‘Bitter setback’: What’s the reaction to Berlin’s rental cap law being scrapped?

Berliners face mass rent increases after a rental cap was deemed unlawful. Here's the huge reaction from residents and politicians.

'Bitter setback': What's the reaction to Berlin's rental cap law being scrapped?
Flats in Lichtenberg, Berlin. Photo: DPA

What’s the reaction from Berliners?

Germany’s highest court has ruled that Berlin’s ‘Mietendeckel’, or rental cap, is unconstitutional.

The capital’s “Mietendeckel” law or rent cap “violates the Basic Law and is thus ruled void”, the court in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe said in a blow to millions of tenants.

READ MORE: Germany’s top court rules Berlin’s disputed rent cap unlawful

The ruling pushes up the cost of renting for many. For those who are able to afford to pay the higher rental cost, the decision is inconvenient, or could result in a change in their quality of life. 

But for others who budgeted around the Mietendeckel prices, there may be more serious repercussions such as having to move homes.

READ ALSO: Berlin’s ‘Mietendeckel’ rent freeze ruled unlawful. What does it mean for tenants?

As the tweets show, many people face higher payments each month, and uncertainty.

What’s the reaction from opposition politicians?

The rent freeze was passed by Berlin’s legislature in January 2020. It was a flagship policy of the local governing coalition of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the far-left Linke (Left) parties.

The court ruled in favour of MPs from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the pro-business Free Democrats, who are both in opposition in Berlin.

It agreed with their argument that rent policy falls under federal law not the jurisdiction of Germany’s 16 states.

The centre-right CDU and the FDP in Berlin, who had challenged the decision, slammed the SPD/Greens/Left coalition. 

Daniel Föst, spokesperson for building and housing policy of the FDP parliamentary group, said the Berlin Senate had used tenants for an “ideological experiment against their better judgement and this has failed thoroughly”. 

Now Berliners would have to “pay the piper in the form of back rent payments and housing shortages”, he said, adding that the rent cap had further fuelled the housing shortage.

Berlin CDU leader Kai Wegner, called the court ruling “a bitter defeat” for the coalition. 

“The Senate has deceived tenants in Berlin with its false rent cap promise. The damage is great. Many people have relied on the Senate’s claims,” Wegner said

Meanwhile, federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) welcomed the decision. The rent cap is now “history”, he said. “That’s good, because it was the completely wrong way to go in terms of building policy. It created uncertainty in the housing market, slowed down investments and did not create a single new flat.”

What does it mean for the Berlin government?

The decision is a clear defeat for the Berlin Senate: the rent cap was one of the central projects of the red-red-green coalition and highly controversial from the beginning. 

The leaders of Berlin’s Left Party, state chairwoman Katina Schubert, mayor and culture senator Klaus Lederer, and the two parliamentary group leaders Anne Helm and Carsten Schatz said they regreted the judges’ decision.

“For Berlin’s tenants, but also for the federal states as a whole, the decision is a bitter setback,” they said.

They stressed that this deprived the state of Berlin of the possibility to limit rents but that the federal government refused to regulate the housing market more strongly.

“That’s why we had to act at the state level and tried to exploit all possible leeway,” they said in a statement. “We knew that we were entering new legal territory with this, but from our point of view there were very good arguments for state competence.”

READ ALSO: These are the reasons why so many Germans rent rather than buy

Berlin was the first and only of Germany’s states to introduce a rent cap. The law froze rents at the level from June 2019 until 2025, after which any increases would have been limited to 1.3 percent per year in line with inflation.

According to the city’s department for urban development and housing, it affected more than 1.5 million apartments. Exceptions included social housing and new apartments built since 2014.

Some particularly high rents were even lowered, pending the court ruling.

What do people in Germany think about the rent cap?

According to a survey by the digital real estate manager Objego, more than half of Germans are in favour of a rent freeze policy like the one in Berlin.

The representative survey of 2,500 tenants and landlords across the country found 54 percent of Germans would be in favour of the “Mietendeckel”. A total of 30 percent of those surveyed voted against it.

And the poll found that a third of the landlords are also in favour of a rent cap.

However, around 54 percent of the landlords surveyed said they did not want an upper rent limit.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.