Why Chancellor Angela Merkel refuses rent cover and expropriation

Chancellor at the Tenants’ Association in Cologne
:Angela Merkel rejects rental cover and expropriation

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    Elmar Sagittarius

The Berlin initiative "Deutsche Wohnen and Co expropriate" when handing over the signatures to representatives of the administration.

The Berlin initiative “Deutsche Wohnen and Co expropriate” when handing over the signatures to representatives of the administration.

Photo:

Berliner Zeitung / Gerd Engelsmann

The Berlin initiative “German Housing and Co-Expropriation” achieved its first partial success on Friday. The organizers have handed over more than 77,000 signatures to the senate administration. This is a hurdle on the way to the referendum for the socialization of real estate companies taken. 20,000 signatures would have been necessary.

“The fact that we were able to collect so many signatures in such a short time shows how frustrated the Berliners are about the profiteering of real estate companies,” said Jenny Stupka, spokeswoman for the initiative. “This is a strong sign of change in ownership,” added her colleague Rouzbeh Taheri. The Senate Department will now check the legality of the signatures. With this amount, however, it is very likely that the required 20,000 signatures will be achieved.

Afterwards the interior administration will evaluate the referendum juridically. Should it be waved in the end – which is politically and legally disputed – the Berlin would again asked to sign. For the referendum seven percent of voters would have to sign: about 175,000 people. A simple majority would be enough for the subsequent referendum, but 25 percent of all voters will have to attend.

Berlin SPD and Greens show sympathy for expropriation

But even a successful referendum would give no guarantee that the Senate would stick to it. For example, last year the red-red-green state government overruled people’s will to keep Tegel airport open regardless of the opening of BER.

In the expropriation debate, the pressure on the SPD Interior Senator Andreas Geisel is also built up within the Berlin coalition, not to delay the process. The left clearly spoke out for expropriation. The SPD and the Greens show sympathy for the project, but consider it a tool among many policies that are halting the rampant increase in rents.

Nevertheless, green city development politician Katrin Schmidberger speaks in view of the signing of a “clear order to red-red-green”. The Senate must work together with the initiative to draft a law. In addition, the process should not be thwarted, “by the referendum is dragged before the Constitutional Court,” said Schmidberger. In fact, Geisel will hardly find a majority for going to court in the Senate.

Criticism remains

The Berlin FDP faction leader Sebastian Czaja had also come on Friday to the place of signing to protest. Czaja considers expropriation to be a wrong instrument of rent policy, he spoke of “arbitrariness” and a “massive confrontation”.

There is also criticism from elsewhere. The association Berlin-Brandenburgischer housing company (BBU) considers the project not only not constitutional, but also too expensive. The compensation is estimated at 18 to 37 billion euros. Moreover, this does not create a new apartment, although this is urgently needed. “The victims would be in view of the many, then no longer affordable investments in the city of Berlin,” says BBU CEO Maren core.

The Berlin expropriation initiative mentioned Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) on the German Tenants Day in Cologne on Friday not explicitly. “It only changes a bit when apartments are being built,” she said. The appearance and speech of the Chancellor on the rent policy had been eagerly awaited.

The Chancellor reaffirmed her commitment to provide a total of five billion euros for social housing in this legislature. Together with the expenses for construction costs, housing subsidies and urban development, it should even be 13 billion euros. But Merkel warned the countries to actually use the money earmarked for social housing. The problem is so great, “that really every euro must be spent in this area, too”.

Berlin gets dragoons area

Merkel expressed skepticism about demands for a rental cover. While it is right to meet usury, “we also need to create a climate in which people like to build,” she said. “It must continue to be interesting and attractive to invest in housing.”

Although she also rejects rental cover and expropriations, Merkel advocated regulatory measures to provide information and create rental rents in order to enforce more transparency in rent increases. In her speech, she also referred to the already decided increase in housing allowances by about 30 percent. This is “a groundbreaking change”, especially since the housing allowance should increase automatically in the future in line with the cost of living.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor, speaks at the annual conference of the German Tenants' Association in Cologne.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor, speaks at the annual conference of the German Tenants’ Association in Cologne.

Photo:

dpa / Oliver Berg

Programs for energy-efficient building renovation are also urgently needed. Here the government will once again make a start.

The Mietendeckel could be in the Bund to the next problem of the grand coalition. Not because the Berlin Senate wants to put on such a cover in 2020, for the next five years. But because apparently the federal SPD of the subject accepts. At least transitional party leader Thorsten Schfer-Gmbel has demanded that a rental cover should be introduced nationwide. “We need the Mietpreisdeckel for all Germany,” he told the Tagesspiegel.

Good decision for the Berlin housing market

“We will address this in the coalition in the next few days and make it the topic.” The goal is to freeze the rents in sought-after residential areas for five years largely. Say, the Berlin model.

It goes to the cover for a breathing space in the rental market, stressed Schfer-Gmbel. “It gives us time to build, build and build again”; There one agrees with Merkel again. They will have to “build new neighborhoods and at the same time find ways to get work back to the country so people do not get into the situation of moving to agglomerations.” Also, the tenants’ association can imagine a Mietendeckel.

For the Berlin housing market, a good decision was made on Friday. The country now again belongs to the Dragoon area in Kreuzberg. In the Finance Committee of the Federal Council, the land exchange deal with the federal government has taken the last hurdle. The Confederation gets several properties that already have federal facilities, such as the Jewish Museum.

In return, the land will receive the fillet plot on Mehringdamm. City Senator Katrin Lompscher (left) wants to show what is possible on the site on Monday, and that it will be able to build up to 500 apartments there.(with AFP)