In many federal states, the rent brake was for a long time more of a theoretical nature.
Because the state governments failed to include a reason in their ordinances on the rent brake from 2015, they were cashed in almost everywhere by the courts.
In the meantime, a rental price brake applies in most federal states because the governments have improved.
But there are still none in Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Saarland.
And where it applies, it is obviously gladly broken.
According to customers of the consumer rights platform Conny, rental prices are often too high.
"This is usually due to landlords who do not adhere to the rental price brake, ie Paragraph 556d BGB, and who demand excessive rents," says Daniel Halmer, founder of Conny (formerly "Wenigermiete.de").
Source: WORLD infographic
It's not about peanuts.
In seven large cities with a total of several thousand cases, the company achieved rent reductions averaging at least 200 euros per month last year, according to the evaluation, which is exclusively available to WELT.
In Stuttgart, customers came up with exactly this value.
The average rent reduction achieved by Conny was highest at 309 euros per month in Munich.
It was similarly high in Berlin (287 euros), Hamburg (276 euros), Potsdam (267 euros), Frankfurt (222 euros) and Düsseldorf (205 euros).
Conny only earns if it is successful.
Then, as a rule, a third of the savings of the first year are collected.
On average, a customer who pulled the rental price brake with Conny in 2020 will save 3444 euros this year, says Halmer.
That's 287 euros a month - a figure that corresponds to that in the capital, because the company has a particularly large number of customers there.
“The rent brake is most often used in Berlin.
However, enforcement can take a long time, ”says Halmer.
“In most cases, this depends on how willing the landlords are to cooperate.” It took 429 days to push through a rent reduction of 287.52 euros at the housing company Ado.
The fastest agreement - four days - was achieved with the Objective 7 property fund.
It was about 165.44 euros less rent.
Grand Properties SA was the front runner in rent increases
"We are allowed to deal with some landlords on a regular basis," says Halmer.
It is noticeable that these are exclusively profit-oriented housing companies - including the two largest German landlords, Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen.
In the period from 2015 to 2020, the average rents at Vonovia rose by almost 23 percent, at Deutsche Wohnen it was 17.7 percent.
The front runner, however, was Grand Properties SA with around 60,000 apartments in Germany.
There rents rose by 37.7 percent in five years.
The figures were taken from the housing associations' annual reports.
As a reference value, Conny cites the rental price development at the Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (GdW), whose approximately 3000 members, mostly organized as cooperatives, own around six million rental apartments.
At GdW, rents have increased by 9.3 percent since 2015.
This week, tenants in federal states that do not have or did not have such a facility are also hoping for repayment due to the rent brake.
However, it is not the landlord who should pay, but the federal state because, due to negligent legislation, it has failed to pass the rent brake, which has been in place for almost six years, in good time and with legal force.
And it took a while for this bug to be fixed.
Because affected tenants could have achieved a rent reduction during this time, they should compensate the land.
The Hessian ordinance is at issue before the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe.
Halmers Conny GmbH wants to enforce for tenants in Frankfurt that the land has to reimburse them for rents paid too much.
They had sued their landlord in vain because of the ineffective regulation.
"If tenants want to enforce a law, trusting the validity of a statutory ordinance, and this ordinance subsequently proves to be invalid due to gross official errors, it is only fair to compensate the tenants for the damage", says Lukas Siebenkotten, President of German Tenants' Association.
"The BGH now has the chance to determine this."
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“Everything on shares” is the daily stock market shot from the WELT business editorial team.
Every morning from 7 a.m. with the financial journalists Moritz Seyffarth and Holger Zschäpitz.
For stock market experts and beginners.
Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer.
Or directly via RSS feed.
In the lower courts, however, a claim for compensation was excluded.
Courts have argued that tenants should not have built trust in the existence of the regulation, as its effectiveness was very quickly questioned.
In addition, there is no direct official duty towards the citizens affected by a legal regulation.
"That is an argument that many tenants do not believe," said Siebenkotten.
"If the state officially enacts a regulation and announces it in the official gazette, the citizen must be able to trust that it is also valid." It is in the nature of things and should not be that rent brake regulations are attacked by parts of the population and politicians Weaken citizens' trust in the competence of the state authorities.
Justice Minister Lambrecht wants to strengthen legal techs like Conny
According to Federal Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht (SPD), the enforcement of consumer claims should at least be easier in the future.
Last week the federal government passed the draft of a “law to promote consumer-friendly offers in the legal services market”.
"There are now numerous innovative and easily accessible legal service offers from debt collection companies, for example in the area of passenger rights and tenancy law," said Lambrecht.
One wants to ensure comparable competitive conditions for the offers of lawyers and debt collection service providers.
It should also be ensured that consumers have sufficient clarity about the advantages and disadvantages of the individual offers.
Companies like Conny would mostly act as registered debt collection service providers under the Legal Services Act (RDG), according to Lambrecht.
In order to create a level playing field, lawyers should in future be allowed to agree to a larger extent than before on success fees and to assume procedural costs, as the competition does.
For Halmer, the planned law is a confirmation.
For Wenigermiete.de, he had already obtained the BGH in 2019 that his company could also enforce tenants' legal claims against their landlords in court.
Several local courts had not previously approved the Conny predecessor because, as a debt collection company, he lacked the legitimation to conduct litigation.
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