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Offbeat Union blocks extension: Corona protection for tenants ends - wave of redundancies now threatens

18:55  29 june  2020
18:55  29 june  2020 Source:   tagesspiegel.de

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If you can't pay your rent, you can expect to be kicked out. This applies to apartments and commercial premises. A special corona regulation expires.

Angst vor dem Verlust: Bislang sind Mieter von Wohnungen und Gewerberäumen vor der Kündigung geschützt, wenn sie wegen Covid-19 ihre Miete nicht zahlen können. Die Regelung läuft jetzt aus. © Photo: imago / Peter Homann Fear of loss: Until now, tenants of apartments and commercial premises have been protected against termination if they cannot pay their rent due to Covid-19. The regulation now expires.

Residential and commercial tenants who cannot pay their rents due to the corona crisis can no longer build on the landlord's indulgence. An legal regulation , according to which the rent is deferred in such cases and may only be paid later, expires on Tuesday and will not be extended. Federal Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht (SPD) wanted to extend the protection of tenants until September, but was unable to prevail against the Union. The deferral of payments for private loans, electricity and gas bills also ends this Tuesday. If you don't pay, you can also expect to be given notice here.

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Lukas Siebenkotten, President of the German Tenants' Association, is horrified: "From Wednesday to return to normal mode and exposing tenants who suffer loss of income through no fault of their own is absolutely absurd." Prolonging the protection against dismissal costs nothing, but does protect residential and commercial tenants before losing their home and their economic livelihood, the tenant protector said on Monday. "People without financial reserves could be on the street in two months," warned Stefan Körzell, board member of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB). In view of the fact that several million employees are on short-time work and hundreds of thousands of self-employed have permanent income losses, the Federal Government is creating "social explosives for no reason".

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[You can find all important updates of the day for the corona virus in the free Tagesspiegel newsletter "Questions of the day". The most important news, reading recommendations and debates. Click here to register. ]

The rent is deferred, but not waived

In March, to mitigate the pandemic consequences, the federal government decided that tenants may not be terminated from April 1 to June 30 if they are due to the Covid 19 crisis temporarily unable to pay their rent. You get a delay: The rent can be paid until June 30, 2022. After the special regulation expired, normal tenancy law now applies again: "If you owe the rent for a month and a day, you can get the termination without notice," emphasizes Reiner Wild, Managing Director of the Berlin Tenant Association.

Loans, electricity, water and telephone now have to be paid again.

In addition to protecting tenants, the federal government also decided in March that installments for consumer loans could be deferred and that basic welfare contracts - energy, water, telephone, internet - could not may be canceled due to late payment. That is also changing now.

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[Keep an overview: Every morning from 6 a.m., editor-in-chief Lorenz Maroldt and his team report in the Tagesspiegel newsletter Checkpoint on the latest developments related to the corona virus. Register now for free: checkpoint.tagesspiegel.de .]

Union: Extension would be a "completely missing signal"

"An extension of the corona-related special regulations would be a completely missing signal", said Jan-Marco Luczak, the right and Consumer policy spokesman for the CDU / CSU parliamentary group, the Tagesspiegel. "We are currently doing everything we can to return to normality and get business going". With the “largest power and future package in post-war history”, the government wants to prevent tenants from experiencing payment difficulties and the question of termination therefore does not arise. The aid measures that have already been decided have an effect, says Luczak, and the social security systems would also cushion economic hardships in an unbureaucratic manner. This suggests that only a negligible proportion of private tenants have made use of the deferral options in recent months.

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Only a few tenants have applied for a deferral

According to a survey by the Berlin-Brandenburg Housing Association (BBU), less than 0.3 percent of the tenants in the region have applied for a deferment of their rent due to a pandemic. A nationwide survey by the Central Association of the Housing Industry GdW comes to similar results. GdW President Axel Gedaschko had warned of an extension of the rent moratorium. Otherwise the tenants would accumulate rent debts, the landlords lacked income for the operation and maintenance of the residential buildings.

Reiner Wild is not convinced. The numbers say nothing, he says. “The rent is the first one that is paid as soon as there is some money,” emphasizes the tenant protection. The fear of losing the apartment is great.

Millions of people currently have to hold their money together. The number of short-time workers is increasing. The Federal Employment Agency estimates that the figure rose from two million in March to six million in April. The Ifo Institute expects 7.3 million people to receive short-time work benefits in May. Unemployment is also growing. 2.8 million people were registered as unemployed in April, 170,000 more than in March. There are new numbers on Wednesday.

An exception applies to Hartz IV recipients until September

Hartz IV recipients currently benefit from a more generous coverage of their rental costs by the Job Center. The normally prescribed check of whether the apartment and the rent are appropriate is temporarily suspended due to the corona crisis. This rule applies to applications made between March 1st and September 30th.

Other tenants, however, could not count on rent subsidies, Wild believes. And housing benefit cannot solve the problem either, says DGB board member Körzell. It could not cover real housing costs, and it had to be applied for months in advance.

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