If Berlin’s governing mayor has her way, no one in Berlin should pay more than 30 percent of their net household income for rent. However, the idea does not necessarily meet with approval.

The proposal by Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey and building senator Andreas Geisel (both SPD) to link rent to income has met with widespread criticism in the Bundestag. This was the result of a survey by “Welt” (Monday) in the parliamentary groups.

The housing policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, Bernhard Daldrup, told the newspaper that it was right to put the limit on rent to 30 percent of disposable income on the agenda. However, it appears to be a “challenge” to introduce a legally verifiable 30 percent limit.

“Mayor Giffey’s proposal just creates a bureaucracy monster and leaves many questions unanswered,” the newspaper quoted Daniel Föst, spokesman for construction and housing policy for the FDP parliamentary group. “Every time the salary goes up, does the rent go up too? If you have a better job, do you report it to the rental price inspection agency? The proposal is not thought through to the end, nor will it solve Berlin’s housing cost problem.”

Just a «diversionary tactic»?

The housing policy spokesman for the Union faction, Berlin MP Jan-Marco Luczak (CDU), considers the idea to be a “politically manageable diversionary maneuver”. “This should take pressure off the expropriation debate, which threatens to split the coalition.” A binding upper rent limit and rent inspection agency is “the first step towards a fully regulated and officially monitored rental market,” said Luczak. This would be legally questionable and actually counterproductive. Because tenants would have to give their landlord or the rent control agency a constant account of their current monthly income.

Even the left-wing faction in the Bundestag considers the move to be counterproductive. “Meanwhile, around half of the tenants spend more than 30 percent of their salary on rent, so something urgently needs to change,” said housing policy spokeswoman Caren Lay of the “Welt. “However, Ms. Giffey’s proposal would mean that in future landlords would mainly want to rent to people with high incomes and that poor households would hardly be able to find an apartment.”

Search for a “fair solution”

Giffey explained the idea in an interview with the “Tagesspiegel” over the weekend. “Imagine that nobody in Berlin has to pay more than 30 percent of their net household income for rent. That would be fair and an understandable solution for everyone,” she said. “Because what an affordable rent is, differs – depending on whether a saleswoman, a dentist or the governing mayor rents an apartment. If the 30 percent is the maximum for everyone, that would be a very fair solution.”

Everyone can then check: “Is my rent higher than 30 percent of my income?”, says Giffey. “If so, there must be a regulated procedure, for example a public rental price inspection agency, which determines the amount of the excess and supports tenants in taking action against it. Or who turns to the partners in the housing alliance and works towards taking countermeasures.”

Geisel had told the dpa: “We also want to propose this regulation, which we have made for our municipal housing associations, to the private sector.” The idea is currently being discussed as part of the desired broad alliance for new construction and affordable housing. “But that’s not ready for signature yet, we’re struggling for it.”

Culture Senator Klaus Lederer (left) considers the idea to be “unrealistic”. A procedure for checking tens of thousands of leases is not practicable, he told the “Tagesspiegel” (Monday). “At best, this is a suitable solution for cases of hardship.”