English FAQ

Eine deutsche Version des FAQ finden Sie im Menü unter „Infos“.

If you are leasing a flat from one of the state-owned housing companies (landeseigene Wohnungsunternehmen, LWU). These include

  • degewo AG
  • GESOBAU AG
  • Gewobag Wohnungsbau-AG
  • HOWOGE Wohnungsbaugesellschaft mbH
  • STADT UND LAND Wohnbauten-Gesellschaft mbH
  • WBM Wohnungsbaugesellschaft Berlin-Mitte mbH

and if your issues concern the specific regulations between the state-owned housing companies and the State of Berlin. The most important ones are the Kooperationsvereinbarung (KoopV, Cooperation Agreement) and the Wohnraumversorgungsgesetz Berlin (WoVG Bln, Housing Supply Act Berlin).

Possible topics include:

  • the Affordability Promise
  • rent increases as related to the KoopV
  • flat exchange

If you have questions about the Cooperation Agreement or Housing Supply Act, or you need advice and support with your rental relationship regarding these regulations, you can turn to the Ombuds Services office.

Limited to flats classified as “Classic Housing”, the Cooperation Agreement LWU also applies to the housing company berlinovo Immobiliengesellschaft mbH. If you are leasing one of these flats, you can turn to the Ombuds Services as well.

The Ombuds Services do not handle:

  • advice on flats that do not belong to one of the state-owned housing companies
  • for berlinovo: all segments except for Classic Housing (in particular senior residences, employee housing, student housing and commercial rental of residential space)
  • general advice on lease regulations under the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB), for example:
    • defects, rent reduction due to defects
    • operating and heating cost statements
    • subletting
    • change in main tenant
    • aesthetic repairs (“schönheitsreparaturen”)
    • security deposit
    • termination for reasons other than default of payment
    • compliance with house rules and neighbourhood disputes

If you need advice on these issues, please contact the free tenant support centre in your district. You’ll find more information about the support centres here. Or you can contact your housing company directly.

The state-owned housing companies are six companies who are owned and managed by the State of Berlin. These are degewo AG, GESOBAU AG, Gewobag Wohnungsbau-AG, HOWOGE Wohnungsbaugesellschaft mbH, STADT UND LAND Wohnbauten-Gesellschaft mbH, WBM Wohnungsbaugesellschaft Berlin-Mitte mbH and their subsidiaries. Under the Cooperation Agreement LWU, the “Classic Housing” flats owned by berlinovo Immobilien Gesellschaft mbH are also treated like the flats of the state-owned housing companies. Together they own about 360,000 flats. In recent years, they have taken on the challenging task of keeping existing rents affordable and creating additional housing at the same time. More information is available at this website.

The “Gesetz über die Neuausrichtung der sozialen Wohnraumversorgung in Berlin“, which means “Law on the re-orientation of the public housing supply in Berlin (for short: Berliner Wohnraumversorgungsgesetz | WoVG Bln) took effect in 2015 and has since been amended or revised several times. It contains tenant-friendly regulations beyond the tenant laws of the BGB that apply only to housing owned by the state-owned housing companies (LWU). The Housing Supply Act Berlin does not apply to flats owned by berlinovo. 

It encompasses, for example, regulations for limiting rent increases, modernisation, construction of public housing, housing allocation and terminations or options for exchanging flats. The law also regulates possibilities to participate in tenant organisations.

The WoVG Bln also defines the establishment of a public housing office called Wohnraumversorgung as an institution under public law. The task of Wohnraumversorgung Berlin (WVB) is to develop, analyse and maintain political guidelines regarding the responsibility of state-owned housing companies to manage the housing supply and housing market. The office advises the state-owned housing companies and generates suggestions and proposals for the Senate. The WVB advises the tenant organisations of the state-owned housing companies and supports, guides and evaluates the practice of tenant participation in the LWU. The Ombuds Services office takes cases at the instruction of the WVB https://stadtentwicklung.berlin.de/wohnen/wohnraumversorgung/.

The full legal text is available here.

The Cooperation Agreement was established between the State of Berlin and the state-owned housing companies. It supplements and substantiates the Housing Supply Act. The current Cooperation Agreement has been in effect since 01/01/2024 for the six state-owned housing companies and for the “Classic Housing” flats owned by berlinovo.

The KoopV contains, among other things, the following agreements:

  • Rent increases:
    • For rent increases according to § 558 BGB, the state-owned housing companies ensure that the total rents for existing leases do not increase by more than 2.9% annually and, in cases when an owner intends to increase rents (Mieterhöhungsverlangen), explicitly refer to the Affordability Promise.
    • The following applies to affected leases: In flats with up to 65 m² floor space, the maximum increase of the monthly rent is 50 euros, up to 100 m² it is a maximum of 75 euros and up to 125 m² a maximum of 100 euros.
  • The Affordability Promise:
    • Upon application, and with appropriate proof provided by the tenant, the rent must be reduced to 27% of the net household income, provided that the income thresholds applicable for a WBS (Wohnberechtigungsschein, a certificate of eligibility for public housing) and the space limits defined in Article 2 § 3(4) WoVG Bln are not exceeded. If the space limits are exceeded, the rent is reduced proportionately.
  • Modernisation
    • The allocation of modernisation costs to the rent payment as defined in § 559 must not exceed a maximum of 2 euros per m² per month within a period of six years.

