The City of Berlin, Germany, where the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung has its international headquarters, made headlines earlier this year with the passage of a city-wide rent cap (Mietendeckel) that took effect on 23 February 2020. Passed in the Berlin House of Representatives by the Red-Red-Green coalition government made up of the Social Democrats, Die Linke, and the Greens, the law stipulates first and foremost a five-year rent freeze beginning from the cut-off date of 18 June 2019. Secondly, the city introduced a rent table for establishing specific rent ceilings, substantially lower than the rent prices currently being demanded for new rental properties. Thirdly, Berlin’s renters will be given the opportunity to have their rents reduced if they exceed the rent ceiling by more than 20 percent.
Wenke Christoph works in the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung’s Europe Unit in Berlin.
This is unexplored new legal territory for the federal state of Berlin: it marks the first time a German state has asserted its legal authority for such extensive and sweeping regulation of the rental market. But the government is not alone: the initiative was carried forward and facilitated by a broad, years-long renters’ movement in the city, and according to surveys over two-thirds of Berliners support the rent cap.
Although the specifics of the regulations would of course have to be adapted to different cities and scenarios, Berlin’s rent cap can serve as a model for other municipalities not only in Germany but around the world. For this purpose, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung has translated the text of the law into English to serve as an example and an inspiration for renters’ struggles everywhere. Download the PDF below!