New Law Freezes Rent in Berlin

Category: Top Stories

Listening

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. put a cap on (something) / pʊt eɪ kæp ɒn / (idiom) – to place a limit on what can be spent or charged for something
    Example:

    Citizens want the government to put a cap on oil price because they can no longer afford the rising prices of gasoline.


  2. sue / su / (v) – to take legal action against someone or something
    Example:

    Elliot sued the company because of the unsafe working conditions he was forced to work in.


  3. landlord / ˈlændˌlɔrd / (n) – the owner of an apartment or a residential property
    Example:

    Robert was looking for the landlord because he wanted to rent one of the apartments.


  4. demolish / dɪˈmɒl ɪʃ / (v) – to intentionally destroy something
    Example:

    The city government demolished the old building to start the construction of a new one.


  5. suburb / ˈsʌb ɜrb / (n) – a residential area right outside a huge city
    Example:

    We lived in a suburb until we had to move to the city for our jobs.


Article

Read the text below.

Berlin’s state senate passed a new law that will put a cap on rent in the city.


The new law was the result of talks between Berlin’s major political parties. It will affect around 1.5 million apartments in the city built before 2014. However, the law still needs approval from the state parliament. Once it secures approval, it will take effect at the start of 2020 and will be effective for five years.


Under the new law, rent will be capped with the upper limit of €9.80 (around $11) per square meter, which is a substantial decrease from the current average rent of €11.60 (around $13) per square meter. The law will also allow tenants to sue landlords who raise their rent above the limit.


Rent in the city was cheap in the late 1980s when the wall that once separated West Germany and East Germany was demolished. However, since the 1990s, many people have moved into the city, causing rent to go up. Eventually, the soaring rent drove many residents away and forced them to move to the suburbs.


Reactions to the law have been mixed. One real estate analyst said that the public will support drastic measures that will make housing affordable. Some residents in Munich are even pushing for a similar law in their own city.


In contrast, the law was criticized by the real estate industry and some politicians. According to experts, the new law might result in landlords neglecting their properties. The mayor of Hamburg also said that this law could even discourage investors from buying new homes.


Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think that freezing rent is the best solution to the housing problem in Berlin? Why or why not?

• Now that the landlords are required to freeze rent, should the government enforce laws to support them? Explain.


Discussion B

• Which do you think is more practical: renting or owning a house? Discuss.

• If you were to rent or own a house, what factors would you consider (e.g. cost of property, distance from school/work)? Explain.