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Berlin neighbourhood fights gentrification

Published: 22 Dec 2012 09:14 GMT+01:00

The city's northeastern Pankow neighbourhood is also not allowing two smaller apartments to be made into a larger space and will prohibit landlords from building a second bathroom, the Berliner Zeitung reported on Friday. The new rules take effect in January.

A local politician in charge of construction said about 45,000 flats will be affected by the changes. The restrictions do not apply to new construction and people living in owner-occupied flats can carry out luxury renovations on them. They just can’t rent them out that way.

Flats designated as residential housing can also not be rezoned for commercial use and they cannot be used as vacation homes. Local officials estimate that in one small section of the neighborhood some 1,000 smaller flats were lost because landlords combined smaller units together to make larger, more luxurious spaces.

Building lifts is not prohibited, however, even thought that typically raises the value of the property. Local building officials want to promote barrier-free living and also recognize that the population is aging and more lifts will be needed, the paper said.

Officials recognise that there are plenty of people who can pay higher rents, but they want to protect long-time residents of the neighbourhood, many of whom have had to leave due to rising rents.

A state secretary in the Berlin city government praised the measures, but also said the new rules are not for every part of the city.

According to city forecasts, the Pankow district, which also includes the thoroughly gentrified area of Prenzlauer Berg, will experience the highest growth rate of all Berlin neighbourhoods, with forecasts showing a 16.3 percent increase in residents by 2030, when it is expected to house 437,200 Berliners.

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

15:05 December 22, 2012 by whiteriver
Yeah, if I can't have it, you can't either. Let's have a german version of Kowloon Walled city: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kowloon_Walled_City
15:45 December 22, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Oh woe to anyone who should try to raise the value of their property. Cannot have that now can we. I can see this one hit the courts like a Tsunami.
16:21 December 22, 2012 by IchBinKönig
The truth is, when these people talk about inequality; They do not want to be helped up, in so much as they want wealthier people to be brought down to their level. Of course, the Government is more than happy to accommodate their Class Warfare, since the money ends up in Government coffers.

Gone are they days improving. We are now in the Social Justice phase of Socialism.
19:14 December 22, 2012 by owlguard
I understand the Amercian view of this type of legislative action but Europeans hold a different phylosophy than Americans. When American find a wall in their way they engineer a way around it, over it, and through it. Europeans find a wall and they adapt to it, accepting it. Of course theis is a simplified example and a very broad generalization but I have seen it in action. The bottom line is reasonable housing is in short supply. New construction is expensive and land is at a premium, often times regulated so that it can not be used for housing. The new law only applies to rented appartments and not owner occupied space. I would like to know how german's feel about this legislation.
19:29 December 22, 2012 by Zlik
Modernizations, are increases on top of rent. I like this group mentioned that oppose.
02:24 December 23, 2012 by Raydoggy
I like the German idea that a house for living in, not being used to make a profit from flipping it.

The thing that makes Berlin special, is the cheap rents, because it allows people to have a life and get off the treadmill for a moment, unlike other cities where housing is seen as an investment commodity, and young people are now forced out of ever owning their own home.

I own an apartment, but I'd be happy if the prices never went up, so that I can keep the rent low and have young creative people continue to rent it. The last thing Berlin needs is to turn into New York or London, full of suits who have made both cities soulless. I love Berlin.
02:36 December 23, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
@owlguard

'Flats designated as residential housing can also not be rezoned for commercial use and they cannot be used as vacation homes.'

I think this may apply to owner occupied apartments also. If so this may be a major shake up in ownership rights and will surely result in an avalaunce of legal challenges.

Not that I rely on TL to have trangressed the article into Ex-Pat furmula English.
15:24 December 23, 2012 by catjones
Raydoggy...if you own your apartment you can set your rental price wherever you choose regardless of market purchase prices.

Speculation (by definition) does not ensure profits. Search for 'housing bubble' and 'under water'.
16:44 December 23, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
@catjones

'Flats designated as residential housing can also not be rezoned for commercial use and they cannot be used as vacation homes.'

As I said in my previous post. This looks like flat owners in Pankow cannot rent their flats any more as vacation homes. This is a restriction on ownership rights and I reckon it will be challenged. I own a flat in Charlottenburg and would not like this to happen in my Bezirk.
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