Berlin buys 670 private apartments to rein in runaway rents

Business | 17 Jul 2019 2:23 pm

The city of Berlin in Germany is buying up 670 apartments in a prime location from a private owner in a bid to ease mounting housing tensions in the capital, AFP reports.

Spiralling rents have become an issue for people seeking affordable housing in Berlin and in some areas rents have doubled in the last 10 years.

Last month, Berlin's city-state government moved to freeze rents for five years from 2020.

"Berlin must regain more control over its rental market. These 670 apartments are a first step in this direction," said Berlin mayor Michael Mueller in a statement after a deal was agreed Friday.

The apartments, up for sale by property-management firm Predac, are along Karl Marx Allee, built as an elegant thoroughfare through then-communist East Berlin.

Since late last year, local residents have been protesting against the selling of the flats in five huge apartment blocks to the real-estate group Deutsche Wohnen (DW). Fearing rent increases, protest marches were organized by tenants, who hung banners from near-by apartment windows, urging the city government to block the sale. After discussions between Mueller and DW, the flats will now be bought by state-owned housing association Gewobag.

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