Dispute over rent caps: spd politicians against cap

During the 2018 election campaign, Andrea Nahles called for a radical rent cap. Hamburg’s mayor no longer wants to hear about it.

Hamburg’s First Mayor Tschentscher does not want a rent freeze Photo: dpa

Leading Social Democrats are distancing themselves from the demand for a rent freeze, which the then party leader Andrea Nahles and the current interim leader Thorsten Schafer-Gumbel had proposed in September 2018. Hamburg’s First Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) said he rejected a rent cap like the one in Berlin. Instead, he was in favor of lowering the so-called cap.

In areas with a tight housing market, rents may currently be increased by a maximum of 15 percent within three years. "The cap should be lowered to ten percent in three years," Tschentscher told the dpa news agency.

Tschentscher is not only contradicting the legally controversial Berlin proposal for a statewide rent cap. The red-red-green Berlin Senate is breaking new ground with this proposal, because rent levels have so far been regulated by the federal government.

At the same time, Hamburg’s First Mayor is also positioning himself against the "Mietenwende jetzt" paper by Nahles and Schafer-Gumbel, who had proposed that rents "in areas with tight housing markets may only rise in line with inflation for 5 years." The inflation rate was 1.8 percent in 2018, and lower in previous years.

Nahles and Schafer-Gumbel had presented their proposals last year shortly before the state elections in Bavaria and Hesse. CDU member of the Bundestag Jan-Marco Luczak accused the SPD at the time of "a transparent maneuver for the election campaign ".

Divergent proposal from SPD MP Thousand

Last week, SPD member of parliament Claudia Tausend also presented a demand that deviates from Nahles’ and Schafer-Gumbel’s rent freeze. At the "Real Estate Industry Day" of the ZIA lobbying association, the deputy spokeswoman of the SPD parliamentary group’s urban development working group said her party had "put the issue of a rent freeze on the table." This means "in essence, a lowering of the cap to ten percent in five years". Even with that, however, the rent increase could still be higher than the current rate of inflation.

"Other proposals" for affordable housing are "nevertheless welcome".

Tausend told the taz that her current proposal "does not contradict" the "rent turnaround" paper by Nahles and Schafer-Gumbel. "This is to compensate for inflation." Asked why the inflation compensation would not be precisely calculated in her proposal, she said, "We’re talking about a legislative process now that doesn’t exist." If it came to that, experts would propose precise regulations in the hearings.

A spokesman for the SPD executive board told the taz that "the proposal by Andrea Nahles and Thorsten Schafer-Gumbel on the rent turnaround" had "lost nothing of its topicality." "Nevertheless welcome" are "other proposals that aim to create or maintain affordable housing."

Tschentscher had told dpa that a complete rent cap would undermine the willingness to invest in housing construction. In Berlin, the Senate wants to pass a law for the rent cap by October. It is still unclear whether it will provide for inflation compensation.

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