Berlin to Vote on Seizing Rental Properties

Over 350,000 people have signed in a petition, targeting corporate landlords with more than 3,000 apartments each — will be voted on in a local referendum in September. 

According to polling, expropriation, which would require firms to give their properties to the city government at a “fair” price, is supported by nearly half of Berliners.

Lorena Jonas, a resident, has been fighting landlord rent increases in her upscale Berlin neighborhood for the past eight years. Her most recent battle, though, might have ramifications for hundreds of thousands of tenants across the city. “What does it mean that my flat is now a commodity on the stock market, where the goal is to draw as much profit as possible for shareholders?” said Jonas, who lives in a property in Kreuzberg owned by Berlin’s biggest listed landlord Deutsche Wohnen, the main target of the campaign. 

“These questions are now resonating across Berlin and beyond,” Jonas added.

More than half of Germans rent their houses, the second-highest percentage among OECD countries, and renter ranks are growing as property prices rise globally, making homeownership less affordable. 

According to Eurostat, about a quarter of EU households lived in market-rate rental housing in 2019, the most recent data available.

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