It was less than four months ago that the left suffered one of its greatest defeats.

In mid-April, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the Berlin rent cap should never have been introduced.

The prestige project of the red-red-green state government, especially the building senate led by the left, had failed.

At the federal level, there is already the rental price brake, so the judges' reasoning.

Real estate associations reacted with relief, tenants' associations horrified.

Gone are the days when landlords were allowed to charge a maximum of EUR 11.54 basic rent per square meter in new contracts.

Julia Löhr

Business correspondent in Berlin.

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But the left is not giving up. On Tuesday the party presented a concept for a nationwide rent cap in Berlin. It was worked out by the sociologist Andrej Holm from Berlin's Humboldt University, who was temporary state secretary in the Berlin Building Senate after the state elections in 2016, and tenant lawyer Benjamin Raabe. It distinguishes between three levels: a balanced housing market, a tight market and “housing emergency areas”. In the latter - currently there are eleven large cities - rents are to be frozen for a certain period of time. In the event of a change of tenant, the landlord should also be allowed to charge a maximum of the local square meter rent. In addition, local politicians should be allowed to determine an “affordable rent”, a maximum of 30 percent of the median net income. If existing rents are more than 20 percent higher,should they sink.

Consequences of the Berlin rent cap

There is currently a "redistribution from bottom to top" on the housing market, criticized the housing policy spokeswoman and deputy group leader of the Left in the Bundestag, Caren Lay.

According to your calculations, around one million households would benefit from a nationwide rent cap.

In Munich, the rents in new contracts are almost 6 euros per square meter higher than in existing tenancies, according to the study with reference to data from the analysis company F + B, which is often cited in the real estate industry.

In cities like Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Freiburg, too, the gap between old and new contracts is large.

Around half of Germans live to rent, in large cities the proportion is significantly higher. How much the tenants are actually burdened has been discussed for a long time. Around half of the 8.4 million households that rent in Germany's major cities paid more than 30 percent of their household income, the union-affiliated Hans Böckler Foundation recently complained. However, the analysis also showed that the burden has tended to decrease in recent years because incomes have risen faster than rents - at least the existing rents. Company-related institutes such as the IW Cologne also refer to this development.

The Berlin rent cap initially only applied to new contracts, later also to existing tenancies. The consequences quickly became apparent: the advertised rents actually fell, from an average of 10.46 to 9.64 euros per square meter, as the online portal ImmobilienScout24 reported in the spring. However, the number of apartments on offer has shrunk much more sharply: by around 30 percent. Some landlords apparently preferred to leave vacant apartments empty or to offer them for sale. When asked about this, Andrej Holm argued on Tuesday: "The decline mainly affected the high-priced apartments." In addition, people generally moved less in the Corona year 2020.

A look at the election programs of the SPD and the Greens also shows that the idea of ​​a rent cap is not over with the ruling from Karlsruhe. In tense markets, the Social Democrats want to allow rent increases at best within the framework of the inflation rate, which enables green rent ceilings in existing buildings. Even if a red-green-red alliance at the federal level is unlikely in view of the differences in foreign policy, for example, these parties would probably quickly agree, at least on the question of the rent cap.