Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co.

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Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co. ( expropriate DW for short ) is a citizens' initiative in Berlin that aims at a referendum on the socialization of private housing associations . Housing companies are to be expropriated, compensated for the expropriation and the apartments are to be transferred to an institution under public law . This would affect 243,000 of the approximately 1.5 million rental apartments in Berlin. The reasons are rising rents on the Berlin housing marketand in some cases neglected maintenance by large real estate companies. The primary goal, and hence the name of the initiative, is the company Deutsche Wohnen , which with around 110,000 apartments is the largest landlord in Berlin and, in accordance with the initiative, pursues a policy of permanent rent maximization.

By June 25, 2021, the initiative had collected more than 349,000 signatures that still need to be checked for validity. However, since 175,000 of the 261,000 signatures checked so far are already recognized as valid, the quorum has been reached. The signatures of seven percent of those eligible to vote in the House of Representatives - this corresponds to a little more than 170,000 signatures - were necessary so that there would be a referendum on expropriation on September 26, 2021, parallel to the elections to the German Bundestag and the Berlin House of Representatives. According to the Berlin constitution, “at least a quarter of those entitled to vote” - that corresponds to around 613,000 - would then have to vote for the decision to be successful. Since this is a so-called “decision-making referendum”, if this vote is successful, the Senate would only be asked to initiate all measures that are necessary for the transfer of real estate and land into common ownership for the purpose of socialization according to Art. 15 of the Basic Law. In doing so, it has more scope for implementation than with a legislative referendum, in which a firmly formulated law is already put to a vote. The Senate also has the option of not drawing up a corresponding law.


Rouzbeh Taheri, who is considered one of the heads of the initiative, and Michael Prütz reported in a Spiegel interview in 2019 how the idea of ​​initiating a referendum came about in 2017. However, the saying “expropriate Deutsche Wohnen” had already been given by the Berlin initiative “Kotti & Co.”. Kotti & Co also made the call for expropriation to the public in 2016 as part of a small campaign “We want our houses back”.


According to the Deutsche Wohnen & Co. expropriate initiative, real estate companies in Berlin are making fat profits from rising rents. Through the socialization, the rents could be reduced in over 240,000 apartments. Because the rents would then no longer have to pay the profit of Deutsche Wohnen & Co, but only the actual costs. The rent cuts would also have an impact on the rest of the housing market.

The city administration of Berlin, on the other hand, anticipates running costs for municipal management of the apartments to be socialized, which will exceed the unchanged existing rents by 100 to 340 million euros per year. If rents were to be reduced - as the initiative calls for - significantly higher ongoing losses would even be expected. Furthermore, the additional loan interest would burden the city budget.

The properties of housing construction companies and other real estate companies that own at least 3,000 rental apartments in Berlin on September 26, 2021 are to be socialized. This would affect 243,000 of the approximately 1.5 million rental apartments in Berlin.

The initiative is based on Article 15 of the Basic Law . Article 14, Paragraph 3, Clause 3 and 4 applies accordingly to compensation . Article 28 paragraph 1 of the Berlin Constitution is also mentioned. In Art. 28 VvB (right to housing and its inviolability) it says:

(1) Everyone has the right to adequate housing. The state promotes the creation and maintenance of adequate housing, especially for people with low incomes, as well as the formation of residential property.

From the combination of both articles it is deduced that everyone has the right to adequate housing .

According to Article 14, Paragraph 3 of the Basic Law, expropriations are possible to protect the common good, for example if people have to give up their house and property to build a motorway or entire villages are relocated for open-cast brown coal mining. However, expropriation must really be the last available means and proportionality must be preserved. The expected legal dispute about this would probably only be decided in the last instance before the Federal Constitutional Court .

According to the Basic Law, expropriation is only permitted if the type and extent of adequate compensation are regulated by law. The initiative promises that this compensation can be made “well below market value”. It would set eight billion euros in compensation for the 240,000 apartments to be expropriated. However, this interpretation is legally controversial. The left-wing administration for urban development expects the necessary compensation payments of 36 billion euros.

Support and rejection

Supporters and opponents of the popular initiative
Interest Groups:

Political parties and organizations:


Interest Groups:

Political parties and organizations:

In the opinion of Claus Michelsen from the German Institute for Economic Research , a municipal repurchase of apartments would not help those looking for accommodation in Berlin and would not relax the housing market in the long term. If you want to relax the housing market, it would make more sense to invest in new buildings in order to increase the supply overall. Reiner Braun from the economic research institute Empirica also recommends: “If the state spends the money, it should build more new buildings instead of buying stocks. Then I'll have more communal apartments. "

The Left spoke out in favor of the initiative from the start and also helped collect signatures.

