DIE ZEIT: Ms Lompscher, you are a building senator in Berlin. Mr. Abraham, you are a board member of a building cooperative landlord in Berlin. Addressed to you both: Are the rents in German cities indecent high?
Katrin Lompscher: Without question yes. Not continuous, but the direction in which they move is indecent.
Michael Abraham: Such rents are the exception. The broad market has no indecent high prices. Berlin certainly not.
TIME: From what price do you start indecent high rents for you?
Abraham: I would say 16 to 17 euros per square meter cold rent. In the new building it is still a little more. There the investments are higher. Therefore, higher rents are appropriate there.
Lompscher: There is no Euro number from me. If someone has to pay 30 percent of their income for the rent, that's a lot. If the amount is significantly higher, it is indecent much.
ZEIT : Do you live for rent?
Abraham : Of course. I have been a tenant of my cooperative for more than 30 years. I pay a bit more than six euros rent.
Lompscher : I live in a new building in Charlottenburg, pay around 15 euros square meters. So much more than Mr. Abraham, and clearly too much.
ZEIT : You, Mrs. Lompscher, want to introduce a radical rental cover. For five years rents should not be increased. If you pay more than 30 percent of your net income, you may even be able to lower the rent. Mr. Abraham, how do you as a landlord think so?
Abraham : Bad. Because for this cover all landlords are lumped. It does not matter if you prefer to rent cheap or very expensive: for everyone, the rents they are taking so far are fixed. Cover it and you're done!
Lompscher : We have to treat everyone equally before the law. It is of course clear that not all landlords are meant, but only certain.
ZEIT : You mean funds and larger housing companies like Deutsche Wohnen?
Lompscher : I mean those landlords who are striving for maximum yield, and would not want to tie this to the size of a business, but to the business conduct. We must not leave the rental price development and thus the existential decision on whether people lose their homes to the market. We are not concerned with tormenting individual landlords, let alone those who have a social housing policy.
ZEIT : Mr. Abraham, you are renting around 4,500 apartments in Berlin. What does the rental cover mean specifically for you?
Abraham : If we are not allowed to increase rents in the next five years, that means a significant loss of income for our cooperative, which has always managed well in the last 100 years or so. Our rent is on average 5.80 euros per square meter, so not very high. If we are not allowed to increase rents moderately as usual, that will be tough: we will lose five million euros over the next five years. We can then invest less than planned.
Lompscher : You are suppressing one thing, Mr Abraham: Landlords who take lower rents than those of the rented cover can increase this moderately by 1.3 percent per year.
Abraham : That is alien to reality. 1.3 percent may correspond to the increase in the cost of living, but it does not take into account that the construction costs in Berlin annually increase by six percent. If I want to invest, renovate old buildings, build new ones, then I need companies that do that and I have to pay for them. In addition, 1.3 percent rental income is of no use to me.
ZEIT : If we follow the previous logic of Berlin politics, then the answer would not be: After the rental cover of the cost of building must come?
Abraham : That would fit. Only that would not work, because the companies then just build elsewhere. If we invest less, this is especially true of the small craftsmen. They are already asking if we cancel orders because of the rental cover.
Lompscher : I believe in another development. In addition, there are also the construction projects on the part of the city. And our building construction department sometimes has trouble getting bids from companies at all. If what you describe happens, that will not happen soon.