The plans of the red-red-green berlin senate for a rent cap with legally defined upper limits for housing costs are now also driving the federal government around.
"A rent cap will tighten the bottlenecks on the housing markets," said horst seehofer (CSU), the interior minister responsible for construction and housing, in response to a question from the german press agency. "Such a regulation will not create a single new apartment." It sends the wrong signal to the housing industry and "scares off investors"". The rent cap threatens the positive development of construction activity.
Although no draft legislation has yet been presented in berlin, let alone passed, the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the bundestag is considering a constitutional challenge to the plan. He considers the proposal unconstitutional, "so that we should consider going to the federal constitutional court," said vice faction leader thorsten frei to the newspapers of the funke mediengruppe. "There is already a lack of state competence," he said.
Berlin’s former justice senator thomas heilmann concurred. "We cannot allow such an overstepping of authority and such a completely unconstitutional reorganization of germany’s economic structure," the CDU member of parliament told the berlin newspaper "tagesspiegel". The union faction is the only one in the bundestag with sufficient strength to initiate a so-called norm control procedure in karlsruhe.
Berlin’s finance senator matthias kollatz (SPD) contradicts CDU politicians. Since the 2006 reform of federalism, responsibility for housing has been transferred from the federal government to the states. Rent policy, on the other hand, remains a matter for the federal government. That the CDU now categorically rules out a state of the land is "somewhat surprising," kollatz said. Left-wing party leader katja kipping told dpa that the union is providing the most inept housing minister ever. "And now the union wants to stab the only federal state in the back that consistently protects tenants."
The berlin senate wants to freeze rents in the capital for five years and possibly reduce them in part to stop the upward price spiral. On sunday, possible key points for a cap from the department of urban development senator katrin lompscher (left) became known, according to which apartments could not cost more than 3.42 to 7.97 euros cold rent per square meter in the future, depending on age and equipment. The location does not play a role. If rents are above the upper limit, residents should be able to lower them, according to the proposal. Surcharges are planned for modernizations. New buildings are to be exempt from the rent cap as of 2014.
The housing industry is appalled by the ideas and expects them to virtually kill off new construction and modernization projects. However, it is becoming increasingly clear in berlin that they are unlikely to become reality in this form. The coalition partners of the left, SPD and grune, made it clear at a senate meeting on tuesday that there was agreement on whether a rent cap should be introduced. However, a draft law had to be based on legal certainty and feasibility, explained deputy head of government ramona pop (grune) according to participants in the senate.
Kollatz said one goal of the cap is "to cut off speculative rent increases, especially future speculative rent increases."At the same time, precautions must be taken to ensure that the building can be maintained. Since berlin is entering new legal territory with the whole project, particularly careful consideration is necessary.
Kollatz thinks it’s possible that the rent cap could have been in place for longer than five years. "No one knows what the future will look like. But it always makes sense to think up an instrument so that it can be demanded if there are good reasons for doing so."At the moment it is a question of a law for five years. The responsible senator lompscher may present a first draft this week. Rent cap to come into force in 2020.
The leader of the left-wing parliamentary group in the bundestag, sahra wagenknecht, called for a rent cap at the federal level. "Instead of demanding their ineffective rent brake, the federal government should take an example from the draft of the berlin rent cap," she told the "neue osnabrucker zeitung". Grunen faction leader katrin goring-eckardt suggested anchoring an upper limit in federal rental law. "This means that the federal states can determine areas with a housing shortage in which the rent in existing rental agreements may not increase by more than three percent a year," she told the funke newspapers. The SPD economic forum rejects a rent cap.