The Greens decided to support the initiative at their state party congress.

The SPD and the governing mayor Michael Müller reject the expropriation of large housing groups. He argues that in the fight against rising rents, 15,000 or 20,000 new homes will have to be built every year. The housing construction targets could only be achieved with private partners, but that would not work through urban societies alone. The Jusos, on the other hand, supported the referendum.

The CDU rejects the initiative, since 36 billion euros in new debt would have to be incurred to compensate the dispossessed, but no new apartments would be created. Instead, it wants to create new affordable apartments with a new building offensive. CDU country chief Kai Wegner warned of impending rent and tax increases to finance the expropriations.

The FDP also rejects the initiative. FDP parliamentary group leader Sebastian Czaja accused the initiative of throwing sand in people's eyes. The expenses for the compensation led the state of Berlin to financial ruin.

Other supporters include the Berlin tenants' association and the Berlin tenant community as well as other social associations and church districts. The regional associations of the trade unions IG Metall , GEW and Ver.di as well as the DGB youth (but not the DGB regional association Berlin-Brandenburg) support the referendum.

The Association of Berlin-Brandenburg Housing Companies warns that more - including subsidized - housing is urgently needed in Berlin. However, the debate about expropriations alone scares off investors.

Axel Gedaschko, President of the GdW Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies , calls for “more affordable building land, less expensive requirements and more incentives for affordable new housing” in view of the tense housing market in the hotspots. There is also a need for more social housing. "These are the right instruments." Building has become too complicated and too expensive in Germany: "With the amount of investment that could still be used to build 100 apartments in 2010, ten years later you can only get 72 apartments off the ground."

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Housing company defends itself: "Our apartments are affordable" . In: FAZ.NET . ISSN  0174-4909 ( faz.net [accessed February 17, 2021]).
  2. a b Why expropriate? - Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen! Retrieved February 17, 2021 .
  3. Jan Hauser: Referendum likely: 343,000 Berliners want to expropriate residential groups. In: FAZ.NET . June 25, 2021, accessed June 25, 2021 .
  4. Berlin is facing a referendum on real estate expropriation . Article from June 25, 2021 in the portal spiegel.de , accessed on June 26, 2021
  5. ^ Michael Sontheimer: Initiative for expropriations. April 5, 2019, accessed May 4, 2021 .
  6. We want our houses back. In: Kotti & Co. February 26, 2016, accessed June 26, 2021 (German).
  7. Die Zeit, Are real estate companies in Berlin now being expropriated? , June 25, 2021, accessed on June 27, 2021
  8. ^ Constitution of Berlin - Section II: Fundamental Rights, State Goals , on berlin.de, accessed on March 8, 2021
  9. Die Zeit, Are real estate companies in Berlin now being expropriated? , June 25, 2021, accessed on June 27, 2021
  10. rbb24, The most successful popular initiative of all time - and its pitfalls , June 25, 2021 , accessed on June 27, 2021
  11. Die Zeit, Are real estate companies in Berlin now being expropriated? , June 25, 2021, accessed on June 27, 2021
  12. rbb24, real estate experts warn against buying back communal apartments , June 24th, 2021 , accessed on June 27th, 2021
  13. ZEIT Online: Berlin Greens advocate expropriation of housing companies. Retrieved April 17, 2021 .
  14. Team News, Carola Tunk: Berlin: Müller against expropriation of housing groups. Retrieved June 26, 2021 .
  15. Berlin Jusos want to expropriate housing groups. Retrieved April 17, 2021 .
  16. rbb24, expropriation initiative probably has enough signatures for a referendum , June 25th, 2021, accessed on June 26th, 2021
  17. Tagesspiegel, Berlin is about to make a referendum on real estate expropriation , June 25, 2021, accessed on June 27, 2021
  18. Tagesspiegel, Berlin is about to make a referendum on real estate expropriation , June 25, 2021, accessed on June 27, 2021
  19. Michael Prütz: Here we go: expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Retrieved April 17, 2021 .
  20. Tina Groll: Are real estate companies in Berlin now being expropriated? ZEIT Online, June 25, 2021, accessed on June 27, 2021 .
  21. Robert Kiesel: Berlin unions support referendums for expropriation. Der Tagesspiegel, June 16, 2021, accessed on June 27, 2021 .
  22. Haufe, Volksbegehren fuels the Berlin debate on socialization , May 11, 2021, accessed on June 27, 2021
  23. Handelsblatt, rent debate in Berlin: Housing industry calls for "Ministry for good living" , June 25 , 2021 , accessed on June 27 , 2021