Full text: A good and secure home

A city worth living in

A good and secure home Social housing policy and affordable rent


© SenStadtUm

Dear Berliners,
Berlin is becoming ever more interesting in its role as the German capital and as a prime location for culture, education, science and research. People from all over the world visit our city as tourists, stop here for a longer sojourn or decide to stay here permanently. This is a great enrichment for our city life. It creates jobs, strengthens our future prospects and allows our city to grow. However, these manifold opportunities are accompanied by certain side effects, primarily affecting the housing and real estate market. Growth makes prices rise. Rents in our city are still far from those charged in other German cities or European metropolises. Yet still the currently occurring price increases, to be observed with contracts for new property in particular, are a cause for concern. They cause a decrease in the supply of inexpensive rental dwellings, upon which those households in particular are dependent which due to their personal or family situation cannot currently profit from the opportunities offered by our city’s growth. These rent increases limit the choice for „starting households“ which are still in a phase of education, career entry or starting a family.

As far as counteracting rent increases is concerned, the options available to the State of Berlin are limited. Conditions in the housing sector are determined by private decisions made in the financial and real estate markets. Rent, tax and zoning law is predominantly federal law. Countermeasures such as financially effective public investments, subsidies or transfer payments are restricted by Berlin’s still very difficult budgetary situation. We are not, however, completely without influence on housing and rent policy. The instruments of urban planning and building permission legislation allow us to determine what may be built where and how. Providing state-owned plots of land for building supports housing construction, and our tenancy law initiative in the Bundesrat makes proposals in defence of tenants’ interests. Our most important partners in housing policy are the municipal housing societies, which today manage around 17 percent of Berlin’s rental housing. For this reason, the Senate of Berlin has formed an „Alliance for Social Housing Policy and Affordable Rent“ with the municipal housing societies. With this brochure, I would like to inform you about the most important goals and topics of this alliance. Yours sincerely,

Michael Müller Senator for Urban Development and the Environment


Alliance for Berlin

© Verband Berlin-Brandenburgischer Wohnungsunternehmen e.V. (BBU)

In order to combat the increasingly narrow market for affordable living space, the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment and the Senate Department of Finance have agreed to form the „Alliance for Social Housing Policy and Affordable Rent“ with the six municipal housing societies of Berlin. The Alliance was signed on 4 September 2012, is valid initially until 2016, and specifies solutions and measures with which the partners will ensure the availability of affordable housing. Berlin is growing, rents are increasing Especially in the sought-after inner-city areas, the demand for rental accommodation is growing faster than the supply. For this reason, the housing market surplus is dwindling ever more, and rents are rising faster than in the past decade – especially in new buildings, but increasingly also in the existing building stock. The main reasons: our city is growing. Ever more people are moving to Berlin. At the same time, more and more Berliners are living alone. Already today, 54 percent of all Berlin households are single-person households.

Senator Michael Müller (Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment) and member of the board of directors Maren Kern (Verband Berlin-Brandenburgischer Wohnungsunternehmen e.V., Federation of housing companies and cooperatives in Berlin and Brandenburg) at the signing of the Rent Alliance with the board members and managements of the six municipal housing societies Hendrik Jellema (GEWOBAG), Stefanie Frensch (HOWOGE), Jörg Franzen (GESOBAU), Lars Ernst (WBM), Frank Bielka (degewo) and Ingo Malter (STADT UND LAND)

Strong partners take countermeasures The goal of the housing policy of the Berlin Senate is to keep rents in our growing city affordable and to provide adequate living space for households whose income falls behind the general income trend. The diversity and character of individual neighbourhoods must be preserved. The typical „Berlin mixture“ should be strengthened so that people with different income levels, of different social and cultural backgrounds, continue to live together in our residential quarters. Berlin’s municipal housing societies are core partners in implementing this urban development and housing policy. They create considerable benefits for our city by „„ consequently helping to curb rent prices through their own rent price policies, „„ playing a leading role in refurbishing buildings for energy efficiency and climate protection, „„ adapting their building stock to the requirements imposed by demographic change, and „„ actively supporting social, demographic and cultural integration in Berlin’s residential neighbourhoods. Quartieren engagieren.

Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung und Umwelt Senatsverwaltung für Finanzen




More flats The housing stock of the municipal societies is to grow, through purchase and new construction: from 277,000 dwellings at present to 300,000 in 2016. A larger proportion of publicly owned dwellings will help to stabilise the rent market. In future, plots of land belonging to the state of Berlin will be allocated directly to the municipal housing societies, provided this leads to expedient building plot realignments suitable for new construction in fulfilment of the goals of the Rent Alliance. In a pilot project, the state of Berlin will provide 14 plots upon which the municipal housing societies may carry out exemplary development projects. Through the following requirements, care will be taken to ensure that each of these projects leads to the creation of a neighbourhood that fits into its surrounding residential area in a socially appropriate manner: rent spreads, „„ proportional allocation of flats to households with a certificate of eligibility to public housing (“Wohnberechtigungsschein”), „„ contingent of small flats for single-person households, a „„ contingent of barrier-free flats, and a „„ for families with children. flats



© degewo

Current examples of such projects are the construction of 280 flats by degewo in Adlershof and Köpenick, the construction of approximately 350 flats by HOWOGE in Lichtenberg and the construction of approximately 270 flats by GESOBAU in Pankow. Housing stock expansion through acquisition Where measures to ease the housing market are advisable and suitable offers available, the municipal housing societies will acquire such residential property as expediently complements their existing stock. There are current examples of such measures as well: degewo and GESOBAU have purchased just under 4,700 flats together; STADT UND LAND has expanded its stock by 340 flats. GEWOBAG has acquired 2,100 flats, while HOWOGE has added around 1,500 flats to its stock. Student housing To improve the student housing situation, municipal housing societies are cooperating with the Berlin student services (Studentenwerk Berlin) and the departments for social issues of the students’ councils of the Berlin universities.


The most important key points of the Rent Alliance To provide for broad sections of the population, the municipal housing societies offer living space at affordable rents. They strive to keep their rent levels bearable following refurbishment and when concluding new contracts, as well. Lower-income households in particular should be able to find good and secure housing with the municipal housing societies. For this reason, in the Rent Alliance, the municipal housing societies have committed themselves to a discerning rent policy. „„ They limit their general rent increases in privately-funded housing to a maximum of 15 percent within four years, in so far as permitted by the Berlin rent index (Berliner Mietspiegel). „„ municipal housing societies limit building modernisaThe tion contributions in privately-funded housing to a maximum of nine percent of expenses incurred per year. Rents should still be affordable after modernization measures have been carried out. „„ the case of first-time rental contracts, the housing sociIn eties will rent every second flat within the S-Bahn ring and every third flat outside it for the local reference rent (“ortsübliche Vergleichsmiete”) to households which have a certificate of eligibility to public housing (“Wohnberechtigungsschein” or “WBS”). „„ joint pool of flats will make fair flat exchanges possible A should a tenant require a flat at least 10 percent smaller than the one presently let. In the case of an exchange, the housing societies guarantee that the new gross warm rent (“Bruttowarmmiete“ – includes net rent and all further unavoidable costs such as heating, street cleaning, etc.)


