Rent protector calls for a breather in Munich: "We need a rent freeze"
Created: 2022-12-16 06:16
By: Sebastian Hölzle
New contract rents in Munich have risen by more than 50 percent within ten years.
(symbol photo) © Fotostand/K.
The chairwoman of the DMB tenants' association in Munich in a Merkur interview why Munich urgently needs a rent freeze - and that alone is not enough.
Munich – Something unusual is currently happening on the Bavarian real estate market: sales are falling, projects are being postponed, purchase prices are falling.
Inflation and uncertainty in the wake of the Ukraine war have left their mark.
What does this mean for prospective buyers?
How is the real estate market doing?
Beatrix Zurek is the first chairman of the DMB tenants' association in Munich. With around 68,000 members, it is one of the largest tenants' associations in Germany.
Beatrix Zurek also knows the peculiarities of the Munich housing market from a different perspective: Until 2016, Zurek was a volunteer city councilor and part of the SPD faction in the Munich city council.
Interview with a rent protector: "We need a rent freeze"
Price increases are nothing new for tenants: Within ten years, new contract rents in Munich have risen by over 50 percent, and things are hardly better in the surrounding area.
Why is that?
The root of the problem are regulations in laws that have mapped out this price spiral in recent years.
What regulations are you referring to?
Let's take the so-called local rent.
It is defined by the rents that have been newly agreed and changed over the past six years - whereby "changed" in Munich always means "increased".
Conversely, this means that existing rents do not play a role in the local comparative rent.
After all, there are sensible landlords who don't increase their rents at high speed.
Unfortunately, these comparatively cheap rents are not breaking through.
What is the consequence?
The price spiral turns faster and faster when landlords base rent increases or new contracts on the usual local rent, which is the benchmark for the legality of a rent increase.
We're glad that the observation period is now six years instead of four, but that's not enough.
What do you think needs to be done?
We need a rent freeze for six years.
This gives everyone a breather and gives politicians the opportunity to remove legal hurdles and improve the housing situation within this period.
Rent protector puts her hopes in the planned non-profit housing law
Isn't the housing situation the real problem?
The demand in Munich is high, the supply is low - the rents are rising accordingly.
No, mathematically the lack of supply is not the problem.
In the 1960s, a person in Munich had an average of 20 square meters at their disposal.
If that were still the case, there would be enough living space for everyone.
Now it's an average of 47 square meters.
What has decreased is the number of publicly funded apartments.
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What conclusion do you draw from this?
Not one measure solves the problem, we have to develop a huge package of measures, and that takes time - so only a rent freeze helps in the short term.
What measures could the federal government take?
For example, we have high hopes for the planned Non-Profit Housing Act.
What is behind it?
By granting tax breaks, non-profit housing companies would have an easier time creating affordable housing.
Building permits are currently declining dramatically.
Do you really think that such a law will solve all problems?
We need a lot of measures and the new non-profit housing scheme is a lever.
The good thing would be: if housing is created at all, it will be in the non-profit sector.
Of course, it is clear to me that socially oriented property developers are also currently struggling with rising construction costs, so I'm not naïve.
But I would prefer that in the future apartments be built in the affordable segment and not in the luxury segment.
Not only Munich has to act - there is also a need for action at Bavarian level
Do you also see a need for action at the level of the Free State?
The Free State must do what it announced – namely build apartments with BayernHeim.
Unfortunately, it is and remains an inglorious story that GBW was sold with its 33,000 apartments throughout Bavaria.
BayernHeim was founded as a consolation, but so far only around 70 new apartments have been built.
The majority of the BayernHeim apartments are simply bought.
What levers does the Free State still have?
In the context of housing subsidies, he would have to get involved more reliably.
I understand housing companies that are reluctant to build new buildings because they don't know whether there will still be subsidies in the years after 2025.
What should be done at the local level?
In the development plans, the city of Munich must ensure that affordable living space is created – fortunately, this is happening.
Interestingly enough, you did not explicitly mention the topic of densification and taller buildings, although both topics are discussed very emotionally.
There are infinitely many adjustment screws where something needs to be done.
But of course you have to check where you can re-densify or where the attic can be expanded.
"If you live alone, you don't need a 100 square meter apartment, 50 square meters is easily enough."
Is Munich special when it comes to resistance to densification and taller buildings?
When I talk to my colleagues in the German Tenants' Association, that seems to be the same problem in other cities.
But I'm actually always fascinated by people from Munich, who rave about their trips to Rome or Barcelona, where eight-story houses are the norm - and they're not concrete blocks!
But the same people don't want these houses in their own town.
Living in Munich shouldn't be like in Tokyo, but of course we have to build higher.
Do you see the danger that Munich residents will move further into the surrounding area, dormitory towns will develop there and Munich will become a pure work town?
In general, it would be good to see the subject of housing holistically.
The provision of schools, day care centers, infrastructure and and - that is all part of housing policy.
It's about much more than square meters of living space.
By the year 2040, the city of Munich expects an annual increase in population of 0.71 percent, which corresponds to a total increase of 16 percent to 1.8 million inhabitants.
Does Munich even have the capacity for that many people?
We just have to all get together a little bit.
It can't be that someone who is born now shouldn't have the right to live in Munich.
If you live alone, you don't need a 100 square meter apartment, 50 square meters is easily enough.
Families urgently need the larger apartments.
If everyone just insists on their selfishness, we won't make this change of heart.
Interview: Sebastian Hölzle
Interview: Sebastian Hölzle