There are some buzz words whirling around in Germany’s capital city. Mietendeckel (rental ceiling). Mietspiegel (rental index). Mietpreisebremse (rent freeze). These are three different concepts, but I’d like to go through the most recent development, the Mietendeckel. You might be paying too much rent and you might be entitled to a reduction. So let’s get started.
The Mietendeckel (the rental ceiling) in Berlin
This all got a bit left behind in the aftermath of Corona, but it’s incredibly important for tenants! (And I don’t use exclamation marks lightly). A new law came into force on 23.2.2020 that caps the amount of rent a landlord is allowed to charge for an apartment. The prices per square metre are based on a table that takes the following factors into consideration:
- The year of construction
- Sanitary facilities
- Apartment size
- Modernisation status
- Improvements carried out
Here’s a PDF published by the Berlin Senate that shows you the price table on the first page:
The prices shown are based on basic rental prices from June 2019.
How do I figure out my new rent?
Let’s take the first row as an example, as this is a pretty common scenario. If your building was built before 1918, you have communal heating in the building and you have your own bathroom in a 60 square metre apartment, the basic price is 6.45 EUR per square metre, so 387 EUR per month for the cold rent. But there are some extra things to consider. In which area do you live? Has your landlord made improvements? Is your apartment modernised to high standards?
Let’s say your apartment is in Prenzlauer Berg, right near Eberswalder Str. U-Bahn. According to this PDF, Prenzlauer Berg is a good location. Your landlord can add 0.74 EUR per square metre to your cold rent. For your 60qm apartment in Prenzlauer Berg, this is an extra 44.40 EUR per month. Use this link to find out whether your exact address is classified as a “good”, “medium” or “basic” area.
Let’s then say that your landlord has made some improvements to the building. This might entitle them to charge extra, but only up to an amount of 1 EUR per square metre. That’s an extra 60 EUR per month maximum.
Finally, your landlord might have not just made improvements to the building, but they’ve also modernised your apartment to a high standard. This means the apartment has at least three of the following things:
- an easily accessible elevator
- an Einbauküche (fitted kitchen)
- high-quality sanitary fittings
- high-quality flooring in most of the apartment
- an energy consumption value below 120 kWh / (m² a)
If this applies, then your landlord can increase the basic rent by 1 EUR per square metre. This would increase your cold rent by 60 EUR per month.
So, your (e.g.) highly modernised 60 square metre flat in Prenzlauer Berg with a lift, a fitted kitchen and a luxury bathroom in a building which has been improved will attract a total cold rent of 551.40 EUR per month. This is your cold rent, without extra costs or heating.
I would add 20% on top to accommodate for the wiggle room your landlord might have, which brings us up to 661.68 EUR.
Where’s the catch?
Yeah. There are a few:
The Mietendeckel won’t apply if
- your building was constructed after1st January 2014.
- you live in a subsidy, social, or student apartment (e.g. a dorm)
- your building is managed by a charity
- you live in a care facility
- you live in a penthouse built on top of an existing building
But by far, the biggest catch is this:The Mietendeckel is highly controversial and a decision by the Federal Constitutional Court is pending to see whether it will be deemed unconstitutional. If this happens, you might have to pay back all the money you saved.
For this reason, you should set the money aside until the decision is made. This might take months or years.
I’m about to sign a rental contract. How do I know what’s what?
Signing a rental contract in Berlin has become very strange since 23.02.2020. There are now usually two cold rent amounts on the contract: the legal amount of rent you’ll pay, and the amount you’ll pay if the law is deemed unconstitutional. Make sure you’re prepared to pay the latter before you sign, because you might very well have to backpay.
This seems ridiculous.
On a more serious note, if you’d like Red Tape Translation to have a look at your rental contract and explain the terms to you before you sign, send it by email and we’ll give you a quote for a 1-2 hour talk-through online. We can’t and won’t give legal advice (and thus is it not as expensive as legal advice!), it’s a verbal summary of your contract.
I found your article quite interesting.
I have one question: in case you request the rent reduction and for some reasons you end up in court, what’s the average overall cost of it? I mean the process cost + lawyer fee.
Thanks a lot.
Kathleen Parker says
Assuming you lose and the court rules that you must pay everthing? Oh, it depends on so many things – the amount of money disputed, whether it ends at the first court or get appealed, how many people are involved. Maybe 3,000 EUR? Here’s a handy calculator.