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Tenants get back overpaid rent

According to the DIW, the rent brake slowed the rent increase moderately. However, since the relevant starting position from 2015 has apparently not yet changed, the rent brake has been extended to 2025.

In 2015, the consumer minister argued for the rent brake and said the law was actually passed for a period of five years, saying “apartments are not a commodity, but people’s homes”. However, since the Federal Government has determined that the starting point is still the same, the rent brake was extended at the beginning of April for a further five years. In addition, some tightening measures were implemented to increase the effect of the rental price brake, as determined by the DIW.

So far, there has been no incentive for landlords to comply with the law

“The rental price brake was introduced with the aim of dampening the rise in rents on tight housing markets,” says the federal government – it is determined at the state level where the housing market is classified as tight. The rent brake was apparently introduced in 315 German cities and municipalities.

The problem so far was that landlords who did not abide by the rent brake only benefited from it. The Tagesschau quoted Daniel Halmer last year, who is committed to tightening the rental price brake with the commercial website vielermiete.de: “At the moment, the landlord basically has no fear of damage. He can only ever make a profit ”. Rental associations have also been campaigning for the tightening of the law for a long time – Jutta Hartmann from the German tenants’ association has criticized the law for the Süddeutsche Zeitung in relation to the fact that a violation of the rent brake is “not even an administrative offense”.

Refunds can be requested for recently concluded contracts

Tenants who find that their rent is higher than the comparative rent can complain to their landlord in writing and demand a lower rent. Hartmann explains: “So far, the lower amount only applied from the time of the complaint. For contracts that were concluded from April 2020, tenants can even request a refund retrospectively for 30 months. ” However, the law requires that the complaint be made within the first 30 months of the lease.

Since January 2019, landlords who demand a rent of more than 10 percent above the comparative rent have to state without asking how much rent was required from the previous tenant. The decisive factor is probably the rent that was requested in the previous month.

Warning: there are also many exceptions

So that the rent brake does not deter the creation of new living space on tight markets, there is an exception for properties that have been built or extensively renovated since 2014, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung: The rent brake does not apply here. Another exception is the case that the previous tenant has already asked for more rent than the rent brake would allow – the rent brake does not apply here either, the same rent can be requested as before.

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Nevertheless, it may be worthwhile for tenants to compare their rent with the comparative rent and to check whether the living space is on a tight housing market and whether a lower rent cannot be claimed. It is also worthwhile for landlords to check what legal options and obligations they will face when tightening the rental price brake.

Image sources: Younes Stiller Kraske / Shutterstock.com

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