Many apartment seekers are deterred by a lease with graduated rent for the time being. Here you will find the most important information about the regular rent increases.
The housing shortage in major German cities is currently causing a lot of trouble for many tenants. Anyone who has ever been looking for an apartment in Berlin, Munich or Hamburg knows how difficult it is to find a sufficiently large apartment in good condition at a reasonable price. And if a suitable offer can be found on the relevant Internet portals, the rush is of course great and the competition is huge.
In their desperation, many apartment hunters are therefore willing to make major compromises in order to finally sign a lease. One of these concessions is often the so-called graduated rent. It is anchored in the rental agreement that the basic rent increases at regular intervals by a fixed amount. Tenants know in advance that their apartment will become more and more expensive over the years. Often, such contracts also provide for a so-called minimum rental period. In most cases, the contract can only be terminated without any problems after a few years. Is it still worth signing a lease with graduated rent?
What is a graduated rent?
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In a lease agreement with graduated rent, regular increases in the basic rent are already provided for when the contract is concluded. Accordingly, tenants already know when they move in that their apartment will become more and more expensive over the years. However, the graduated rents anchored in the contract are subject to strict legal requirements and may not simply be set freely by the landlord.
For example, it is stipulated that a rent scale must last at least one year. Consequently, the first rent increase may only take place after twelve months. Apart from that, the landlord is free to decide how long the respective staggered periods are. In many cases, rents are regularly increased every two to three years and not once a year as legally possible. In addition, the initial rent may not be more than ten percent above the rent index in areas with rent control.
As reported by the advice site Smartmiete, among others, graduated rents may be permanently higher than the local comparative rents, but exceptionally high rents can still constitute an administrative offense. So if you are worried that your landlord is aiming for a so-called "usurious rent" with the graduated rental agreement, you should definitely seek legal advice, for example from the German Tenants' Association (DMB).
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Graduated rent: The disadvantages of regular rent increases
There is no question that a graduated rent has a deterrent effect on many apartment seekers at first. After all, who wants to have to assume that the monthly payments for the living space will be higher and higher in the long run when concluding their rental agreement? Accordingly, the biggest disadvantage of graduated rent is quite obvious: over the years, the rent continues to rise.
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An additional disadvantage is the suspension of the so-called cap limit for leases with graduated rent. The cap limit is usually determined by law up to what amount landlords may increase the monthly receivables for current housing conditions. This excludes, for example, tenants from suddenly and unexpectedly being confronted with a disproportionate increase in rent. Since the cap on graduated leases no longer applies, the increases in rent can therefore be correspondingly large.
In addition, the minimum rental period can also be a negative aspect of graduated rent. It can be set in the contract for up to four years. In order to move out of the apartment before the end of the minimum contract period, tenants must present an extraordinary reason for termination in this case.
Does a graduated rental agreement have any advantages at all?
It seems that a lease with graduated rent actually only offers advantages to the landlord of the apartment. But in fact, tenants can also discover some positive aspects on closer inspection. Among other things, the legal obligation is a great advantage of graduated rent, because the regular increases and graduated periods must be clearly defined for the duration of the rental period when the lease is concluded. Accordingly, tenants do not expect any nasty surprises, because they already know in advance how the rent will change over the years. A sudden change of heart on the part of the landlord in terms of rental amount or graduated term is unlawful and therefore excluded.
An additional advantage of the graduated lease is also the exclusion of further rent increases, for example after modernization work or necessary renovations. If the tenant pays a graduated rent, this work may not be the basis for a change in the rent. If you live in an area with rent control, you can also rely on the fact that the legal regulations on the rent index also apply to the determination of a graduated rent.
An index-linked lease also offers some advantages and disadvantages that tenants should be aware of before signing the contract.