Anyone who does not pay rent for two months can expect to receive notice of termination without notice. But this was not the case between April and June 2020; the regulation was temporarily suspended by a resolution of the Bundestag. People who have not been able to pay their rent or not in full due to the pandemic, for example due to sudden short-time working, should be protected against homelessness. How did this regulation work in practice?
For example in Celle in Lower Saxony. “Due to the pandemic, we had eight postponement requests. All of them have now paid us the remaining amounts,” explains Viktor Jäger, responsible for rental at Städtische Wohnungsbau GmbH (WBG). Every month, the WBG, the largest landlord in the city of Celle of 70,000 inhabitants with around 2,000 apartments, sends out about ten terminations, mainly due to rents not paid on time. “In most of these cases, however, there is no termination because the money is still being paid. Most of the time, the delay is due to the recipients of transfer payments not submitting not the requests on time and the offices then pay later, ”says Jäger.
There have been half a dozen evictions at the WBG in 2019 and 2020, so far this year the apartment has been evacuated four times by bailiff. “This mainly concerns cases in which the apartment was devastated or the tenants were too noisy”, explains Jäger and adds: “We are always looking for solutions to avoid an eviction, because we always bear the costs.”
Figures from the Celle District Court, which is responsible for the district of the same name, paint a slightly different picture. 95 deportation requests were lodged there last year. 80 to 90 percent of the reason is unpaid rent. 58 evictions were actually carried out, including 56 in apartments. District court director Dieter-Philipp Klaas expects similar figures for 2021.
Last year there were around 40,000 evictions nationwide
This serves as a concrete municipal example, as current figures at state or federal level are scarce. Hamburg is one of the exceptions. According to the Senate, the largest urban housing company, SAGA, has accepted installment payments or deferred rent with about 3,200 tenants affected by Corona since the start of the pandemic. In addition, the rent increases planned from April to June 2020 have been postponed, resulting in a loss of income of 270,000 euros. The number of evictions in the Hanseatic city rose from 1,239 in 2019 to 977 last year.
At Vonovia, Germany’s largest housing company with more than 350,000 apartments, 2% of tenants reported this year due to financial difficulties linked to the pandemic and requested a postponement of payments – around the same time the last year they were only half. “In the vast majority of cases, we were able to make direct agreements on deferral and installment payments,” said a spokesperson for Vonovia.
Across the country, around 50,000 people lost their homes after being evicted in 2019, according to left-wing parliamentary group housing policy spokeswoman Caren Lay. Your party demands better protection against dismissal – after settling a rent arrears, not only termination without notice, but also timely termination should become ineffective in the future. A request supported by the Federal Homeless Aid Association (BAG W).
“The pandemic has shown how quickly arrears can arise. “
“Evictions to the homeless are not allowed, especially not during a pandemic,” said Sabine Bösing, deputy director general of BAG W. According to her, Berlin was the only federal state in which evictions were suspended until at the end of June 2020 at the onset of the pandemic has become. It is estimated that there were around 40,000 evictions nationwide last year. “The pandemic has shown how quickly arrears can arise, as many households have to spend more than 30% of their income on rent. If an income is suddenly lost, there is a risk of losing an apartment, ”Bösing explains.
She fears that tenants will have to repay their rental debts from April to June 2020 at the end of June 2022 at the latest. “For many, this could mean the termination of the lease and thus lead to the loss of an apartment”, a feared Bösing. “It would have been a very important sign for those in need if these rental debts had been canceled with the help of an appropriate fund.” More than 150 scientists had also called for an exemption from rental debts and a state aid fund for landlords facing financial difficulties due to the loss of rent.
The German Tenants Association speaks of clear uncertainty among tenants in Corona 2020, which has led to an increase of 138,000 views across the country. In addition to rent reduction options and threats of layoff, other issues were also discussed. Can we barbecue on the balcony during the pandemic? What should you watch out for when using the apartment as a home office? Or again: should artisans be allowed to enter the apartment given the high incidence rates?