Demanding affordable housing, thousands march in Berlin against soaring rents

Rents in Germany have risen dramatically in the past five years, with Berlin witnessing an increase of a staggering 51%

April 08, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
More than 40,000 people joined the march "Against rent sharks and speculators” in Germany on April 7 to end the “rental madness”. Courtesy: Interventionistische Linke

On April 7, thousands of people marched in Berlin, demanding that the government expropriate property from private housing giants in order to solve the housing crisis and the soaring rents in the city. The marchers, carrying banners with slogans such as “Against rent sharks and speculators”, demanded legislations to renationalize properties of private builders who own more than 3,000 apartments.

Left Interventionist, Berlin, reported that over 40,000 people joined the march to end the “rental madness”. According to a study by the online housing portal immowelt.de, rents in Germany have risen dramatically in the past five years, especially in some major cities. The increase in Berlin has been a whopping 51%. The study said that with the influx of almost 40,000 people in the city in the last decade, the rents have almost doubled since 2008. The city, which provided affordable housing in the past, is now struggling to provide accommodation to newcomers.

A campaign, named “expropriate Deutsche Wohnen”, has been launched in Berlin, demanding expropriation of the housing properties of Deutsche Wohnen and Co., the city’s largest landlord, owning around 115,000 flats.

Rouzbeh Taheri, one of the main organizers of the march demanding an end to these “rent sharks”, said that people have had very bad experiences with these property companies for years as the these giants care only about profits and not about the people.

Activists have started a signature campaign for a local referendum that would require the Berlin city hall to expropriate the housing properties of companies that possess more than 3,000 apartments. Campaigners of the “expropriate Deutsche Wohnen” initiative have six months to gather 20,000 signatures and until February to collect a further 170,000 to force a referendum.

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