By Dina Elsayed and Kate Brady
A lot of Berliners have been teleconferencing from home with their workplace since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Now, many have the option of going to court from home as well.
On Thursday, a civil court in the German capital held its first video-conferenced hearing in an insurance company dispute over water damage.
Teleconferenced hearings in Germany were made legal seven years ago.
Court spokesman Thomas Heymann says with the coronavirus pandemic, the virtual hearings will come in handy, as the risk of infection is lower when there are fewer people in courtrooms.
Berlin’s rent cap could be in jeopardy after a court in Bavaria ruled that a referendum on a six-year freeze of rents is unconstitutional.
The court said on Thursday that tenancy law is a federal issue, not a state one. Referenda in Bavaria are only permitted for state laws.
The ruling bolsters the arguments of conservative politicians in Berlin who oppose the rental cap that’s already been in place in the German capital since February. They say Bavaria’s ruling shows that the Berlin rent freeze is also unconstitutional.
Der sechsjährige #Mietenstopp in Bayern ist unzulässig. Damit wird unsere Rechtsauffassung bestätigt: Der #Mietendeckel in #Berlin ist verfassungswidrig und steht vor dem Aus. Die @cduberlin tritt ein für ein Bündnis für bezahlbares Bauen und Wohnen!
▶️ https://t.co/OykVcDaGwL pic.twitter.com/MTdAoyFqpE
— Kai Wegner (@kaiwegner) July 16, 2020
The freeze in place as of February 23rd, caps rents on some 1.5 million apartments in Berlin at the June 2019 price. From 2022, they may increase by a maximum of 1.3% annually.
This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.