The real estate election campaign

Rising rents and purchase prices for real estate have made the housing market policy to a central campaign issue in the federal election of 2013.

Parties and campaigners have recognized the immense potential of real estate prices, rent increases, housing policy and brokerage fees as promising election campaign themes. The regulation of the housing market is already in full swing. In December 2012 the German parliament decided to cap the rent increase in Germany to 15 percent within three years. In Berlin some district administrations already practice a misappropriation ban on rental housing that are being used as holiday flats or offices. Since almost all candidates took up the issue in their election campaign, the challenge for the campaigners is now to differentiate themselves from their political opponents. The rent subject, formerly predominantly located in the left spectrum, has now slipped right into the middle of society and bourgeois parties. Some of the claims and regulations would, if implemented, have a significant impact on property owners. We had a closer look for you at the election programs of CDU (conservative party), SPD (social democrats), Bündnis90/Grüne (green party), FDP (liberals) and the LINKE (left wing). The CDU wants a stronger control of rent increases. Under the motto "More affordable housing" the election program lists the issues related to the rental and housing market.

The party advertises a so called rent brake that we already know from the programs of SPD and Bündnis90/Grüne. Specifically, the CDU wants to grant to the States the opportunity to restrict in areas with tight housing markets rent increases to ten percent above the local comparative rent when a property is re-rented. First-time rentals in new buildings are excluded from the rent brake. In addition, owner-occupied property will be promoted, if the program is realized. In order to stimulate the housing market, the conservatives propose to re-introduce the declining balance depreciation for rental housing. For services provided by realtors the CDU wants a clear, uniform and federal regulation. The rent a brake is also advertised by the SPD (social democrats). The rent increase for re-renting should be capped at 10% above the local rent. Again, the initial leasing of new buildings should be excluded from the scheme. The SPD wants to distribute the cost for energy renovations in a fairer way. New housing should be promoted stronger, municipal and cooperative housing associations should be strengthened. The brokerage fees should be regulated, according to the rule “who ordered, paid”.

Bündnis 90/Grüne (green party) dreams of an affordable and green housing. Accordingly, the electoral program of the Green sees the social tenancy, welfare-oriented housing and energy modernization of buildings in a bigger context. In the same way as CDU and SPD the Greens want to regulate rents. Re-renting will be capped at 10 percent rent increase. Rent increases due to modernization measures should be capped at a maximum of 9% of the cost per year.

The Greens call for the brokerage fees to be paid by the landlord. The FDP wants to support the construction of more affordable rental housing in Germany. In order to improve the conditions in rental housing, the declining balance depreciation should be reintroduced. The regulation of rents is rejects by the FDP. Government intervention in the housing market will be rejected by the FDP. The LINKE (left wing) wants to stop the conversion of rental apartments into condominiums and the misappropriation of rental housing. The local authorities should be given the opportunity to ban this by official regulations. The rents will be capped, and the rent index should be based on the existing rents. Net rents in existing contracts should be increased only in the context of inflation compensation, up to the local comparative rent. The tax-free sale of apartments by individuals after a ten years holding period should be eliminated.

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