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Berlin poised for rent freeze to curb skyrocketing rates

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Christian Fernsby |
Berlin street house
European economies   Berlin street house

Berlin authorities will decide Tuesday whether to freeze rents in the booming German capital over the next five years, in what would be their latest bid to halt runaway gentrification.

Once described as "poor but sexy", Berlin has seen its housing costs double over the last decade as employees lured by the strong job market move into the city.

The sharp rent hikes have led some residents to ponder radical solutions, including pushing for the seizure of housing stock from powerful landlords.

Alarmed by the trend, Berlin's city government is poised Tuesday to agree the outlines of a draft law that would include a temporary freeze on rents for five years from 2020.

Under the plan that could affect 1.4 million properties, landlords who seek to raise rates because of renovation work will also have to seek official approval for any increases above 50 cents ($.56) per square metre (11 square feet).

Only social housing and private property that has not been let out would be exempt.

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