23th Live Event | Meet the Expert

“Deutsche Wohnen & Co. enteigen”
How realistic is the proposal?

The Berlin citizens’ initiative “Deutsche Wohnen und Co. enteigen” has already collected about 200,000 signatures one month before the end of the collection phase on June 25. The goal is a referendum on the socialization of private housing companies with at least 3,000 apartments in Berlin.

Is the expropriation of large housing companies the right approach in the fight against rising rents? How realistic is the proposal and what alternatives are there? These and more questions were answered live via zoom by the lawyer Mr. Mathias Hellriegel in our next real estate talk on 08.06.21!

Expert: Dr. Mathias Hellriegel LL.M.

Dr. Mathias Hellriegel LL.M. is a Berlin-based lawyer and a certified specialist for administrative law. For years, The JUVE Handbook of Commercial Law Firms has described him as a “leading partner in environmental and planning law (under the age of 50)”. According to the “Handelsblatt”’s Best Lawyers Ranking, he is one of the best lawyers in Germany in public commercial law and “WirtschaftsWoche” also lists him as a TOP lawyer for environmental and building planning law. Since 2011 he has regularly published articles in the “Immobilien Zeitung”.

You can find more information at: https://www.hellriegel-rechtsanwaelte.com/en


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Summery of the interview:

What exactly is “expropriating Deutsche Wohnen” and is expropriation even the right word?

This is not about expropriation, it is about socialisation and communitisation of housing companies. Specifically, it is about an article in the Basic Law, namely Article 15 on the socialisation of land, which in turn is opposed to Article 14(3), which deals with expropriation.

What are the chances that enough signatures will be collected?

I think that enough signatures will come together and we will then have a fourth decision on a referendum for the super elections in Berlin in September.

Why have Deutsche Wohnen and other large corporations become the enemy?

The basic tenor of the discussion, similar to the rent cap, is “free beer for all”. It is therefore not surprising that this movement is so popular. The gentrification issue affects everyone out there, no one is able find a flat and if they do, they have to dig deep into their pockets. This creates a general mood, and it must also be said that there are a few black sheep in the real estate industry who have naturally contributed to the fact that the entire industry is not currently in the best light.

Is expropriation the right way to fight rising rents?

The crucial question is: “Can this petition for a referendum succeed at all, even if it gets the necessary number of votes? Incidentally, Interior Senator Geisel could have presented this question to the Constitutional Court in this way instead of allowing the petition to be put to the vote, and it is very unfortunate that he did not do so. The constitutional question then is: “Does the socialisation of German housing companies such as Deutsche Wohnen have to be proportionate?”. There is actually a leading commentary on the Basic Law that says: “No, there is no proportionality test.” I have to say that for me, proportionality is the be-all and end-all of constitutional law.

The goals that are being pursued are quite legitimate and socialisation is certainly appropriate. But the question is: “Is it necessary or are there other means?” I say, of course there are other means. Among them is new construction, which has been criminally neglected in Berlin.

Is it possible to annul the initiative with a lawsuit if it was decided by the Berliners as a referendum?

At the moment, it is merely a political request to the Senate and not a law that could be complained about. In case of doubt, this request will fall flat, just like the successful petition to keep Tegel Airport open.

You can find the detailed answers, as well as Mr Hellriegel’s wishes if he were Federal Minister of Building, in the YouTube video on the 23rd Real Estate Talk.

14th Berlin Real Estate Talk with Lawyer Dr. Mathias Hellriegel LL.M.

New construction instead of regulation – How do we get more apartments in Berlin?


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