“For complex refurbishment projects we agree on individual solutions”
Deutsche Wohnen has around 167,000 residential and commercial units. We regularly make substantial investments in our properties to maintain and refurbish our portfolio to modern standards. We do so with a sense of proportion and sustainability. The work includes insulation with mineral fibres, facades worthy of listed buildings and new bathroom and kitchen blocks, just to give three examples. For our customers the work is often quite a burden. But we do a lot to ensure it is carried out with as little disruption as possible for the residents, as Lutz Reichert from Deutsche Wohnen explains.
Mr Reichert, what support do you provide for the tenants during refurbishment work?
That depends on the scale of the work. Basically the law says refurbishment has to be announced at least three months before work starts. Our team is then available by email and telephone to answer any questions that come up and to put people’s minds at rest. As well as small information events and the larger tenant meetings, in many cases our support also extends to personal visits to the customers. When extensive building work is planned, like the replacement of plumbing and wiring or the installation of central heating, of course we find alternative accommodation. We take the tenants’ individual circumstances into account and find customised solutions. That applies to people requiring nursing care, those who work shifts or to families with children, for example. But the main thing is always to talk about it.
Talking about conversations: how many have you had?
In 2018 we had over 800 meetings with our tenants in the properties. Altogether we answered more than 12,500 enquiries and organised 18 tenant meetings. In addition, we have our permanent tenant support service, which is available for customers at regular times on the estates.
How do the costs get divided for complex refurbishment works?
We cover most of the refurbishment expenses ourselves. About one third of the costs are allocated to tenants via the rent. In the past the allocation has been well below the statutory maximum of 11%. And to ensure that the new rent is still affordable given the available household income, our hardship clause applies from around 30%. Customers have to tell
us about this situation within the statutory deadline and we cap the rent increase accordingly in the subsequent allocation process, after the building work is complete.