A referendum in Berlin requiring large apartment complex owners to sell their their units to the government passed by a large margin.
Affordable Housing Referendum
Please consider Berliners to Vote on Expropriating Housing From Powerful Landlords.
After years of rising rent forcing many Berliners out of the city, activists led by Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen (Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen, or DWE) received nearly 350,000 signatures from Berliners and managed to force a vote on whether to allow the expropriation of housing owned by landlords with over 3,000 units on the Sept. 26 election ballot.
While the movement to expropriate large real estate companies, who have made a fortune speculating on the housing market and causing rent increases over the past decade, has been active in Berlin for years, ironically it was the German Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Berlin's Mietendeckel (rent cap) law that was the catalyst for the current referendum. While this law would not impose a rent cap, DWE volunteer Dennis Rahmel thinks that it would still have a dramatic impact on rent prices in the city. "Prices would go down in the expropriated apartments, which would change the rent not [just for the socialized apartments] but for other people as well, no matter if they were in public apartments or not," said Rahmel. "It would also mean that society could show that there is some power against investors, against big capital, and that housing is a human right… it would be a big sign for other cities, too."
Kim Meyer with Bündnis gegen Verdrängung und Mietenwahnsinn Berlin (The Berlin Alliance against Displacement and Rent Madness) thinks that it will also discourage the kind of rampant speculation (and subsequent rent hikes) that real estate markets around the world have seen.
While litigation, such as the kind that met the rent cap law, is likely to challenge this referendum if it passes, it is less likely to be successful because the German constitution specifically allows for such appropriation. "[Unlike] Mietendeckel, socialisation is a constitutional right in Germany. In fact, many houses were already expropriated (and afterwards destroyed) in order to build a motorway around the city," said Meyer.
Meyer and other organizers think that the reason so many of the city's establishment have come out against the law is because of its possible effectiveness in solving the housing crisis—not only in Berlin, but as an example to cities all over the world. "It might inspire people to question the current sellout of their land and cities to global investors and to [investigate] compulsory purchases of necessities by their administrations, like housing, water wells, power plants, et cetera, and to fight for their human right to housing," said Meyer.
Yes 56.9%, No 39%