From dialogue to a Pact for Fair Housing

The year 2019 was characterised by broad-based societal debate on the topic of homes in Germany. This debate centred on Berlin. This is unsurprising as the market for rental apartments is especially tight there – 85% of people in Berlin rent their accommodation. By 2030, there will be a shortage of more than 200,000 residential units. Deutsche Wohnen was involved in this discussion, which rapidly became more intense. In the autumn, it was time to make the discussion more objective.

We led the way here in the summer with the promises we made to our tenants. These include a pledge that none of our tenants would have to give up their apartments because of modernisation work – see page Our promise to our tenants for more information. As its next step, the company invited people to a Berlin Dialogue for a fair housing market. The framework for this was four dialogue forums held locally, with more than 240 spectators convening in Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Pankow, Lichtenberg and Charlottenburg to discuss this issue with 21 experts from the fields of business, politics and society. A public digital platform was additionally made available at where Berliners could contribute their ideas, questions and criticisms regarding a fair residential property market. The discussions held were therefore varied and lively, and in some cases involved some very different positions. There was, however, consensus regarding the fact that things could not go on the way they were.

The question that dominated at the end of the year was therefore this: what specifically should now be done? Deutsche Wohnen made an important contribution here in drawing up the Pact for Fair Housing, which it presented to the public in December.

To ensure that it is not only those who are actively involved that are heard, Deutsche Wohnen also had 1,000 people surveyed by the polling institute Kantar TNS as part of the Faires Wohnen in Berlin (Fair Housing in Berlin) project. One of the questions asked was why there were not enough apartments in Berlin.

Another question generated some surprising answers: such as the fact that, like the housing industry itself, the majority of those surveyed believe the only sensible way to prevent rents from rising further is to increase the housing supply.

Meanwhile, an apartment unsurprisingly counted among the most existential needs for the majority of those surveyed. Solutions for Germany’s tight residential property markets therefore need to be found quickly.

Berlin needs a Pact for Fair Housing

#1 New construction

There is a shortage of as many as 200,000 residential units in Berlin. Only with new construction on a massive scale can we create the housing which is urgently needed. And this is only possible on the basis of cooperation between the municipal, cooperative and private housing industries, society and politics.

#2 Tailored and needs-based solutions

Taking the tenants’ individual income situations into account is fairer than treating as the same things that are not. This allows subsidies to make it to where they are needed.

#3 Climate protection

Climate protection and tenant protection must not be pitted one against the other. Berlin needs energy-efficient apartments with affordable rents. For this, the landlords, the tenants and the state must all pull together.

#4 Building land/speculation

An overall picture is needed of all the land available in the capital. Berlin must also regain control of its vacant building land and thus put a stop to unnecessary speculation with plots of land.

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