Renters are increasingly unable to afford housing in Berlin. An influential property-owners' association has called for landlords to raise rents before the bill can go into effect.
The city of Berlin called on Tuesday for a five-year freeze on rents in the German capital beginning in 2020. Housing costs in the city have doubled over the past decade.
The city's proposed freeze would "protect against rent increases for 1.5 million apartments," according to city officials.
The move was announced after a city council meeting held Tuesday. Urban Development and Housing Senator Katrin Lompscher from the Left Party said, "The Senate (Berlin's executive body) has decided that there are legal grounds for capping rents." Lompscher will now have until October 15 to present a bill to be voted upon by the Senate.
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Trouble for the coalition?
Berlin is governed by a three-party coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Green Party and the Left Party. The SPD, junior coalition partner to Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) — as well as its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) — has called for a similar freeze across the country.
The prospect of such a proposal could put further strain on Germany's already hobbled governing coalition, as Merkel has voiced support for investors in the past.
Proactive property owners
Haus und Grund, Germany's largest property owners' association, wasted no time in calling on its members to pre-emptively raise rents on Monday before the new bill was publicly announced.
A surge in prices has led some residents to call for property to be seized from landlords possessing 3,000 apartments or more. Those behind the initiative have already gathered more than 77,000 signatures in hopes of getting a referendum on the issue.