Culture Senator Klaus Lederer (left) considers an income-related rent cap to be “unrealistic”. A procedure for examining tens of thousands of tenancies is not practicable, he told the Tagesspiegel about a proposal by the governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD).
“At best, this is a suitable solution for cases of hardship,” said her coalition partner. Giffey had suggested that renters should spend a maximum of 30 percent of their income on rent. She had suggested that a “public rental price inspection agency, which would determine how much the rent was exceeded”, could be set up.
Lederer rejected Giffey’s criticism of the left-wing faction’s position on housing market policy. “Everyone is currently thinking about solutions to the rent issue. There’s no point in throwing vocabulary at each other.” Giffey had criticized a position paper by the coalition partner against excessive densification of existing housing estates – the SPD is expressly in favor of densification.
Another proposal by the left to increase the proportion of social housing in large new construction projects to 60 percent is not realistic and came like a “quay out of a box”, according to Giffey.
The CDU is also skeptical as to whether an income-related rent cap will solve the problems. “The target is correct, but it is not a new proposal. Large housing companies such as Deutsche Wohnen have been doing this for a long time,” said CDU faction leader Kai Wegner on Sunday.
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“This tenant promise can be a result at the end of the planned housing alliance. But that will only be achieved if, in return, more and more affordable housing is created,” said Wegner. “As long as the subject of expropriations looms over everything as a threat, it won’t work.”
Similar tones were heard from the Bundestag about Giffey’s proposal. Doubts even came from within his own party. It is correct to put the rent limit at 30 percent of the disposable income on the agenda, said the housing policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, Bernhard Daldrup, the “world”. However, it appears to be a “challenge” to introduce a 30 percent limit that is legally verifiable.
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The left-wing faction in the Bundestag considers the move to be counterproductive. “Roughly half of the tenants now spend more than 30 percent of their salary on rent, so something urgently needs to change,” said Caren Lay, the spokeswoman for housing policy. “However, Ms. Giffey’s proposal would mean that in future landlords would mainly want to rent to people with high incomes and that poor households would hardly be able to find an apartment.”
Every landlord, including the state-owned housing associations, would only want to rent to higher earners. Low earners would then have no chance at all.
The housing policy spokesman for the Union faction, Berlin MP Jan-Marco Luczak (CDU), considers the idea to be a “politically manageable diversionary maneuver”. “This is intended to take pressure off the expropriation debate, which threatens to split the coalition.”
[An income-related rent cap in Berlin? Franziska Giffey’s advance raises many questions, comments Lorenz Maroldt in the Checkpoint newsletter.]
A binding upper rent limit and rent inspection agency is “the first step towards a fully regulated and officially monitored rental market,” Luczak told the “Welt”. This would be legally questionable and actually counterproductive. Because tenants would have to give their landlord or the rent control agency a constant account of their current monthly income.
“Mayor Giffey’s proposal just creates a bureaucracy monster and leaves many questions unanswered,” the newspaper quoted Daniel Föst, spokesman for construction and housing policy for the FDP parliamentary group. “Every time the salary goes up, does the rent go up too? If you have a better job, do you report it to the rental price inspection agency? The proposal is not thought through to the end, nor will it solve Berlin’s housing cost problem.”
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After widespread criticism, the Berlin Senate defended its proposal. “The 30 percent rule is a procedure that the state’s own housing associations have been using for years,” said the Senate Department for Building, Housing and the Environment on Monday. “The current proposal means that this regulation will now also be transferred to the private sector. We think that’s a viable way to get the rent burden on people in Berlin under control.”
“It is not about a new legal regulation that the state of Berlin wants to initiate,” the building senate administration continues: “That’s why there is no new uncontrollable regulatory monster here.”
Rather, the proposal is aimed at a voluntary commitment by the construction and housing industry within the framework of the alliance for new housing construction and affordable housing. In addition to business and politics, tenants’ and social associations and trade unions are also represented.
The governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) also commented on the criticism on Monday: “The rent limit is only part of several measures that we are currently discussing in the alliance,” she said.