Berlin neighbourhood fights gentrification
In an effort to stop luxury renovations that are forcing long-time local residents out of their homes, the local government in a Berlin district will not approve many remodeling requests, including floor heating and building a second balcony.
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.