escalation in comparison to other cities - i.e. compared to last year. Overall, regarding new rental costs compared to existing rental costs on average Berlin scores only midrange. Lower midrange. Tight markets have prices of between 30 and 50 Percent above Mietspiegel for new rentals. Berlin, depending on neighborhood, is at between +10 and +20. The outlaying quarters, e.g. Spandau and Pankow, are usually at the upper level of this.

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In general rent increases for sitting tenants are strictly controlled, by contract or by law.

 

Thanks for that (& the other) information. "By contract" refers to a stipulation in the lease or something else?

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Berlin currently faces high short-term escalation in comparison to other cities - i.e. compared to last year. Overall, regarding new rental costs compared to existing rental costs on average Berlin scores only midrange. Lower midrange. Tight markets have prices of between 30 and 50 Percent above Mietspiegel for new rentals. Berlin, depending on neighborhood, is at between +10 and +20. The outlaying quarters, e.g. Spandau and Pankow, are usually at the upper level of this.

 

Thanks. Why do you refer to the current acceleration in rents in Berlin as "short-term"? -- i.e., why is it not likely to continue?

 

Also, what does "Mietspeigel" refer to -- an 'average' (or 'median') rent?

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Thanks for that (& the other) information. "By contract" refers to a stipulation in the lease or something else?

 

Yes - for example a lease can stipulate an annual rent rise of x%

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Also, what does "Mietspeigel" refer to -- an 'average' (or 'median') rent?

 

A Mietspiegel is an official publication by various city governments (*) that documents current rent levels for preexisting rental contracts for various neighborhoods in a city, diversified by (at least) size of flat and age of building, usually by level of comfort fittings in the apartment too. In Germany these publications have legal relevance, e.g. you cannot raise the rent on a preexisting contract beyond a certain level above the Mietspiegel ranking for that flat.

 

(*) Not every city has one. Berlin does, but it's pretty broad and simplistic in statistical terms compared to other such publications. It limits itself to about 100 different possible rent levels in a partially filled 11x12 matrix of rough building age by size and location.

 

 

Thanks. Why do you refer to the current acceleration in rents in Berlin as "short-term"? -- i.e., why is it not likely to continue?

 

The rent acceleration in Berlin jumped almost 100% for the 2012->2013 comparison (+14%) when compared to that of 2011->2012 (+8%). Either this acceleration stabilizes to a reasonable amount (5-10% range is normal) within the next year, or the Berlin market turns sour rather quickly stemming from oversaturating the high-income (*) rental market.

 

(*) - high-income for Berlin, not for Germany. Rents in Berlin continue to remain on the very cheap side.

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The rent acceleration in Berlin jumped almost 100% for the 2012->2013 comparison (+14%) when compared to that of 2011->2012 (+8%). Either this acceleration stabilizes to a reasonable amount (5-10% range is normal) within the next year, or the Berlin market turns sour rather quickly stemming from oversaturating the high-income (*) rental market.

 

(*) - high-income for Berlin, not for Germany. Rents in Berlin continue to remain on the very cheap side.

 

Thanks. Am I correct that the "rent acceleration" you refer to is a concern only for 'new' tenants -- i.e., existing tenants would not be subject to this acceleration or in fact any increases not provided for either by law or contract (rather than by markets), and that even allowed increases on existing tenancies would (going by prior posts here) have tended toward percentages that were substantially less than either the 8% or 14% levels you cited for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013?

 

Also, by "or the Berlin market turns sour" are you foretelling that if rent stabilization (market-based) doesn't soon occur Berlin will become a place where only the rich will be able to afford the available rental apartments?

 

My interest in this has to do with trying to determine how to plan a move to Berlin (probably permanently), while also weighing the feasibility of temporarily holding on to my apartment in New York -- at least until I'm certain I'll be allowed to remain in Germany as a permanent resident.

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Am I correct that the "rent acceleration" you refer to is a concern only for 'new' tenants

Yes. Existing contracts are subject to law, which stipulates a maximum 15% increase over any period of three years (barring extensive modernization/rebuilding of the flat, for which the landlord can raise the rent afterwards), so you have an easily calculable base to work from.

