Voters in Berlin have elected to take apartments from big landlords in a bid to make housing more affordable. On 27 September, the city voted to buy up to 240,000 apartments from landlords. 56% of Berliners voted for the measure.
The vote is non-binding, but campaigners are urging city officials to follow the popular vote. The result of the referendum was met with some envy in the UK:
Lord I have seen what you have done for others https://t.co/otLU7lHGhv
— Robin Craig (@robin__craig) September 27, 2021
There has been growing anger about the increase of rents in Germany’s capital. According to real estate firm Guthmann, there has been a 13% rent increase in the city over the past year.
This has caused anger from the three-quarters of Berlin that rent. Furthermore, there is a shortage of flats in the city of about 205,000.
Berlin tenants in flats owned by company Adler recently told AFP that nearly 700 of them were facing a rent increase of 8%. For Regina Lehmann, whose only income is a disability pension, the increase was difficult.
Situations like this led to housing being a big factor for Berliners in Germany’s election.
Here's another way to end the housing crisis.
"Instead of building more homes to combat rising rents, Berliners opt for expropriating some 240,000 units of existing private housing"
— Kristyn Wong-Tam 黃慧文 (@kristynwongtam) September 28, 2021
Big real estate groups like Adler own many of the flats in Berlin. Adler alone owns 20,000 properties, and the biggest German rental company Vonovia recently announced it could buy a smaller rival, bringing its ownership to 550,000 apartments.
Seeing the situation, campaigners decided to take action. They secured 346,000 signatures, more than enough to allow them a referendum on the expropriation from big landlords.
Now Berlin has voted for the measure, campaigners are urging officials to listen. Campaigner Kalle Kunkel said:
Ignoring the referendum would be a political scandal. We will not give up until the socialization of housing groups is implemented.
I just voted to expropriate large landlords and socialize housing in Berlin. Feels pretty good pic.twitter.com/GcrIL5S034
— Ines Schwerdtner (@inesschwerdtner) September 26, 2021
Housing in the UK
As the news of Berlin’s referendum result broke, the results resonated with may in the UK with the desire to do something about housing.
The UK is in its own housing crisis, with many people completely unable to get into the market as house prices rise faster than wages. Rents are very high in the private sector, with many needing help from the state to cover them. The high rents also make it harder for people to get on the housing ladder as they can’t afford deposits.
Additionally, it’s harder to get affordable social housing. Rents are rising across the UK, and outside of London they’re rising at the fastest rate since 2008.
These conditions make a vote like Berlin’s very attractive. What it makes clear is that something must be done to solve the housing crisis.
In #Berlin people just voted to take back properties for the ultra wealthy for social housing.
In the UK the housing crisis continues, with government measures nothing more than easing the transfer of wealth from ordinary people to property developers.
— Jake Woodier (@JakeWoodier) September 27, 2021
Featured image via Flickr/dronepicr
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?