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Living Space

Alliance for Social Housing Policy and Affordable Rent

Friedrichshain; Photo:  © drsg98 -
Photo: © drsg98 -

In order to combat the increasingly narrow market for affordable living space, the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment and the Senate Department of Finance have agreed to form the "Alliance for Social Housing Policy and Affordable Rent" with the six municipal housing societies of Berlin. The Alliance was signed on 4 September 2012, is valid initially until 2016, and specifies solutions and measures with which the partners will ensure the availability of affordable housing.


Mietenbündnis wird fortgeschrieben
Press release from 10 December 2014 (in German): more


Social housing policy and affordable rent (Flyer)
Social housing policy and affordable rent
A good and secure home

Berlin is growing, rents are increasing

Especially in the sought-after inner-city areas, the demand for rental accommodation is growing faster than the supply. For this reason, the housing market surplus is dwindling ever more, and rents are rising faster than in the past decade – especially in new buildings, but increasingly also in the existing building stock. The main reasons: our city is growing. Ever more people are moving to Berlin. At the same time, more and more Berliners are living alone. Already today, 54 percent of all Berlin households are single-person households.

Strong partners take countermeasures

The goal of the housing policy of the Berlin Senate is to keep rents in our growing city affordable and to provide adequate living space for households whose income falls behind the general income trend. The diversity and character of individual neighbourhoods must be preserved. The typical "Berlin mixture" should be strengthened so that people with different income levels, of different social and cultural backgrounds, continue to live together in our residential quarters.

Berlin's municipal housing societies are core partners in implementing this urban development and housing policy. They create considerable benefits for our city by
  • consequently helping to curb rent prices through their own rent price policies,
  • playing a leading role in refurbishing buildings for energy efficiency and climate protection,
  • adapting their building stock to the requirements imposed by demographic change, and
  • actively supporting social, demographic and cultural integration in Berlin’s residential neighbourhoods.

More flats

The housing stock of the municipal societies is to grow, through purchase and new construction: from 277,000 dwellings at present to 300,000 in 2016. A larger proportion of publicly owned dwellings will help to stabilise the rent market.

In future, plots of land belonging to the State of Berlin will be allocated directly to the municipal housing societies, provided this leads to expedient building plot realignments suitable for new construction in fulfilment of the goals of the Rent Alliance.

In a pilot project, the State of Berlin will provide 14 plots upon which the municipal housing societies may carry out exemplary development projects. Through the following requirements, care will be taken to ensure that each of these projects leads to the creation of a neighbourhood that fits into its surrounding residential area in a socially appropriate manner:
  • rent spreads,
  • proportional allocation of flats to households with a certificate of eligibility to public housing ("Wohnberechtigungsschein"),
  • a contingent of small flats for single-person households,
  • a contingent of barrier-free flats, and
  • flats for families with children.

Current examples of such projects are the construction of 280 flats by degewo in Adlershof and Köpenick, the construction of approximately 350 flats by HOWOGE in Lichtenberg and the construction of approximately 270 flats by GESOBAU in Pankow.

Housing stock expansion through acquisition

Where measures to ease the housing market are advisable and suitable offers available, the municipal housing societies will acquire such residential property as expediently complements their existing stock. There are current examples of such measures as well: degewo and GESOBAU have purchased just under 4,700 flats together; STADT UND LAND has expanded its stock by 340 flats. GEWOBAG has acquired 2,100 flats, while HOWOGE has added around 1,500 flats to its stock.

Student housing

To improve the student housing situation, municipal housing societies are cooperating with the Berlin student services (Studentenwerk Berlin) and the departments for social issues of the students’ councils of the Berlin universities.

The most important key points of the Rent Alliance

To provide for broad sections of the population, the municipal housing societies offer living space at affordable rents. They strive to keep their rent levels bearable following refurbishment and when concluding new contracts, as well. Lower-income households in particular should be able to find good and secure housing with the municipal housing societies. For this reason, in the Rent Alliance, the municipal housing societies have committed themselves to a discerning rent policy.
  • They limit their general rent increases in privately-funded housing to a maximum of 15 percent within four years, in so far as permitted by the Berlin rent index (Berliner Mietspiegel).
  • The municipal housing societies limit building modernisation contributions in privately-funded housing to a maximum of nine percent of expenses incurred per year. Rents should still be affordable after modernisation measures have been carried out.
  • In the case of first-time rental contracts, the housing societies will rent every second flat within the S-Bahn ring and every third flat outside it for the local reference rent ("ortsübliche Vergleichsmiete") to households which have a certificate of eligibility to public housing ("Wohnberechtigungsschein" or "WBS").
  • A joint pool of flats will make fair flat exchanges possible should a tenant require a flat at least 10 percent smaller than the one presently let. In the case of an exchange, the housing societies guarantee that the new gross warm rent ("Bruttowarmmiete" – includes net rent and all further unavoidable costs such as heating, street cleaning, etc.) will be less than the old one – all other factors such as location, furnishing, and state of modernisation being equal.
  • An individual solution will be sought for tenants who are unable, for financial or other social reasons, to bear a given rent increase.
  • Following a rent increase for a tenant household to which social criteria apply, the net cold rent (“Nettokaltmiete”) should not exceed 30 percent of the household’s net income, provided the number of household members is appropriate for the flat size and the household’s income is within the limits defined by the Federal Republic of Germany for receiving a certificate of eligibility to public housing ("Wohnberechtigungsschein").
  • If a tenant household receives social security benefits and its flat size is appropriate, rent increases will be limited to ensure that the new rent does not exceed the maximum government-provided rent benefits.
  • Hardship provisions for pregnant women and single parents who are dependent on their social environment, for senior citizens, for handicapped people, for caregivers and for sick or bereaved people ensure that other private hardships besides income issues can be taken into consideration in determining the extent of rent increases.
  • These individual solutions are also effective for those cases of social housing in which rent increases are due to the scheduled reduction of public funding.
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