Berlin rent freeze: All important details about the law

The rent freeze (Mietendeckel) is introduced gradually and has various key points. Have you lost the overview? We have compiled all the important information on the law and its exceptions.

The 3 key points of the law

The law on rent freeze in the housing sector in Berlin (MietenWoG Bln), better known as the Berlin "Mietendeckel", is intended to prevent a further increase in Berlin rents. Three central points make up the law:

1. rent freeze

Since 18 June 2019, no rent increases are permitted (§ 3 MietenWoG Bln):

If you as a Berlin tenant have received a rent increase since then, you can reclaim the amount of the increase from the landlord since 23 February 2020. If your flat has been modernised since the introduction of the rent freeze, the landlord may apportion the costs to the rent by a maximum of 1 euro per square metre.

2. rent cap

Since 23 February 2020, a rent ceiling has been in force for new rentals (§ 4 MietenWoG Bln):

According to the law, the net cold rent may not be higher than the rent table according to §6, which is based on the rent index 2013. If "modern equipment" is available, the landlord may exceed the rent ceiling by 1 euro per square metre. Modern equipment is, for example, a fitted kitchen or high-quality sanitary facilities. If your rent exceeds the amount in the rent table, you can demand a reduction in rent from the landlord. The easiest way to determine your personal maximum rent is to use the CONNY rent freeze calculator.

3. rent reduction

From 23 November 2020, existing rents can also be reduced (§ 5 MietenWoG Bln):

The typical rent burden describes the proportion of income spent by consumers on rent. This currently stands at 44 percent for a newly rented flat compared to 33.3 percent for existing tenancies. At the same time, household incomes are rising much more slowly. One reason for this is that the demand for housing is growing faster than new buildings are being built.

The law is designed to ease the burden on households with an excessively high rent burden. Accordingly, households whose rent expenditure exceeds 30 percent of net income may apply for a rent reduction in line with the rent freeze. The following applies to tenancies newly created after the act comes into force: The rent may not exceed both the rent level of the last tenancy and the new maximum limit. Both conditions must be met.

In addition, rents are to be frozen for five years from 2020 (based on the rent level on 18 June 2019) so that landlords are not allowed to increase rents during this period. If the net cold rent is 20 percent above the value specified in the rent table, the rent is considered "excessive" and may be reduced. This also applies to old contracts.

Exceptions from the rent freeze law

According to § 1 MietenWoG Bln, the rent cap does not apply to the following flats:

  • Dwellings which have been created by publicly subsidised housing construction,
  • Dwellings for which public aid has been granted to enable them to be repaired or modernised
  • New buildings that were ready for occupancy for the first time from 1 January 2014,
  • Formerly uninhabitable living space, which has been made habitable again since 1 January 2014 by an effort corresponding to the new building.
  • Owner-occupied flats and social housing.

If you claim a rent reduction from your landlord on the basis of the rent freeze, the landlord has the possibility to invoke one of the applicable exceptions. It is important to know that the landlord has to justify exactly which exception he is invoking. He must also provide evidence of this.

As a tenant, you have a right to information about the rent that is permissible in your case according to Berlin law. You can also apply to your district office for information as to whether one of the exceptions applies to you.

How can I claim my rights under the law?

If your own rent is too high according to the rent freeze, the tenant should have the right to reduce it. An application for this can be made to the district housing office. In this case, the effect of the rent reduction can be claimed at the earliest from the day the application is submitted. It is therefore to be expected that with the entry into force of the new law, a flood of tenants will apply. Added to this is the legal uncertainty that the law currently still entails.

CONNY can help you. With our rent freeze calculator you can find out how much rent reduction you are entitled to.

You would like to make preliminary
use of the rent freeze?
Learn now, how much you can monthly
save with the rent freeze.

Legal problems with the law

Since the announcement of the law, the extent to which the Berlin rent freeze is in conformity with the constitution has been discussed among lawyers and in the Berlin Senate. In particular, the question is whether the Berlin state government even has the authority to pass such a law.

The law has already had to take many detours and is still under scrutiny. A final decision by the Federal Constitutional Court is expected in the first half of 2021. The law can still be overturned and unfortunately does not yet offer Berlin tenants final legal certainty.

Update of 29 October 2020:

An emergency appeal against the rent freeze law was rejected by the Federal Constitutional Court. With this application, a Berlin landlord wanted to prevent the second stage of the rent freeze from coming into force. The Berlin rent freeze has thus cleared a hurdle: It still applies that Berlin landlords must reduce excessively high rents from 23 November 2020.

Attention Berlin tenants: The final decision by the BVerfG on whether the rent freeze is at all constitutional is still pending and will probably not be made until 2021. Anyone who is already saving monthly through the rent freeze should definitely save the difference until the final decision of the Federal Constitutional Court. Tenants might have to pay the saved rent back to their landlords if the rent freeze is tilted.

Good alternative to the rent cap

The rent control was only finally confirmed by the Federal Court of Justice in 2019 and is in conformity with the constitution. It has been in force in Berlin since 2015 and has been successfully enforced by CONNY for thousands of tenants. The differences between rent freeze and rent control at a glance.

Advantage of the Berlin rent freeze:

  • Potentially higher savings potential: A potentially higher savings potential should the rent freeze become legally enforceable in the future
  • Also for older rental contracts: In contrast to the rent control, the rent freeze also applies to rental agreements concluded before 1 June 2015.

Advantage of the rent control:

  • Legal certainty: Courts recognise the rent control and its admissibility has been clarified by the highest court.
  • Experience: There is extensive experience with the enforcement of the rent control. On average, tenants at CONNY alone reduce their rent by almost 200 euros per month.
  • Realisability: The rent control can be applied not only in Berlin, but also in a large number of cities and municipalities in Germany.

You want to be
on the safe side?
Learn now, how you can monthly save
with the rent control law.