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New housing figures
The German Tenants Association has been issuing dire warnings about the looming housing crisis in Germany, while new figures released by the federal statistics office show a different housing picture than had been previously understood.
According to the influential Tenants Association (Deutscher Mieterbund), young families, low-earning households, students and even normal workers will shortly be no longer able to afford living in Germany’s big cities. The association’s always-feisty president Franz-Georg Rips said last week, “If politicians don’t intervene and do something about it, then we’re looking at a shortage of about one million apartments by 2025.”
The residential market was losing about 100,000 subsidised apartments annually, he claimed, and at least 140,000 new apartments need to be built annually just to tread water, he said – double the amount being built currently. His association was presenting a new ten-point plan to help rebalance things in favour of tenants following the introduction of comprehensive changes to the landlord-tenant laws in Germany at the beginning of May.
Rips’ association is demanding at least a further €10bn in government subsidies for the housing industy to encourage building and to help to dampen the steep rise in rents. The government subsidy on energy-saving improvements in housing must be increased from €1.8bn annually to €5bn, and the allowable depreciation for tax purposes needs to rise from 2% to 4%
Interestingly, ZIA Zentraler Immobilien Auschuss, the lobbying association for the real estate industry in Germany, took issue this week with official figures released by the federal statistics office Destatis, which claimed that there were 500,000 apartments more and 1.5m people less living in Germany than had been assumed, based on its latest sifting of data gathered in a property census in 2011 in an attempt to build a comprehensive national database of buildings and associated population.
At the time, many in Germany were surprised by how inaccurate and outdated the available statistics were for the country as a whole, with much data having been inherited from pre-reunification days and discrepancies between state and federal estimates of the actual building stock.
Issuing a warning designed to anticipate the likely use of the new findings by politicians and other vested interest, ZIA’s president Andreas Mattner said in a statement: “The figures demonstrate clearly that we do not have a national housing shortage, but that there are shortages in some metropolitan areas. The Federal Statistics Office needs to improve its data gathering process and keep a running total of up-to-date figures for the number of buildings and the level of population even in between the carrying-out of censuses. The real estate industry can only react to actual market demand if it can rely on trustworthy data relating to the availability of residential and commercial property”. In the light of the emotional debate surrounding rising rents and housing shortages in the run-up to this September’s federal elections, this was all the more important, he said.