About 14 months after a successful Referendum in Berlin A commission of experts set up by the Senate considers the expropriation of large housing companies to be fundamentally possible, but still sees many unanswered questions. This emerges from a draft for an interim report, which was researched by the Berlin morning post got known.
According to the paper, which is also available to the German Press Agency, the 13-member committee sees the issue of expropriation as a legislative competence of the state. According to the Basic Law, the socialization of land falls under the so-called “competing legislation” between the federal and state governments. But since the federal government has not yet made use of this, the state of Berlin can regulate the socialization of properties itself. However, the experts classify a possible law on the socialization of the housing companies themselves as “constitutionally problematic”.
In the referendum on September 26, 2021 a good 59 percent of voters voted for the expropriation of real estate groups with more than 3000 apartments in Berlin. It is the hope of the proponents that with such a socialization the rise in rents can be stopped or at least slowed down, because then more apartments will be in public hands.
The question of compensation is still open
Since April, the expert commission, headed by former Federal Justice Minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin, has been discussing whether and, if so, how the matter can be implemented. The final results of the panel are expected by April 2023, on the basis of which the Senate intends to decide on how to proceed. This applies regardless of the re-election to the House of Representatives on February 12.
According to the Commission paper, many detailed questions are still open, and there are also different assessments within the committee on a number of points. This concerns, for example, the question of how the amount of compensation is to be assessed. It is disputed whether and to what extent the market value must be considered or not: This takes into account, for example, increases in the value of real estate that are based on market developments and speculation.
Alternative approaches are “still quite open” in the commission, the paper says. The alliance “German Reside & Co expropriate” as the initiator of the referendum favors the so-called earnings value, which is based on rental income and is likely to be lower than the market value. The bandwidth of previous cost estimates for a socialization of more than 200,000 apartments is in the political sphere between 7.3 and 36 billion euros .
The “Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co” initiative welcomes the results
Another contentious issue among experts is what criteria will be used to decide who should and should not be expropriated. Because it is a matter of “unequal treatment of comparable circumstances” that must be regulated in accordance with the constitution. It is also unclear whether and to what extent socialization is an encroachment on basic rights or a “realization of democratic rights”.
The initiative “Deutsche Wohnen & Co expropriate” evaluated the interim results of the expert commission as “the green light for the expropriation of large, profit-oriented real estate groups”, said spokeswoman Isabella Rogner. The Senate must now immediately present a roadmap for socialization. The left, as a supporter of expropriations, also sees itself strengthened: “Best news of the week! If not of the month!”, Social Senator Katja Kipping tweeted.
The Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey pointed out on the RBB Inforadio that it was only an interim report and that a lot was still unclear. This includes the central question of whether Article 15 of the Basic Law, which allows socialization under certain circumstances, is also applicable in the specific case in Berlin. A political decision on how to proceed will be made after the final report.
The CDU parliamentary group criticizes the debate: “Berlin’s housing problem cannot be solved with expropriations, but with tenant protection and new construction,” said the spokesman for construction and housing, Dirk Stettner.