Rent increases in Berlin outpacing all other German cities

Despite the 42 per cent, five-year jump, another study says Berliners get to enjoy affordable rents for appropriately sized apartments. For now, anyway.

Hypezig. The only eastern German city with equally steep gains.
Hypezig. The only eastern German city with equally steep gains.imago

Berlin -  Over the past five years, rent has increased in Berlin faster than any other city in Germany, according to a report by online property site Immowelt, surprising no one in the country's capital. 

Rents for flats advertised on the portal jumped 42 percent over the past half-decade, or from an average €9 per sqm to €12.80. The site analysed rents on apartments between 40 and 120 square meters advertised between the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2021.

A rent cap had worked to freeze rents on all flats built before 2014 for five years, temporarily stunting Berlin rents. But the country's top court shot down the city-state's rental protection earlier this year and landlords have again begun boosting rents.

The analysis only looked at the advertised prices - the actual rents may have varied - and the portal only represents a portion of Berlin's housing market. Apartments with lower rents offered by cooperatives or municipal housing associations are often not included on commercial sites.

Dresden more expensive

The analysis shows that the cities with the highest rents also saw the strongest increases. The average rent in Munich leapt from €15.50 per sqm to €19.20, or 24 per cent, while Frankfurt am Main saw a 16 per cent increase. Rent in Stuttgart rose 27 per cent from 2016 to 2021.

Major cities in the former East Germany haven't seen such a drastic increase, with the exception of Leipzig. There rent rose 22 per cent over the past five years. Still, the city remains comparatively afforadable with rents currently averaging €7.20 per sqm. Sister Saxon city Dresden is more expensive - €7.90 per sqm - though rents didn't rise as stiffly over the past five years.

Earlier this week, the trade-union friendly Hans Böckler Foundation released a study showing that 1-in-8 households lack sufficient funds to live above the subsistence level after paying rent and utilities. The study looked at 77 major German cities.

Affordable, appropriate

Almost every second household (49.2 per cent), the study shows, already pays more than 30 per cent of its income for rent - the threshold for what is considered affordable rent. And a good quarter (25.9 percent) of households pay at least 40 percent of their income for rent and utilities.

German households now pay an average 29.8 per cent of their income for rent and utilities.

The study also showed that Berliners are faring well in affordability and appropriate-sized apartments. In the German capital, 49.2 per cent of households have affordable and appropriate flats. The figure is below 44 per cent in Munich and Cologne, for example.