 

 

Also, by "or the Berlin market turns sour" are you foretelling that if rent stabilization (market-based) doesn't soon occur Berlin will become a place where only the rich will be able to afford the available rental apartments?

 

Nah, the market will regulate itself - Berlin isn't a tight enough market for that to happen unless its population suddenly starts significantly increasing. At some point people will no longer be willing to pay what is demanded as rent, and will turn to cheaper apartments (or other cities). The market will react to that and establish upper boundaries. Berlin also simply doesn't have the economic and social structure for the market to do otherwise.

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The new law may be good for already existing tenants, but for new tenants it does not apply. Example: the apartment we rented went up 250 euros/month compared to what the prior renter was paying for it. True - it has new windows since, but still. Basically the rent was raised 63% or so and nothing can stop the owner to do that when the apartment is vacated. 

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Actually, that's exactly what the new law is supposed to prevent, @Worldexpat. It states that the new tenant cannot be charged more than 10% of the rent that the former tenant paid in cities with tight housing markets (a status that is determined by the city itself).

 

If your landlord is charging you more, as you state, I strongly suggest you meet with your local Mieterverein to explore possible relief measures.

 

There are two caveats to the above advice, however:

1) The Mietpreisbremse ("rent brake") law only came into effect on June 1 of this year. If your lease was signed before that, you're SOL.

2) Landlords are entitled to apply 11% of the cost of upgrades (such as new windows) to the annual rent. It's doubtful that he spent over 27 grand on new windows, but you never know.

 

Good luck, and please let us know how it works out.

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El Jeffo, then the law is not working! And not knowing the language puts me into a big disadvantage of trying to "fight" with the owner. The windows are dirt cheap, perhaps the cheapest on the market. Mietpreisbremse would most likely have access to the rent since we registered and they get that information from the rental agreement. And the rental is after 01June. Could I do something about it? - possibly if I knew German to "fight" for my rights. Would I? - most likely not as language barrier puts me into a great disadvantage. The reason I know the rent went up that much is cause the neighbor told me. I have no proof besides the word of the neighbor. I am sure there are records somewhere in the city db, but again - long shot to do something perhaps, which down the road may bring me more trouble and headache (i.e. the landlord will not give me good recommendations when I leave, on the contrary - will give us terrible refs, will keep on raising the rent with the maximum for no good reason, will not do critical repairs in case of the roof leaking… etc.). 

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El Jeffo, then the law is not working! And not knowing the language puts me into a big disadvantage of trying to "fight" with the owner.

 

How can you claim that the law is not working if you are too lazy to even fight for your rights? Have you even bothered to join the Mieterverein?

 

Could I do something about it? - possibly if I knew German to "fight" for my rights. Would I? - most likely not as language barrier puts me into a great disadvantage.

 

Learning German would make many aspects of life in Germany easier.

 

long shot to do something perhaps, which down the road may bring me more trouble and headache (i.e. the landlord will not give me good recommendations when I leave, on the contrary - will give us terrible refs, will keep on raising the rent with the maximum for no good reason, will not do critical repairs in case of the roof leaking… etc.). 

What are you talking about? You don't need a reference from your previous landlord, only a letter that you don't have any rent owning. Furthermore, if the landlord doesn't perform critical repairs, you can also go the Mieterverein.

 

Don't blame the new law for your own unwillingness to even try to tackle the problem.

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engelchen, you are right - can't argue with any of your comments. However, if the owner was respecting the law, thus - he had no doubts that it would work, he wouldn't raise the rent so much, would he? Thus, my pure handicapness of not knowing the language is an issue here, but is that the only issue? And how come the Mieterverein do not keep track of the rent cost and thus issue some sort of warnings and etc to the landlords? Shame on me not knowing German and not feeling comfortable to fight for my rights!!!!! Is the law designed that it may work only if someone seeks his/her rights? Otherwise not? 

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