Repurchase of 1821 apartments
:This is what the tenants expect in the cosmos district of the state of Berlin
For three years was negotiated, now it has been agreed: The municipal housing company City and Country has 1821 Plattenbauwohnungen and 22 commercial units in Kosmosviertel in Altglienicke bought back. The previous owner is the private Schnefeld-Wohnen GmbH, against which tenant protests have been directed for two years. The apartments were once in municipal hands – in 1998 they were sold by city and country to the private company.
Repurchase of apartments by state-owned housing associations
Altogether, there are 17 buildings in the district on the southeastern edge of Berlin just before the airport Schnefeld, which are each between six and eleven floors high, said the Senate Department for Urban Development. The apartments will change hands in April. City and Land, Schnefeld-Wohnen and the administration do not want to provide information about the purchase price. The contracting parties had agreed silence, “because this corresponds to the normal market practice,” said a spokeswoman for city and country on demand on Monday.
It is a further step in the country’s endeavor to bring the Berlin housing stock back into municipal hands. Most recently, the state-owned Gewobag bought 514 apartments in the Social Palace in Schneberg in December. Shortly before, the district, Senate and Gewobag had already put together a hitherto unique aid package for hundreds of tenants in Karl-Marx-Allee in order to prevent their apartments from going to Deutsche Wohnen.
Protests of the residents in the cosmos district act
In the Kosmosviertel, tenants have been protesting since the beginning of 2017 against the methods of Schnefeld-Wohnen GmbH, which is managed by the Munich-based Helmut Hagemann. The neighborhood is considered to be socially weak: especially many long-term unemployed and Hartz IV recipients live there, the child poverty is high, overall the unemployment rate is about ten percent above the Berlin average of 6.7. The protests ignited after Schnefeld-Wohnen had the faades of more than 20 houses in the cosmos quarter renovated energetically between 2016 and 2018.
According to critics, the construction measures are far from meeting the minimum standards and have hardly any effect. Nevertheless, rents were subsequently increased. From “energetic pseudo-modernization, which served only the increase in profits,” said Peter Schmidt, spokesman for the initiative launched in early 2017 tenants protest Kosmosviertel. “It was a fundamental violation of social rights.” More than 800 parties have since been increased the rent – up to 180 euros. “Many people can not afford that,” says Schmidt.
Now takes over the country, which makes Schmidt and many tenants happy. “It’s a good step, we definitely rate that positively,” he says. He hopes that the new owner will quickly tackle repairs that his predecessor has been putting off for years.
Schnefeld-Wohnen GmbH does not comment
For Schmidt, the change of ownership is far from clear: It is expected that the city and the land will take back the rent increases from April onwards. “The rent increases must be off the table,” says Schmidt. In addition, his initiative at the old owner Schoenefeld-Wohnen continue to press for repayment of the amounts that the tenants have already made since the increase. Schnefeld-Wohnen did not respond to inquiries on Monday.
Whether the city and country reviews the redevelopment and possibly reverses the rent increases is still unclear. Before the change of ownership, they wanted to comment on details, a spokeswoman said on Monday. “Of course” but they are based on the current technical and legal standards. “In line with our orders, we attach great importance to a moderate rental development without overburdening households.”
Christian Grff, CDU: Rent increases must be withdrawn
The opposition is skeptical about the purchase. Christian Grff, building spokesman for the CDU, does not want to cheer too soon: “The rent increases must be taken back, otherwise the whole purchase makes no sense,” he told the Berliner Zeitung. In addition, it should be disclosed in Parliament how much the apartments cost exactly. “Otherwise, this is a tangible scandal.” In his view, the purchase does not change the fact that building Senator Katrin Lompscher (left) creates a climate that prevents new buildings and contributes to a tightening of the rent crisis.
Stefan Frster of the FDP speaks of the “insanity of the Berlin housing policy”: First, the apartments were 20 years ago “for an Appel and an egg verscherbelt”, now they would be repurchased for many times the then selling price. “The state of Berlin should finally focus on new construction, so that the market relaxes.”