Bonn tenants could benefit from grand coalition plans

Bonn/Rhine-Sieg district. The Bonn Tenants’ Association and the Owners’ Association view the grand coalition’s plans differently. Landlords will in future be obliged to reveal previous rents.

26.02.2018

Looking at the monthly rent is not enjoyable for many in Bonn. Living in the city has been getting more and more expensive for years in sought-after suburbs such as Südstadt, the city centre and the old town. The law curbing rents passed and implemented by the federal government in 2015 was supposed to help, but has so far to a large extent lacked teeth in practice, according to many experts. Now it is to be improved.

The CDU/CSU and SPD have agreed to tighten the law in the event of a grand coalition. Bonn tenants should also benefit from this. While the Bonn/Rhine-Sieg/Ahr Tenants’ Association views the planned changes as a step forward, the owners’ association responsible for the city and Rhine-Sieg district, Haus & Grund, sees the rental price brake as a “unilateral harassment” of their clients, managing director Helmut Hergarten told the GA.

Average basic rent in Bonn above national average

The average basic rent in Bonn of 7.73 Euros per square metre according to the rent index, is above the average across Germany of 6.72 Euros. The grand coalition is planning the following to prevent high rent increases:

Obligation to provide information: the obligation of the landlord to automatically provide the rent previously paid on a change of tenant is an important point. According to the current law, the landlord may demand the usual local benchmark rent (the Bonn rent index provides information on this) plus ten per cent. There is an exception if the rent was already over the level usual for the area. Up to now, the tenant has had to accept the landlord’s word, if they even dared to ask about the previous rent.

There are as yet no detailed agreements on how such an obligation to provide information will look. “The cleanest solution would be a written preliminary contract in which the old rent is recorded in writing,” explains the Bonn SPD member of parliament, Ulrich Kelber. Then the tenant would have something in his hand. However, managing director Hergarten sees this an “unlawful interference with private contractual relations.”

Cap: there will be a new cap in the law. The rent will be allowed to increase by a maximum of three Euros per square metre within six years. Bernhard von Grünberg, head of the local tenants’ association, supports the measure: “I can only call on every tenant to assert their legal claims.”

Refurbishment levy: Hergarten cannot understand the planned change to the refurbishment levy. It is planned to reduce the levy for refurbishment costs from eleven to eight per cent. The reason is the current low price of loans. Hergarten finds that: “They want energy-efficient refurbishments. Why are they curbing landlords’ motivation?” In his view, new apartments in particular will help fulfil demand and prevent prices skyrocketing.

Rent index: Bonn has a qualified rent index. In contrast to a simple rent index, it carries more weight in legal proceedings but in general serves to prevent negotiations in advance. The grand coalition now wants to set minimum legal requirements for a qualified rent index to create legal certainty.

(Original text: Philipp Königs. Translation: kc)

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