Class struggle from above
No signal effect for Berlin?
After the verdict of the Bavarian Constitutional Court in the interests of the capital side, everyone is wondering whether the Berlin rent cover is legally valid. comment
“Whoever fights can win,” headlined the Berlin Left in January 2020, when the rent cover in the State became law. The idea did not come from the Left Party at all, but from social democratic lawyer Peter Weberwho was looking for a reform-oriented rental policy without expropriation.
He wrote an article in a lawyer newspaper, arguing that the federal states certainly have their own leeway in terms of rent policy and do not always have to refer to the federal government. An article in the socialist daily New Germany was the beginning of a debate that culminated in the adoption of the Berlin rent cover, which has an advantage despite much criticism.
After many years, it is once again a reform that does not mean that wage earners have to tighten their belts. Rather, it is a reform that improves their lives in some ways because law requires rents to be frozen and even lowered. There are enough exceptions.
But the direction is clear and one does not have to be a reformist to criticize the limited nature of the measure on the one hand and to defend the reform on the other hand against the attacks of the real estate industry and the ideological state apparatus acting in their interests.
The capital side, which has been used for years to implement reforms only in their own interests, staged a class struggle from above even before the rent cap was passed. In Berlin she saw a new socialism rise through the rent cover. But it wasn’t just a loud lament.
Some judges refused to recognize the rental cover because, in their opinion, it was a violation of fundamental rights anyway. Because a reform that does not burden the low-income people but sucks a small part of the profits of the real estate industry cannot be right for these judges.
Parts of the real estate industry showed with the creation of so-called Shadow leasesthat they are willing to ignore laws if they are not in their interests. These shadow leases contain a rent that would have to be paid if the rent cover did not exist. It is therefore not required for the time being. However, if the judiciary declares the rent cover to be contrary to fundamental rights, the landlords could then claim the right to the lost rent later.
Of course, this is extremely questionable from a legal point of view. After all, the rent cover is valid as long as it is not legally overridden and during this time the rent should also be based on this rent cover. Of course, the shadow rental contracts also create uncertainty among tenants and that is also the purpose of the exercise. Some tenants who are happy to have found an apartment in Berlin will then inevitably accept the landlord’s demands.
This shows the structural violence of the capitalist system, which is rarely discussed publicly. The landlord and tenant are not contractual partners who negotiate from the same position. One side is in dire need of an apartment, the other side can dictate the conditions and immediately shouts that it is socialism if that makes things difficult.
The judiciary has not yet decided on the Berlin rent cap, but the capital side has been on the upswing since last week because the Bavarian Constitutional Court is one of them Initiative rent stop planned referendum declared illegal.
The central sentence of the decision was:
The draft law on which the referendum is based is obviously incompatible with federal law, since the state legislature lacks legislative competence under Article 72.1 of the Basic Law. Existing federal law standards block the possibility of state law regulations.
Although the judges in Bavaria dispute the country’s competences in tenancy law, which Peter Weber, the inventor of the rent cover, wants to have discovered, the politicians of the Berlin Senate are practicing optimism. You rightly emphasize that the decision from Munich does not mean the end of the Berlin rental cover.
The capital parties CDU, FDP and AfD of course see it differently and intensify their attacks on the rent cover. The defenders rely on the third point of the Bavarian judgment. There it says:
The draft law of the referendum cannot be based on the responsibility of the federal states for housing in accordance with Art. 70 GG, because there is no overall public law concept. As a result, the rental price regulations in the draft represent nothing other than a tightening of the applicable provisions on the rental price brake and the cap limit.
Politicians from the Left and the Greens now want to show that the Senate they support, unlike the Munich People’s Initiative, is working on such an overall concept. The lawyer and left-wing politician Halina Wawzynikak has some on her blog Written down reflections on the future of the rental cover.
She also receives the two special votes. She argues that due to its integration into an overall rental policy concept, the Berlin rental cover could even exist according to the criteria of the Bavarian Constitutional Court. In a few months it will become clear whether she is right.
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