… as well as other agreements on reletting, flat exchange and opportunities for participation.

The full legal text is available here.

A rent increase as defined in § 558 BGB is an adjustment “up to the reference rent customary in the locality”. That means, the rent can be increased to the reference rent customary in the locality listed in the Berliner Mietspiegel (rent index for Berlin). To find the reference rent that applies to your flat, you can use the Mietspiegelabfrage (rent index query tool) provided by the Berlin Senate.

If you have questions on rent increases, you can also contact the tenant counseling office in your district by using this link.

By law, you have until the end of the second month after being notified of a rent increase to agree to the rent increase. (Example: If you receive the notification of rent increase during January, you have until 31 March to review it and agree to it.

Important: In flats with up to 65 m² floor space, the maximum increase of the monthly rent is 50 euros, up to 100 m² it is a maximum of 75 euros and up to 125 m² a maximum of 100 euros.

If the rent increase raises your net base rent to more than 27% of your net household income, you can file a request for rent reduction based on the Affordability Promise with your state-owned housing company. The state-owned housing companies include information about the Affordability Promise in their notifications of rent increases. If you have entitlements based on the Affordability Promise, it does not have any negative effects for you if you have previously agreed to the rent increase.

For questions about the Affordability Promise, you can contact the Ombuds Services office.

The maximum limit for rent increases defined in § 558 BGB is 15% in three years. The state-owned housing companies are part of the “Bündnis für Wohnungsneubau und bezahlbares Wohnen” (Alliance for new housing construction and affordable housing). The alliance has made a voluntary commitment to limit rent increases to a maximum of 11% in three years. Some private housing companies and housing associations are also part of the alliance. The housing company berlinovo also limits rent increases to a maximum of 11% in three years.

The Cooperation Agreement states that the sum of rents for the existing rental contracts of a state-owned housing company must not increase by more than 2.9% per year. That means, all the rents for flats of a company added together must not be increased by more than 2.9% per year. This is why rent increases for individual households can be up to 11% in three years.

The Affordability Promise (Leistbarkeitsversprechen) is part of the Cooperation Agreement (KoopV) between the State of Berlin and the state-owned housing companies.

Upon request by the tenant, the net base rent must be reduced to 27% of the annual net household income, provided that the income thresholds applicable for a WBS (Wohnberechtigungsschein, a certificate of eligibility for public housing) and the space limits defined in Article 2 § 3(4) WoVG Bln are not exceeded. If the space limits are exceeded, the rent is reduced proportionately. The Affordability Promise can reduce the net base rent, but it does not affect the advance payments for operating and heating costs.

What income can be included in the net household income is defined in §§ 20 to 24 of the Housing Support Act (Wohnraumförderungsgesetz). You can calculate your net household income with the WBS calculator provided by the State of Berlin.

To determine possible entitlement under the Affordability Promise, the annual net income is calculated, i.e. different income amounts or one-time bonus payments for holidays or Christmas, etc. are taken into account.

Before a tenant can claim a reduction based on the Affordability Promise, it must be clarified whether they have any other possible entitlements to rent subsidies or other benefits to lower the rent burden. If so, these may be included in the calculation of the income thresholds. Tenants can request these benefits only from the responsible authorities.

If the size of your flat exceeds the space limit defined in § 3(4) WoVG, the net base rent is reduced proportionately. The following space limits apply:

45 m² for a one-person household
60 m² for a two-person household
75 m² for a three-person household
85 m² for a four-person household
an additional 12 m² for every further person living in the household.

That means, for example, that the net base rent for a one-person household is reduced to 27% of the annual net income for only 45 m2 of the flat. For every square meter of living space above that limit, the tenants must pay the previously applicable rent price.

Example calculation:
A single person lives alone in a 55 m² flat and pays 9.71 euros/m², which comes to 534.05 euros net base rent. The net household income is 1,500 euros. That means the household is paying 35.6% of the net household income for rent. Based on the Affordability Promise, the rent can be reduced to 27% of the net household income, which is 405 euros plus advance payments for operating and heating costs.

However, in this case the space limit is exceeded. For 45 m² of the flat, the net base rent is reduced to 405 euros, the remaining 10 m² stay at the original price of 9.71 euros/m², amounting to 97.10 euros. In this example, the net base rent can be reduced by 31.95 euros to a total of 502,10 euros.

Under special circumstances, it may be permitted to exceed the listed space limit by up to 20%.

