2020 was a year that saw many changes – as the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to shape our world and put our nation, our people and ourselves as an organisation to the test. Yet I truly believe that crisis reveals the strength of a society. As we were less badly hit in the property sector in comparison to other industries, we decided in spring 2020 to use our strengths for good. Not just with brave words, but with good deeds.
Our tenants have no need to worry about their homes as a result of the crisis and we are, of course, continuing to stick by our tenant promise. At the same time, we wish to support our commercial tenants, small businesses and service companies, and the social organisations and associations with whom we have lasting partnerships. The same goes for everyone, as it has throughout the crisis: if you are in need, you can turn to us, as we have set up a support fund worth EUR 30 million. This was made possible thanks in part to the support of our investors, who waived part of their dividend for the fund.
In addition to the coronavirus crisis, however, familiar challenges remain and have lost none of their urgency. These include climate change, to which the property industry is well-known for making a significant contribution. We made a proposal this past year for how to make significant progress on energy-related building updates in Germany without overburdening tenants.
Another situation which has impacted our society for a long time is the lack of modern, energy-efficient living space in the country’s growth regions. The acquisition of Isaria München Projektentwicklungs GmbH and our strategic shareholding in QUARTERBACK Immobilien AG will help us make a bigger contribution to solving this problem in the future. Over the next years, around 18,000 new residential units will be built in German metropolitan regions in a climate-friendly way. As part of this, we are tackling another challenge of our time: our ageing population. We also plan to invest in this area in the coming years in order to create residential nursing facilities for older people that meet modern standards and individual requirements for living later in life.
Some of the more positive news from the past year includes the fact that we improved on results from our annual tenant survey for the third year running. Satisfaction with Deutsche Wohnen rose from 78 % to 82 % year-on-year. That shows that our measures to improve customer satisfaction are a step in the right direction.
And there’s been another new development that you might have noticed in our German-language communications: we’re taking our gender-neutral approach to the German language a step further. For one very good reason: at Deutsche Wohnen, we aim to treat everyone equally – in word as well as deed.
Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Wohnen