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Renters shouldn't be evicted during energy crisis, German housing experts say

Renters shouldn't be evicted during energy crisis, German housing experts say

The Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (GdW) has suggested that the German government should rule out evictions for tenants struggling to pay utility bills.

Renters in Germany face uncertainty amid energy crisis

A particularly high proportion of the German population rent, rather than own, their homes; just over half of the country's 83 million inhabitants are renters. Of these tenants, around 13 million live in housing let by the GdW, who on Tuesday said that their company would no longer terminate rental contracts due to late utility bill payments. 

GdW President Axel Gedaschko announced the change as a response to the energy crisis and told Funke Mediengruppe newspapers that tenants would instead be able to pay back costs over time, using an individual payment plan agreed between the tenant and the landlord.

According to SPIEGEL, one in eight tenants in Germany were already overwhelmed by housing and utility costs in 2021. Due to the further burden of the energy crisis, Gedaschko has called on the German government to extend a similar payment plan policy to all German renters. The GdW suggestions have so far been rejected, with Greens Economics Minister Robert Habeck and the liberal Free Democratic Party claiming that already established government energy crisis relief policies will suffice.

How does the German rental market look at the moment?

For the German Tenants' Association (Deutscher Mieterbund), neither of these steps go far enough to tackle the rental crisis that has developed in many German cities over recent years. Now, the association is calling for an eviction moratorium. “What we really need is a moratorium on terminations, like what we saw implemented at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic,” President Lukas Siebenkotten told Funke Mediengruppe.

For tenants with inflation-sensitive rental contracts, prices have gone up as much as 8 percent annually. The German Tenants' Association has also called for the government to introduce a freeze on these types of contracts, with Social Democratic and Green Party members demanding limitations on how much landlords can increase rents.

Olivia Logan

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Olivia Logan

Originally from Scotland, Olivia is an editor and journalist living in Berlin.

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