If you have received a rent increase notification from your state-owned housing company, information on the Affordability Promise should be enclosed with the letter. It includes an explanation of the Affordability Promise and contact information. In most cases, you can write an e-mail or letter to your state-owned housing company with the subject: “Antrag auf Absenkung der Miete aufgrund des Leistbarkeitsversprechens” (Application for rent reduction under the Affordability Promise).

Please note that you must send the housing company verifiable documents which show that you are eligible under the Affordability Promise. These documents must contain in particular your annual net income and the number of household members living in the flat. 

A sample letter is available here:

 Subject: [Tenant number], Reduction of rent under the Affordability Promise

Dear Sir or Madam,

I hereby request the reduction of my net base rent / the rent increase under the Affordability Promise. My annual net household income is [xx.xx] euros. Therefore, a monthly net base rent of [xx.xx] euros is the permissible limit for the amount of my net base rent under the Affordability Promise. Copies of the necessary documentation are included with this letter.  Please reduce my net base rent accordingly.

Please respond within 14 days.

Kind regards,

[First name, surname]

Please note: for communication with the state-owned housing companies, Letters must be written in German.

For rent increases after modernisation, the state-owned housing companies have committed to additional agreements apart from the legal regulations of § 559 BGB.

According to the Cooperation Agreement, a rent increase based on modernisation should be a maximum of 2 euros/m² per month within six years. If after this increase the net base rent comes to more than 27% of the annual net household income, the Affordability Promise applies here as well.

According to the Housing Supply Act (§ 2(5) WoVG Bln) the net base rent after modernisation should be limited to an amount that does not exceed the local index rent plus the savings in operating costs achieved by the modernisation. Furthermore, in this case the rent must not be more than 20% above the local index rent (unless the entire flat was completely modernised).

If you have questions about your modernisation notice, you can contact the free tenant support centre in your district. For questions about modernisation as they relate to the Affordability Promise or the requirements of the Cooperation Agreement, you can get advice from the Ombuds Services.

According to § 4 WoVG, extraordinary terminations without notice because of overdue rent payments should be avoided. If they cannot be avoided, the tenant must be offered alternative living space.

This section does not apply to berlinovo, including their “Classic Housing” flats. For terminations due to default of payment for berlinovo flats, please contact the responsible property manager at berlinovo. 

Enforcement measures should only be initiated if the tenant refuses to cooperate, has alternative living space at their disposal or refuses to accept proposed alternative living space within an adequate time period.

For tenants with rent arrears, the state-owned housing companies offer debt or social counselling. The contacts are listed below (Websites in German):

degewo AG https://www.degewo.de/wohnen-service/ratgeber/hilfe-bei-mietschulden
GESOBAU AG https://www.gesobau.de/mieterservice/unser-sozialmanagement/
Gewobag Wohnungsbau-AG https://www.gewobag.de/fuer-mieter-und-mietinteressenten/service/beratung/
HOWOGE Wohnungsbaugesellschaft mbH https://www.howoge.de/mieterservice/soziale-unterstuetzungsangebote/hilfe-bei-mietschulden.html
STADT UND LAND Wohnbauten-Gesellschaft mbH https://www.stadtundland.de/Wohnen/Sozial-und-Mietschuldnerberatung.php
WBM Wohnungsbaugesellschaft Berlin-Mitte mbH https://www.wbm.de/mieterservice/mietschuldenberatung/
Berlinovo Immobilien GmbH https://www.berlinovo.de/de/wohnungen/mieterservice-wir-sind-fuer-sie-da

As a tenant of a state-owned housing company, you can exchange flats with another tenant if your current flat no longer meets your expectations or needs. The net base rent per square metre remains the same for both exchange partners. There may be certain prerequisites for the lease that must be taken into account (e.g. WBS).

The selection is not limited to flats of your own housing company. You can search for suitable offers from other tenants of all six state-owned housing companies who are interested in an exchange.

The state-owned housing companies have established a joint exchange portal for this purpose. You can find the portal and all further information at this website.

If both exchange partners agree to a flat exchange and still there are obstacles to the exchange, you can contact the Ombuds Services.

When the Housing Supply Act took effect, all state-owned housing companies established tenant councils for participation at the company level. These councils bundle and categorise suggestions and criticism from tenants as well as the insights and experiences gathered by the tenant advisories. Apart from the tenant councils, the tenant advisories implement tenant participation at the neighbourhood level. They act as mediators between tenants and each state-owned housing company. The tenant advisories and the housing companies both have the goal of shaping and improving the housing situation and quality of life in the neighbourhoods with regard to social, cultural and neighbourhood issues and to get tenants actively involved in shaping their neighbourhoods.

The Housing Supply Act does not apply to berlinovo. The berlinovo company aims to establish tenant advisories in housing estates of 300 flats or more.

The institution Wohnraumversorgung Berlin, AöR, is responsible for issues and questions of the tenant organisation.