will be less than the old one – all other factors such as location, furnishing, and state of modernisation being equal. „„ individual solution will be sought for tenants who are An unable, for financial or other social reasons, to bear a given rent increase. „„ Following a rent increase for a tenant household to which social criteria apply, the net cold rent (“Nettokaltmiete”) should not exceed 30 percent of the household’s net income, provided the number of household members is appropriate for the flat size and the household’s income is within the limits defined by the Federal Republic of Germany for receiving a certificate of eligibility to public housing (“Wohnberechtigungsschein”). Appropriate flat sizes and the calculation of net household income are defined in this brochure from page 10 onward. „„ a tenant household receives social security benefits and If its flat size is appropriate (see appropriate flat size table from page 10 onward), rent increases will be limited to ensure that the new rent does not exceed the maximum government-provided rent benefits. „„ Hardship provisions for pregnant women and single parents who are dependent on their social environment, for senior citizens, for handicapped people, for caregivers and for sick or bereaved people ensure that other private hardships besides income issues can be taken into consideration in determining the extent of rent increases. „„ These individual solutions are also effective for those cases of social housing in which rent increases are due to the scheduled reduction of public funding.


When is a rent increase limitation possible? What constitutes appropriate flat size for this purpose? How is net household income calculated? As part of their contribution to the Rent Alliance, when implementing rent increases, the municipal housing societies have committed to limiting the net cold rent (“Nettokaltmiete”) to no more than 30 percent of the tenant household’s net income, provided the household in question lives in a flat of appropriate size and the household’s income does not exceed the limits set forth uniformly for the Federal Republic of Germany in the federal housing promotion act (Wohnraumförderungsgesetz, WoFG). Appropriate flat sizes according to size of household Single-person household no more than 	 45 m² Two-person household no more than 	 60 m² Three-person household no more than 	 75 m² Four-person household no more than 	 85 m² Each further household member an additional maximum of 	 12 m² In cases where the flat is larger than the permitted limit for the size of the household, no rent limitation is possible. Income limits For the intents and purposes of determining the application of rent limitation, household income is the total income of a household as calculated according to sections 20 – 24 of the federal housing promotion act (Wohnraumförderungsgesetz, WoFG). In WoFG section 9, the income limit (net income per year) is determined to be for a single-person household	 12.000,00 Euro for a two-person household	 18.000,00 Euro additionally for each further household member	 4.100,00 Euro For each child, the limit is raised by 	 500,00 Euro


Calculation of net household income Household income is calculated strictly according to sections 20 – 24 of the federal housing promotion act (Wohnraumförderungsgesetz, WoFG). The exact wording of this law can be found (in German) on the website of the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment (www. wohnen.shtml). The first step is to determine the yearly income of all household members at the time of the rent increase. The components of yearly income are defined in sections 21 and 22 of the housing promotion act. From this yearly income, a blanket sum of 10 percent is deducted for taxes owed on income and compulsory contributions to health, long-term care and state pension insurance (WoFG section 23), provided household members are liable to taxation. In the case of persons with a severe disability, young married couples (up to the fifth calendar year following marriage for spouses who are not older than 40), children and persons with a maintenance obligation regulated by law, further deductions are made (details in WoFG section 24). If the net household income calculated in this way is not higher than the income limit given in the table above (taken from WoFG section 9 paragraph 2) and if the rent increase will result in a net cold rent which is higher than 30 percent of the net household income, then the household can probably claim a rent increase reduction. For an exact calculation of their income and to provide proof of their status, households wishing to make use of this agreement should contact their municipal housing society landlord. There is, however, no legal entitlement to these benefits.

Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment Section IV - Housing, Urban Renewal, Socially Integrative City Württembergische Straße 6 10707 Berlin Exhibition and Information Centre of the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment Am Köllnischen Park 3, 10179 Berlin U-Bahn lines U2, Märkisches Museum, U8, Jannowitzbrücke or Heinrich-Heine-Straße S-Bahn lines S5, S7, S75, Jannowitzbrücke Bus lines 147, 248, 265, U-Bhf. Märkisches Museum Exhibition room of the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment Württembergische Straße 6, 10707 Berlin U-Bahn lines U3, U7, Fehrbelliner Platz Bus lines 101, 104, 115, Fehrbelliner Platz

Titelbild: © Nikolaus Fürcho

Kommunikation Am Köllnischen Park 3, 10179 Berlin
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