Berlin's government has moved to freeze rents inthe booming German capital for five years from 2020 in their latest bid to halt runaway gentrification.
Once described as 'poor, but sexy', Berlin has seenits housing costs double over the last decade asemployees lured by the strong job market move into the city.
The sharp rent hikes have led some residents to ponder radical solutions, including pushingfor the seizure of housing stock from powerful landlords.
Alarmed by the trend, Berlin's city government agreed Tuesday on the outlines of a draft lawthat would include a temporary freeze on rents for five years from 2020, with a bill now to be drafted.
For decades after German unification in 1990, the capital was a magnet for artists, musiciansand students drawn by housing far cheaper than in other major European cities - partly the legacy of its decades marooned inside East Germany asa mere satellite of the West's economy.
But around 40,000 people a year have moved to Berlin in the last decade, and rents have morethan doubled since 2008, according to a study by the online housing portal immowelt.de. A record influx of refugees in 2015 has not helped, experts say.
Some 85 percent of Berliners rent their homes rather than owning them. Proposals to helpthem had ranged from expropriating large property owners to speeding up affordable housing projects.
The cap means 'protection against rent increases for 1.5 million apartments,' tweeted the Berlingovernment's department for urban development and housing.
Under the plan, landlords who seek to raise rates because of renovation work will also have toseek official approval for any increases above 50 cents per square meter.
Only social housing and private property that has not been let out would be exempt.
The move is being closely watched across Germany, where a backlash is growing over fears thatresidents are being priced out of key cities.
In an indication that the Berlin example could snowball into something wider, the SPD, haspledged to champion such rent controls nationwide.
'We need a rent price cap for all of Germany,' said Thorsten Schaefer-Guembel, one of the threeinterim SPD leaders.
He argued that the measure would help 'win time to build, build and build'.
Merkel herself has voiced skepticism about such caps, warning that 'we must also provide anenvironment for people to want to build'.
'It must remain advantageous and attractive to invest in residential property.'
While the political climate in Berlin is turning against landlords, the influential property-owners association Haus und Grund has said it would not be cowed.
尽管德国的政治气候不利于业主，但颇具影响力的业主联合会Haus und Grund表示他们不会受胁迫。
In a clear call for pre-emptive action, the association had urged members to raise rents byMonday night (June 17).
Although there are still huge swathes of unbuilt land and new construction mushroomingacross the city, much of what is coming onto the market is out of reach for low-income locals.
The rates in Berlin are still below those in key capitals around the world.