The rent brake is extended – and with stricter rules. The federal cabinet decided that the regulation will apply for another five years, until 2025. In addition, tenants are to be reimbursed for overpayments of rent for up to two and a half years in the future.
"With the extension and tightening of the rent brake we will further steam the dynamic of the rent development until 2025", promised justice minister christine lambrecht (SPD). The changes still require the approval of the german parliament.
The price brake regulates the rent level after a move in a popular area: as a rule, the landlord may then only charge ten percent more than the local comparable rent. According to surveys by the tenants’ association, however, many landlords do not comply – partly because they do not have to fear any penalties. Previously, they did not have to pay back the overpayment, but only had to adjust the rent from the time the tenant issued a rebuke.
"Housing must remain affordable, regardless of whether it is rented or owned," lambrecht emphasized. That’s why the ancillary costs of buying houses and owner-occupied apartments should also be reduced. If the seller has hired a broker, he should pay him himself in the future, at least half of the time. The buyer must also pay his share only after the seller has proven his payment. Until now, the buyer has usually paid the entire brokerage costs. The reform will significantly reduce the cost of home ownership, said lambrecht. "This will make it easier for families to move into their own homes and build up future-proof retirement provisions."
For the tenants’ association, the changes do not go far enough. "In order to make the rent brake really effective and to stop rent gouging when apartments are re-rented, further corrections are needed," demanded managing director ulrich ropertz. The price brake must apply nationwide – not just in areas with a tight housing market. For example, saarland, saxony and saxony-anhalt had not passed any ordinance at all, and schleswig-holstein wanted to abolish its ordinance again. Exceptions also had to be eliminated. At present, for example, the landlord can demand more money if the previous tenant has already paid a higher rent.
The owners’ association haus und grund also criticized the tightening – but for a different reason. The rent cap is not suitable for securing affordable rents in conurbations and should therefore be abolished, explained president kai warnecke. With the verlangerung the policy fails. "If the federal government cares about a healthy rental housing market, it must encourage private small-scale landlords," he demanded.