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Problems in Berlin Housing Boils Over

Posted by Hannah Raissa Marfil on Oct 07, 2015 06:10 AM EDT
Protesters Blockade Apartment Eviction more big
BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 14: Protesters demonstrate near the entrance to Lausitzer Strasse 8 to prevent the eviction of the German-Turkish Gulbol family as riot police look on on February 14, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. Several hundred protesters arrived to demonstrate in support of Ali Gulbol, his wife and two sons, who face eviction from their apartment in Kreuzberg district despite the fact that they invested EUR 20,000 into their apartment and have paid all their outstanding rent, albeit behind schedule. The case is highlighting an ongoing controversy over gentrification in parts of Berlin, where rising housing prices are luring investors and forcing long-standing tenants out. (Photo : Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The Berlin housing market is facing a difficult problem of providing residential properties to locals and European migrants.

The problem of rising home prices and rental fees, along with low housing supply amidst increasing population, are not only felt in cities such as San Francisco, New York and London, states the Wall Street Journal, Berlin is also facing the same challenge.  However, Germany's capital is up against an unusually difficult housing crisis, given that more than 40,000 new residents per year are looking for available homes in the city.  With the growing number of European migrants, officials and analysts are expecting the number of new residents to grow to around 80,000 this year. 

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The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report cited that about 12,000 housing units are expected to be completed this year, however the number is far too short to meet residential property demand.  Various factors has been identified to explain the slow rate of home construction.  This includes high construction costs, long waits to secure necessary permits, as well as the growing number of renters.  Frustrated locals have now taken to the streets to voice out their concerns and dissatisfaction with the situation.  However, one of the city officials' recent attempts in addressing the housing crisis is to mandate a rent cap. 

Reiner Wild, manager of the Berlin Tenants' Association told the Guardian last September that the rent regulation was in put in place because "we don't want a situation like in London."  There has been a steady influx of British nationals moving to Berlin, states the Guardian, given the rising home prices and high cost of living in London.  The monthly apartment rental fees in prime London areas range between £51 to £64 per square meter (approximately $78 to $98), lower than Berlin's £7.50 per square meter (approximately $11) rate. 

Berlin city officials are now looking to create more housing units to meet the growing demand.  Martin Pallgen, spokesman for the city's Department of Urban Development and the Environment told WSJ that there is "tremendous need for housing units."  However, it won't be an easy path to take, states WSJ, since large public development plans even face opposition such as the planned 5,000 apartments near the Tempelhof airport.  Still, officials are still finding ways solve the housing crisis and attract real estate developers in building residential projects for middle income Berlin locals.

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