Graduated rent in the contract: everything about a previously agreed rent increase

A graduated rental agreement protects tenants from unforeseeable rent increases, and can also have many disadvantages. In this article, you will learn which requirements a graduated rental agreement must meet and what tenants must pay attention to.

What does graduated rent mean?

A graduated rent is an agreement within a rental contract that determines future increases in the net cold rent in advance. It is important that the graduated rent increases take place at the earliest one year after the last increase.

How is a graduated rent correctly agreed upon?

The legislator places high demands on a permissible graduated rent contract. For example, the rental agreement must clearly state the following agreements in writing:

  • Extent of the rent increase as a monetary amount: Agreements which only contain percentages or refer to the rent per square metre are not permitted.
  • Time of the incipient rental scales: Between two rental scales there must be a period of at least one year in accordance with § 557a BGB. If the graduated rent agreement violates this regulation even by only one day, it is legally inadmissible.
  • Listing of all future rental scales: The rental agreement must specifically state any future rent increases. Formulations like "etc." are not valid.

If the graduated rent contract does not meet these legal requirements, the graduated rent is not permitted. You only have to pay the rent that was agreed upon at the beginning.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a graduated rent contract?

The biggest advantage of an agreed graduated rent is that it excludes any further rent increases, e.g. for modernisation reasons. As a tenant you will therefore not be surprised by unforeseeable rent increases on the part of the landlord.

However, a graduated rent agreement also has disadvantages: If a graduated rent has been fixed, the rental agreement may exclude an ordinary termination of the flat for up to 4 years. If there is no rent brake ordinance in force in your region, the graduated rent may be up to 20 percent higher than the local comparable rent. This is particularly annoying, as agreed rent scales cannot be changed without further ado.

Does a graduated rent lift the rent control law?

In principle, the federal rent control law “Mietpreisbremse” also applies to graduated rent agreements. For example, in regions where the rent control law applies, the agreed graduated rent may not exceed the local comparable rent by more than 10 percent according to §§ 556d, 557a para. 4 BGB.

You should therefore check with each new rent scale whether it exceeds the local comparative rent disproportionately. The easiest way to do this is to use the CONNY rent control calculator.

If it turns out that the agreed graduated rent is inadmissible, legal action is advisable. CONNY supports you in reprimanding your landlord in due time and in reclaiming your overpaid rent as quickly as possible.