Save your neighbourhood – Working together to fight high rents

Many Neuköllners can no longer afford the rising rents. It’s high time for a change.

 5 things you can do: Get informed, fight back, report vacancies and holiday apartments, pull the ‘rent brake’, put pressure on the CDU/CSU and SPD!

INTRODUCTION

In the last 10 years, rents in Neukölln have more than doubled. Our homes have become objects of speculation for investors. More and more of our income goes to paying rent. Moving to another place in your own neighbourhood? Nearly impossible. The Federal Government is doing too little to combat this development. But we want to defend ourselves, fight for the diversity of our neighbourhoods and take joint action against the rent-hike insanity.

 For that reason, we’re leaving nothing untried here in Neukölln. And for that, we need informed, committed and networked tenants. Because the fight against rising rents and displacement can only succeed when we work together.

1. GET INFORMED

There are ways to fight the rent madness. But what exactly are residential environment protection, rent control, and the like?

Neukölln has now designated seven residential environment conservation areas. Expensive and therefore costly modernizations are prohibited in those areas. The district office also has the so-called right of first refusal under certain conditions and can thus prevent houses from being sold to speculators inside.

There are still empty apartments in Neukölln or ones that are rented as holiday apartments. Both factors are depriving the housing market of urgently needed rental space and are also driving up rents. By stopping misuse, illegal vacancies and rentals can be prohibited. 

Rent price control, locally known as the ‚rent brake‚, stipulates that the rent for a new lease may not exceed the standard local rent by more than ten percent. However, you yourself also have to take action against any violation.

2. FIGHT BACK

Whatever happens in your house, it’s easier with a strong house community. Talk to your neighbours, exchange ideas and especially support those without the means and strength to defend themselves.

 The first sign that a house is being sold is the visit by a real estate agent, an architect, or advertisement in a real estate portal. Contact the district office so that they can check the right of first refusal.

 When your landlord announces a modernization, don’t agree to it without thinking first and read it very carefully. You only have until the end of next month to appeal or claim a hardship case. Under no circumstances should you miss the deadline. If you live in a residential environment protected area, ask the district office whether the measures have been approved and get help in one of the free tenant consultations commissioned by the district office. We’ve compiled a list for you here.

3. REPORT VACANCIES AND HOLIDAY APARTMENTS

Apartments may not be rented out permanently as holiday apartments without a permit or be vacant for longer than three months, as they are urgently needed as rental space. The district office can act – if it knows where to do so. The online registration form can be found here. Give detailed information about the location of the apartment (e.g. „front building, 1st floor, right side“ or the link to the advertisement of holiday flat). Your data will not be disclosed to third parties.

4. PULL THE 'RENT BRAKE'

The ‚rent brake‘ does not work properly due to many exceptions. For example, very high rent is permitted if it has already been paid by the previous tenants. In addition, landlords do not have to reveal the old rent. After all, many tenants shy away from conflict with their landlords when they first move.

But there is something you can do:

 When you move out, give a copy of your tenancy agreement to the next tenants or neighbours. Also ask people moving out if you can photograph the rental contract and pass on the information to the new neighbours inside. This is the only way for them to know whether the new rent is in violation of the rent brake. This saves money and keeps the rent index in check.

5. PUT PRESSURE ON THE CDU/CSU AND SPD

With this action, we want to make greater use of the instruments available to us. But that’s not nearly enough. Many important changes can only be decided at the federal level. Call on the members of the Berlin federal government’s parliamentary groups to finally stand up and fight for a real breakthrough in affordable housing and to close the gaps in tenancy and construction laws. And take part in our email campaign.

We’ll try to support you to the best of our ability. Write us an e-mail if you have any questions: info@rette-deinen-kiez.de

Learn more about the campaign over at Radio Spaetkauf. Start @32:00min