Berlin (dpa) – Berliners have spoken out in favor of the expropriation of large real estate groups. 56.4 percent of voters voted in favor of the project on Sunday, 39.0 percent rejected the project, as announced by the state’s election leadership.
At the same time, the minimum quorum required for the approval of a quarter of the voters was reached. Thus, according to the text of the resolution, the Berlin Senate is now called upon to “take all the measures” necessary for the transfer of real estate into common property and to draft a law on this subject.
However, the vote is not legally binding on politicians. Because the vote was not on a specific bill that would have passed directly through a successful referendum. Nonetheless, the new Senate and House of Representatives elected on Sunday will face the vote.
New government wants to draft a law
The main SPD candidate in Berlin, Franziska Giffey, has announced that she will respect the referendum. “It must now also be the drafting of such a bill,” she said Monday in RBB Inforadio. “But this project must then also be examined in the light of constitutional law.” The future Senate must examine very carefully what is constitutionally possible. Giffey warned that Berlin should not get another negative judgment from the Federal Constitutional Court. Germany’s highest court recently overturned Berlin’s rent ceiling.
In the opinion of the Greens, too, the result of the referendum should be taken seriously. “It belongs to the coalition negotiations,” said leading candidate Bettina Jarasch of the German news agency. Politicians need to check whether an implementation of citizens’ voting is feasible. “But there are still many legal and practical questions to be clarified for such a law.” As an alternative, Jarasch promoted his concept of a “rental protection umbrella”, a voluntary pact between politicians, landlords and other parties involved for new buildings and fair rents. “It’s up to the housing companies to decide,” she said.
Around 240,000 apartments affected
Concretely, the project, so far unique in Germany, involves companies with more than 3,000 apartments in Berlin, insofar as they pursue an “intention to make a profit”. These must be socialized, that is to say expropriated against compensation and transferred to an institution governed by public law. This would affect around 240,000 apartments, or around 15% of Berlin’s rental housing stock – a legally controversial multibillion-dollar venture.
The “Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co” initiative has announced that it will intensively accompany the upcoming coalition negotiations: “We do not accept delaying strategies or attempts to intercept them. We know all the tricks, ”said Kalle Kunkel, spokesperson for the initiative. “We will not give up until the socialization of housing groups is in place.”
In Berlin, the level of asking rents in particular has risen sharply in recent years. Even normal workers struggle to find affordable housing in many parts of the city.
The “Deutsche Wohnen & Co expropriate” initiative believes that it can stop the rise in rents and secure affordable rents over the long term thanks to the socialization of apartments. In doing so, it invokes Article 15 of the Basic Law. It says: “Land, natural resources and the means of production may be transferred into common property or other forms of public economy for the purpose of socialization by a law which regulates the type and extent of The compensation. “
Completely new territory
Whether the Berlin Senate will now draft such a law is open and depends in particular on the political makeup of the new state government. The SPD, the CDU, the AfD and the FDP are – like the economy – against expropriations. The left is in favor, without ifs or buts, the Greens consider that such an approach “as a last resort” is possible.
Berlin would innovate completely. According to the Senate’s forecasts, the compensation costs alone would amount to 29 to 36 billion euros. The expropriation initiative provides for 7.3 to 13.7 billion euros. He does not want to compensate the real estate company with money, but with bonds, which are then repaid from the rental income over a period of 40 years.
The legal audits of a socialization become more complicated, there are already reports for and against. In any case, such a project should end up before the Federal Constitutional Court. Berlin last failed in April with the rent cap, that is, the rent caps imposed by the state.