Berlin’s rent freeze has begun, but nobody seems to know what’s going on. Landlords and tenants alike are confused about what to do next. Rents are now capped at the rate paid in June 2019 – all increases since then are invalid. New contracts can’t exceed about €9.80 a square meter – half as much as many advertised prices. And landlords face fines of half a million euros for cheating.
On this episode we go inside Berlin’s parliament to hear the moment the rent freeze law was passed. Supporters and opponents gave fiery speeches in a rowdy session, which ended with politicians voting to suspend the free market for rental property for five years.
We hear what landlords think about the new law. Some are devising ways to cheat – by renting to ignorant foreigners: “Those who screw their landlords are old Germans.” Despite the threat of huge fines, some don’t think the city has the resources to prosecute them.
And what should tenants do if they hope for a rent decrease? Lawyer Daniel Halmer from Wenigermieter.de says they should start adding three magic words to their rent transfers: “Zahlung unter Vorbehalt.” It means paid with reservations, and gives tenants the right to to try to claim back overpayments at a later date.
Rent Freeze is produced and presented by Joel Dullroy, Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern. Artwork by Jim Avignon. Music by Tom Evans and Ducks!. Recorded by Stephan Lindner. Rent Freeze is a production of Radio Spaetkauf and RadioEins.