On April 15 2021, Berlin's rent cap (Mietendeckel) was declared unconstitutional. This means the Mietendeckel was never valid. If your rent was reduced because of the Mietendeckel, it could go back up. If you saved money with the Mietendeckel, you might have to give it back.

In this guide, I explain what will happen, what you can do, and how you can still lower your rent. This guide will be updated when there is new information.

What was the Mietendeckel?

The Mietendeckel was a rent control law in Berlin. It set rent limits in each area, and it stopped all rent increases for 5 years. If a landlord charged too much rent, they could get a big fine.

It came in effect on January 30 2020, and the rent reductions started on November 23 20201, 2. Hundreds of thousands of people got their rent reduced. Some saved hundreds of euros per month.

The Mietendeckel is not the same as the Mietpreisbremse, another rent control law. The Mietpreisbremse is still there1. It will not go away.

What happened?

On April 15 2021, the constitutional court said that the Mietendeckel is unconstitutional1, 2. Berlin did not have the right to make this law, so it was never valid1, 2. Because of this, many people must pay back the money they saved with the Mietendeckel1.

On April 20 2021, Berlin said that it will help people who can't pay their landlords back1. The city will offer millions of euros in financial help, and dozens of new case workers.

What should I do?

1. Check your lease

If you signed a lease after June 19 2020, or if your rent was reduced because of the Mietendeckel, look for a Schattenmiete clause in your lease. This shows how much rent you must pay if the Mietendeckel is repealed.

  • If you signed a lease before June 19, 2019
    • ...and your rent was reduced by the Mietendeckel
      You might have to give the money back. It's complicated1. It depends on how your lease is phrased1. You should get legal help. In the meantime, talk with your landlord, and give the money back with reservations.
    • ...and your rent was not reduced
      You do not need to pay anything. Your rent will not go up. Nothing changes.
  • If you signed a lease after June 19, 2019
    • ...and your lease has a Schattenmiete clause
      You must give the money you saved back to your landlord1. Give the money back in the next 14 days (before April 30)1. Do not wait until your landlord asks for it1, 2, 3. After April, you must pay the higher rent.
    • ...and your lease does not have a Schattenmiete clause
      If your rent was reduced without any conditions, then you can keep the money1, 2, and your rent will not go up1. If you are not sure, talk to your landlord, and get legal help.

In some cases, Schattenmiete clauses are not valid1. Get your lease checked by a lawyer, tenant's union, or a tenant counsel. They can help you understand if you must pay your landlord back.

If you need help to read your lease, there are people who can help you.

2. Talk to your landlord

If you must give the money you saved back, talk to your landlord or Hausverwaltung first. Some want the money back now. Others let you pay it back in instalments (little by little)1. Others don't want the money back.

These housing companies don't want the money back1, 2:

  • Degewo
  • Gesobau
  • Gewobag
  • Howoge
  • Vonovia
  • Stadt und Land
  • Wohnungsbaugesellschaft Berlin-Mitte (WBM)

If you can't give the Mietendeckel money back now, you can negotiate with your landlord1. For example, you can ask to pay it back in instalments (Ratenzahlung)1. The Berlin Senate also offers an interest-free loan (Sicher-Wohnen-Hilfe) to help you pay your landlord back1.

3. Give the money back (with reservations)

By default, you must return the money now. That means maximum April 301. Do not wait until the landlord asks for it1, 2. If you talk with your landlord, they could give you more time to pay.

Make the payment with reservations1, 2, 3. When you transfer the money, include "ohne Anerkennung einer Rechtspflicht" in the payment description1. If you return the money without reservations, it means that you agree with the higher rent. It makes it harder to lower your rent again with the Mietpreisbremse1. You should also send a letter of reprimand (qualifizierte Rügeschreiben) to oppose the higher rent. These steps will help you later, if you lower your rent with the Mietpreisbremse.

If you receive housing benefits (SGB II, or SGB XII chapter 4), contact the Jobcenter or Sozialamt. If you must pay your landlord back, they will cover the costs1, 2, 3, 4. You must apply for it in April, not later1.

If you receive asylum seeker benefits, contact the Landesamt für Flüchtlingsangelegenheiten. If you must pay your landlord back, they will cover the costs1, 2.

If you have a low income, you can get an interest-free loan from the city (the Sicher-Wohnen-Hilfe). This helps you pay back your landlord now, but you must still pay the loan back1, 2. To get this loan, your household must earn less than the income limit1:

  • 1 person living alone: less than 33,600€ per year
  • 2 people living together: 50,400€ per year in total
  • 3 people living together: 61,880€ per year in total
  • 4 people living together: 73,360€ per year in total
  • 5 people living together: 84,840€ per year in total
  • 6 people living together: 96,320€ per year in total

4. Pay the new rent

If your rent goes up, you must pay the higher rent. You don't have a choice. Do not wait until your landlord tells you1.

The new rent does not let you end your lease. If you want to move somewhere else, you must still give a 3 month notice1.

If you receive housing benefits or asylum seeker benefits, your higher rent is still covered1, 2.

5. Get your rent reduced again

The Mietendeckel is gone, but the Mietpreisbremse still works1. It's an older rent control law. With the Mietpreisbremse, you can lower your rent for the months since April 2020, and for the future months.

The Mietpreisbremse does not cover all apartments, and it can take a long time to get a reduction, but you should still try. If you were covered by the Mietendeckel, there's a 70% chance that you are covered by the Mietpreisbremse. If your cold rent (Kaltmiete) is 10% over the Mietspiegel price, you can lower your rent.

Useful link: Mietpreisbremse calculator

There are many ways to get your rent reduced with the Mietpreisbremse:

  • Your tenants' association (Mieterverein) can check your lease, and tell you if you pay too much rent. They can also help you ask for a rent reduction. You must be a member to use this service. It costs around 10€ per month.
  • Conny (also called Wenigermiete) specialises in reducing your rent with the Mietpreisbremse. It's their main service. You only pay if they are successful. I wrote a review of this service.
  • A lawyer. Use my list of English-speaking lawyers. If you have legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung), you can get their advice for free. If you don't have legal insurance, this option can be very expensive, especially if you must go to court.

Questions and answers

Can I move out?

Yes. You can move somewhere else, but you must still give a 3 month notice1. Your lease does not end faster because of the Mietendeckel1.

Can my landlord kick me out?

If you don't pay what you owe, yes. The rules are the same as before: if you owe more than 2 month's rent, your landlord can kick you out without delay1.

This means that if you don't return the money you saved with the Mietendeckel, or you don't pay your new rent after April 2021, you could get in trouble.

If I moved, do I have to give money back?

Yes. If your rent was reduced with the Mietendeckel, and you moved somewhere else, you still need to return the money. It does not make a difference.

Where can I get help?

Where to find help ➞ Apartment questions