Housing in Germany: Here’s where rent prices are going up (and down)

Rents are still heading upwards in many German cities – but there's a notable exception.

Housing in Germany: Here’s where rent prices are going up (and down)
In Berlin rents have gone down. Photo: DPA

The coronavirus crisis is causing major economic problems, and resulting in a loss of wages for many people. Yet rents are continuing to go up for new tenants in many German cities, according to a study by real estate firm Immowelt.

However, there's been a decline in the capital Berlin.

According to the analysis, rents are increasing in 57 of 81 German cities with more than 100,000 residents.

The company compared the current market rents of apartments (40 to 120 square metres, built in 2016 or older) in the last four months of 2019 with the first four months of 2020.

Here's what they found:

  • From the end of 2019 to the beginning of 2020 rents rose by up to 12 percent –  a total of 57 German cities had rising prices
  • Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Munich are large cities with rising rents
  • The exception is Berlin where market rents have fallen – likely due to the rent freeze
  • Some smaller cities had the largest increases

READ ALSO: Why rents in Germany will continue to rise in 2020

Housing is getting more expensive

It's not just smaller cities with low rents which have so far been affected by the increases, the study reports. Even in the most expensive large cities and metropolitan areas, housing is becoming ever-more pricier. 

Munich shows an increase of four percent. The median rent for new apartments on the market in the Bavarian capital now costs €17.30 per square meter – more than in any other major city. 

Even the high-priced financial metropolis of Frankfurt is well behind with €13.60. Rents there have, however, risen by five percent in recent months. Similar increases were also recorded in Hamburg (+4 percent) and Düsseldorf (+5 percent).

Stuttgart, another notoriously high-priced city for renting in Germany, has seen a rise of three percent, from €12.40 per square meters to €12.80.

“The demand and supply for rental apartments gape widely apart in most major German cities, said Professor Dr Cai-Nicolas Ziegler, CEO of Immowelt AG. “Even the corona crisis has not changed this.

“The number of enquiries is already back to the level it was at before the crisis. Residential construction, on the other hand, has come to a partial halt. In tight markets, we therefore continue to expect rents to rise slightly.”

READ ALSO: Rising rent prices in Germany: What are the affordable options for families?

Why Berlin is the exception

One of the few cities with falling rents is Berlin. From on average €10.70 per square metre at the end of 2019 to the current €10.20, market rents have fallen by five percent. 

The rent freeze, which has been in force since the end of February, has played a major role in the decline.

READ ALSO: Berlin passes five year rent freeze law

It means rents for existing properties (built before 2014) are frozen for five years. At the same time, rent caps apply, the amount of which depends on the year of construction, location and equipment. The benchmark for this is the price level of the current Berlin rent index.

READ ALSO: Nearly 1,800 people turn up for single flat viewing in Berlin

Other cities where the rent has reportedly gone down are Ingolstadt (–2 percent) from €11.30 per square metre to €11.10 and Wiesbaden and Münster (both –3 percent).

In 70 percent of the cities surveyed, however, the price curve continues to point upwards.

The largest increases are recorded by the smaller cities. Reutlingen leads the way with a 12 percent increase between the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, while Mainz (+10 percent) also shows double-digit growth.

In both cities, an apartment rents at more than €10 on average. Although this limit has not yet been topped in Moers (+9 percent) and Wolfsburg (+7 percent), new tenants there must also be prepared for higher prices.

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Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the ‘die’ and carnival lingo

From the push to reform long-term unemployment benefits to the lingo you need to know as Carnival season kicks off, we look at the highlights of life in Germany.

Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the 'die' and carnival lingo

Deadlock looms as debates over Bürgergeld heat up 

Following a vote in the Bundestag on Thursday, the government’s planned reforms to long-term unemployment benefits are one step closer to becoming reality. Replacing the controversial Hartz IV system, Bürgergeld (or Citizens’ Allowance) is intended to be a fair bit easier on claimants.

Not only will the monthly payment be raised from €449 to €502, but jobseekers will also be given a grace period of two years before checks are carried out on the size of their apartment or savings of up to €60,000. The system will also move away from sanctions with a so-called “trust period” of six months, during which benefits won’t be docked at all – except in very extreme circumstances. 

Speaking in parliament, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) said the spirit of the new system was “solidarity, trust and encouragement” and praised the fact that Bürgergeld would help people get back into the job market with funding for training and education. But not everyone is happy about the changes. In particular, politicians from the opposition CDU/CSU parties have responded with outrage at the move away from sanctions.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz has even branded the system a step towards “unconditional Basic Income” and argued that nobody will be incentivised to return to work. 

The CDU and CSU are now threatening to block the Bürgergeld legislation when it’s put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Monday. With the conservatives controlling most of the federal states – and thus most of the seats in the upper house – things could get interesting. Be sure to keep an eye out for our coverage in the coming weeks to see how the saga unfolds. 

Tweet of the week

When you first start learning German, picking the right article to use can truly be a roll of the “die” – so we’re entirely on board with this slightly unconventional way to decide whether you’re in a “der”, “die”, or “das” situation. (Warning: this may not improve your German.) 

Where is this?

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Residents of Frankfurt am Main and the surrounding area will no doubt recognise this as the charming town of Kronberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Taunus mountains.

This atmospheric scene was snapped on Friday morning, when a drop in temperatures saw Kronberg and surrounding forests shrouded in autumnal fog.

After a decidedly warm start to November, the mercury is expected to drop into single digits over the weekend. 

Did you know?

November 11th marked the start of carnival season in Germany. But did you know that there’s a whole set of lingo to go along with the tradition? And it all depends on where you are. First of all, the celebration isn’t called the same thing everywhere. In the Rhineland, it’s usually called Karneval, while people in Bavaria or Saxony tend to call it Fasching. Those in Hesse and Saarland usually call it Fastnacht. 

And depending on where you are, there are different things to shout. The ‘fools call’ you’ll hear in Cologne is “Alaaf!” If you move away from Cologne, you’ll hear “Helau!” This is the traditional cry in the carnival strongholds of Düsseldorf and Mainz, as well as in some other German cities.

In the Swabian-Alemannic language region in the southwest of the country, people yell “Narri-Narro”, which means “I’m a fool, you’re a fool”. In Saarland at the French border, they shout “Alleh hopp!”, which is said to originate from the French language. 

Lastly, if someone offers you a Fastnachtskrapfe, say yes because it’s a jelly-filled carnival donut. And if you’re offered a Bützchen? It’s your call, but know that it’s a little kiss given to strangers!