Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled on the 15th to cancel the capital Berlin before the implementation of the “rent freeze order”, immediately triggered thousands of protests in Berlin.
Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that rent-related rules are made by the federation and that the laws at the state level (Berlin is a municipality, the equivalent of a municipality directly under the central government of China) are invalid, German television station ARD and German news agency RIA Novosti reported Wednesday. Germany’s federal government introduced so-called “rent brakes” in 2015.
Berlin’s municipal government formally decided in June 2019 to set a “rent cap” (Mietendeckel), which will come into force in May 2020 after the passage of the bill, and the rent for some 1.5 million homes in Berlin must be “frozen” for five years at The June 2019 price. It was the first time such a rule had been introduced in Germany, and it was highly controversial at the time.
The ruling means that rents previously frozen or reduced under the law can be restored to their previous levels, and a large number of tenants will have to pay back the rent that the law underpays, the German news agency reported. But Vonovia, a large rental company, said it would not ask tenants to pay back the rent, which totals about 10m euros ($78m).
The Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling was welcomed by landlords, but immediately caused many tenants to complain. Lukas Siebenkotten, president of the German Tenant Association, said the ruling was “a wake-up call to federal lawmakers that they should act to stem the rise in rent explosions in many German cities”.
On the evening of the 15th local time, thousands of people demonstrated in Berlin to protest against the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court and to demand a nationwide rent freeze. Local media reported that the same day there were attacks on the police and violations of epidemic prevention regulations, the police arrested some demonstrators.
German Economy Minister Altmaier and Interior Minister Zehofer also welcomed the court’s ruling. Altmaier supports “affordable housing” but says setting a rent cap is not the right approach, while Zehofer calls building new homes “the best way to protect tenants’ rights.”