This week, half of leftist expat Facebook melted in delight when they heard that the Merkel government was going to impose its long-awaited rent cap. I realise that the Mietbremse looks good if you’re from London or New York or Paris and you’re used to, I don’t know, having to cash in your granny’s health insurance to live in a recycling bin. And I suppose it’s quite nice that in a world where we accept that making money is a good enough reason to do anything at least one government has decided to stop and piss on the world-incinerating blaze of real estate capitalism.
But here’s what it means: landlords in Germany will only be allowed to raise rents 10 percent above the local average in certain areas when someone new moves in. Theoretically. Landlords of new buildings and new renovations of old buildings can still charge whatever they like. Also, Berlin already had a similar cap, and you may have noticed that rents aren’t exactly stabilizing here.
Another loophole – deliberately left – is that state governments are still allowed to decide for themselves whether to impose the law or not (and if so, in what areas) and seeing as half the states in Germany are controlled by the CDU… well, you know. All that this diluted rent cap (another diluted socialist idea from the SPD which the CDU watered down even more) is going to do is encourage property developers to invest even more money in expensive new buildings that they will expect – and be allowed to harvest – massive profits from.
Rents are still going to go up and working class people and then lower middle class people and eventually middle middle class people and then any people who aren’t members of Soho House are going to be driven out of Germany’s city centres and any other half-decent places to live and Berlin is going to become even more of a soul-free theme park for the rich, full of beer-bikes surrounded by ghettos and no one, especially not Angela Merkel, will give even slightly a shit. She’ll be dancing around among the beer bikes.
So let’s not start get over-dreamy about the Mietbremse. It’s a sop. A red herring for reds. It’s less than the least a civilised society should have.