wenigermiete.de – securing legal rights for German tenants
Who is wenigermiete.de and what is the idea behind it?
Wenigermiete.de founded was by the German lawyers Dr. Frederik Gärtner, Exec. Dipl. HSG and Dr. Daniel Halmer, Dipl.-Kfm. in 2016. The startup with a team of lawyers, legal assistants and developers is based in Berlin.
Our objective is to secure legal rights for tenants. The housing market in German cities such as Berlin, Hamburg or Munich is dealing with shortages of affordable flats. This leads not only to an increase of renting prices but also to a change of the tenant`s relationship to the landlord. Tenants increasingly relinquish their rights in order to keep a good relationship with their landlords and not to lose their apartment. Landlords often use that to increase rents or by charging rents that are above the legal limit. We are working to restore balance by enforcing the legal rights for tenants who are very well protected by the German rental law.
The initial idea was to help tenants to enforce the law called “Mietpreisbremse” that was legislated by the German government in 2015. The law is a reaction to the increasing rents and limits the height of rents based on the local average. When we founded wenigermiete.de the law was widely seen as ineffective, because landlords did not comply to the law and tenants were not filing complaints. As a reaction to this situation, we built the online platform wenigermiete.de.
How does wenigermiete.de work?
After only one year we are now offering eight different legal products. On our platform we provide a tool that enables our users to calculate their monthly saving potential. The user authorizes us to enforce his rights and provides the details of his situation, the rental contract and other necessary documents.
In order to make the service available and affordable to everyone, we are taking away the financial risk from the customer. Only if the rights are enforced successfully, we are charging a fee calculated based on the obtained savings.
The German Legal Tech Market
Despite the appearance of many players in the German Legal Tech market, customers are still shy when it comes to legal online services. Customer behaviour can be recognized in search terms with local keywords or the expectation of an office nearby. We recognized that Germans like to talk to a person that handles the fate of their home and rental contract. Therefore, we offer phone services while developing our technology to create online user experiences.
The business model works, because we use our technology to streamline our workflows. It allows us to handle a high amount of cases with a comparatively small team. Providing an online service opens the nationwide market for us while offline law firms tend to operate locally.
A workflow starts with the customer providing details of his case to our database. Due to a standardized form, we receive the data structured which optimizes handling of each case. From the database our case team receives the data that is used to communicate with the landlords, to give feedback about the case to the customer and to prepare the trials.
Our main focus on development is to automate the processes further. We are planning to use AI for data extraction of unstructured data that we receive from the counterparty / landlord, e.g. in the form of a lawyer’s letter. We believe that at least for the following three reasons JAAS is an excellent use case for AI:
Legalese (legal standard language) is based on defined terms and is standardized to a high degree.
The AI is not customer facing but counterparty facing, i.e. we have a relatively high tolerance for error (we don’t lose money or customer credibility, only time)
The number of data to extract is relatively limited as we can boil down the data to what is legally relevant, e.g. the 3 exceptions of rent control.
About the Author:
Katja Fahrendholz is Senior Marketing Manager at www.wenigermiete.de