Berlin's rent cap is history: What lessons should be learned?

The decision of Germany's Constitutional Court on Berlin's rent cap is a big topic in Europe's press beyond the country's borders. The Berlin law entered into force in February 2020 and froze existing rents. Now the court in Karlsruhe has ruled that the legislative powers to adopt such a law were not in the hands of individual German states, but at the federal level, which had already established a 'brake on rents' in 2015.

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Housing must not become a luxury

The taz sees the ruling as bad news:

“It was an attempt to slam the brakes on a rental market that has gone completely crazy. And it should also be considered a reaction to too little being done at the national level. The fact that freezing rents for a limited period of time and setting an upper limit on rents is labelled a radical step merely shows the antisocial way in which some people are responding to the housing issue. ... Affordable housing is one of the major social issues of our time, and this is the case far beyond Berlin. Housing must not become a luxury, for that would endanger social cohesion in our society.”

Kurier (AT) /

Fanning the flames

Der Kurier explains that the law had disastrous consequences for the housing market:

“The number of rental apartments on offer dropped by half, and private investment in housing plummeted. Hardly surprising: maintaining an old apartment building is expensive ... That is why more and more landlords are selling their properties to institutional developers who either convert them to owner-occupied flats or demolish them and replace them with new buildings. Which often does not improve the cityscape. If the policy is to maintain the townscape and also do justice to landlords, then it would be high time for new rental laws that sufficiently reflect the interests of private landlords too. Reasonably priced housing may be a fundamental right, but fulfilling it is the task of social housing.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Madrid's leftists should look to Berlin

El Mundo takes up a campaign pledge of the leftists in the Madrid region following the ruling:

“While the German Constitutional Court overturned the cap on rents in Berlin because the authority that issued it lacked the legal authority to do so, Podemos presented the crowning measure of its electoral programme: nothing other than capping rents at 30 percent of the average income in a residential zone. Germany's federal system has distinct similarities to Spain's system of autonomy. That is why the proposal put forward by Podemos could also end up being declared unconstitutional.”