Berlin Freezes Rents for 5 Years in a Bid to Slow Gentrification

BERLIN — Rental prices on more than 1.5 million Berlin apartments will be frozen or lowered for five years as a result of new legislation aimed at halting a recent spike in rents that is driving out older and lower-income residents.

The measure, which lawmakers approved on Thursday and which is to take effect next month, is an attempt by Berlin’s leftist government to slow the gentrification of a city that built a reputation on a creative scene but is being squeezed by real estate investors and infrastructure projects.

“We have created an instrument that will stop the partially absurd price developments for the next five years,” Katrin Lompscher, Berlin’s senator for city development and living, said at a news conference on Friday. “It is up to politicians to create the basic conditions for lower- and middle-class earners to be able to afford to live in Berlin.”

Renting is more common in Germany than homeownership, with more than half of the country’s residents renting their homes. In Berlin, a city of three million people, only 18 percent of residents own their homes.

“Limiting and reducing the income from rents will create uncertainty for investors and will ward off real estate developers from investing,” Mr. Schick said.

“After a long phase of galloping prices, rents will now be stopped,” she said, “and that is sorely needed.”

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