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Some 2,500 people marched in Berlin against high rents in the German capital, police said on Sunday.

The organizers, however, claimed that “at least 10,000” people attended.

The protest came after the German Constitutional Court overturned Berlin’s rent cap, leaving tenants in the city suddenly facing price hikes.

What happened during the demonstration?

The main rally, under the slogan “Stop the madness of the rent!” moved from Potsdamer Platz to the district of Schöneberg, starting an hour later than previously announced.

Protesters were seen carrying banners such as “Residing is a human right” and “No interest on rents”.

The march ended without any report of violence, according to the AFP news agency.

In addition, around 30 participants organized their own demonstration in sailboats on the river Spree in Berlin and unfurled the banners against rising rents.

The small protest flotilla crossed Berlin

What was the rent limit?

The rent cap was a measure implemented by the city-state government that came into effect at the end of February 2020.

It froze the prices of almost all apartments in Berlin for five years, locking them in at their June 2019 level. New leases were not allowed to exceed that rate – and some rents had to be cut.

The Berlin state government said the measure was intended to reduce pressure on tenants and buy time to build more homes.

The settlement also allowed tenants to sue their landlords to reduce rents.

The measure has been sharply criticized by conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) led by Chancellor Angela Merkel and the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), who have filed a complaint against it.

Why was he knocked down?

The Constitutional Court overturned the Berlin measure on April 15, ruling that the state government did not have the right to impose the cap.

Since the German federal government already implemented a law regulating rents across the country in 2015, the Berlin state government was unable to create its own regulation, the court said.

As a result of the decision, many tenants in Berlin are now facing steep rent increases – and could be asked by their landlords to repay the rent for the past year.

What is the situation of the rental market?

Rental prices in Berlin have skyrocketed in recent years, making it one of the tightest rental markets in the country.

From 2013 to 2019, rent prices in new contracts increased by 27%, according to the German Property Foundation (ZIA).

The lack of affordable housing, tenants excluded from their neighborhood and rising rents have led to tensions.

While you are here: Every Tuesday DW editors take a tour of what is going on in German politics and society, with the aim of understanding this year’s elections and beyond. You can sign up for the weekly Berlin Briefing email newsletter here, to stay abreast of developments as Germany enters the post-Merkel era.

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