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‘Rent and the City’ is a small series of events hosted at the Amsterdam Center for Transformative Private Law in 2021/22 that intends to offer a forum for conversations on the role of law in fostering (or precluding) access to housing in global cities, at the boundaries of law, political economy, finance and activism. ‘Rent’ in the series title hints at two dimensions which have recently been the object of much debate and controversy: the rental of housing units for residential or leisurely purpose, on the one hand; and the financialisation of real estate in large cities, on the other hand. With an expected 68% of the world population projected to settle in urban areas by 2050, big city housing will be a rising policy concern for the future, bringing an array of legal fields from private law to human rights to the table. The first event in this series will focus on Regulation of Residental Rentals in European Cities.

Event details of Rent and the City, Part I
Date 15 October 2021
Time 15:00 -17:00
Organised by Candida Leone , Klaas Eller

Speakers and abstracts

Irina Domurath (Central University of Chile): Notes on the law and political economy of housing in Europe

Much has been written about the financialization about the housing sector in the last decades. Emphasis is put on the political economy of housing as a public policy. What remains neglected is the legal aspects of this political economy, especially in private law.  This contribution is based on the assumption that private law plays a pivotal role in the political economy of housing. Thus, it describes the legal framework governing housing relations in European Private Law, thus contributing to the understanding of the political economy of housing in the EU.

Christoph Schmid (Universität Bremen): The Berlin Rent Cap Saga

The 2020 Berlin rent cap law ("Mietendeckel") aimed at counteracting the extreme rent increases of the last decade, which had generated harsh social consequences such as displacing many vulnerable tenants from their residential areas. The rent cap's mechanisms were as follows: freezing existing rents, reducing excessively high existing rents, and capping new rents. Yet the rent cap law was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in 2021 on formal grounds, namely that the German Länder (regions) were not competent to legislate in that area as it was already covered exhaustively by federal legislation. This contribution explains the rent cap, its legal genesis and political repercussions. Then it analyses and criticizes the Constitutional Court's judgment on the ground that it constitutes a wrong formalistic decision without social sensitivity, which will generate huge social and economic costs. As a potential remedy, it proposes a formal duty of Constitutional Courts to discuss in all judgments the likely legal, social and economic consequences of these - an obligation which has been established for legislators already years ago.

Marco Loos (University of Amsterdam): From rent control to unfair terms control?

Since 2015, the market value of residential property has become a key element in determining whether a privately owned property is subject to rent control under Dutch law. This has led to a severe decrease in the number of rent-controlled properties, in particular in popular cities such as Amsterdam, as the value led the allowed price for the lease of the property to go over the statutory limit for rent-control. That means that most of the protection offered against increases of the rent are no longer available. Any rent increase must then be based on standard terms, and any protection against unfair increases must be based on the assessment of the fairness of the price increase term (in particular: the transparency thereof). The presentation discusses the newly acquired position of courts and unfair terms control in the area of residential rental with an eye to the broader development in the Dutch residential housing market and (de)regulation

About the Speakers

Irina Domurath is an Associate Professor of Law and the Central University of Chile.

Christoph Schmid is a Professor of European Economic Constitutional Law, Economic Law and Private Law and Director Centre of European Law and Politics at Universität Bremen.

Marco Loos is a full professor in Private law, in particular European consumer law, in the Faculty of Law at the University of Amsterdam.


This event will be held online. Please register below to recieve the zoom link. Upon registering for the event, you will recieve a zoom link in your confirmation email. If you have any questions, please contact act-fdr(at)