the berlin senate has introduced a “rental price brake” to slow down the city’s spiralling housing costs. germany has the lowest level of home-ownership in the european union, and berlin’s 3.5 million residents – over 80% of whom are renters – were the first in the country to experience the “mietpreisbremse” in action from june 2015.
The median price per square metre is calculated in each of the city’s districts based on a census of rent prices, and landlords are prohibited from raising rents above ten per cent of the neighbourhood average.
We don’t want a situation like in London or Paris. The reality in Paris or London is that people with low income have to live in the further-out districts of the city.
— reiner wild, managing director of the berlin tenants’ association
Estimates indicate that based on a one-bedroom property of seventy square metres, the lowest rental area in Berlin has an average rent of around £250 per month whilst the highest area’s average would remain under £800.
With up to 50,000 new residents moving to the city every year, and though exceptions have been made for new-builds and largescale property renovations, it is still hoped that lower income Berliners would less likely be pushed to the outskirts of the city because of high housing costs.
In recent years, to curb gentrification the city has passed laws limiting holiday rentals and the conversion of existing properties into luxury apartment blocks in central districts.
Berlin has long experimented with innovative methods of residential co-housing, promoting collaborative and cooperative ways of living – from collectively-funded co-ops (“baugruppen”) that hire construction workers and architects to custom-build their homes, to shared intergenerational living schemes encouraging the idea that young and old can mutually support one another by cohabiting together.