The number of conversions from rental to owner-occupied apartments rose to a record high in Berlin in 2021. Owners had a total of 28,595 units converted. The figure was thus significantly higher than in the past. Still in 2020, owners used the right in 19,189 cases, already a multi-year high.
A total of 119,804 apartments have been converted in Berlin since 2015. This was communicated by the Senate Department for Urban Development in response to a question from the MP Katrin Schmidberger (Greens).
Responsible for the sharp increase may have been the approaching restriction of the practice by the Senate last year. Many owners thus took advantage of the last opportunity to convert before the law came into force.
The Bundestag had decided in June 2021 with an amendment to the Building Code that the municipalities should henceforth have more leverage against conversion into condominiums. On this basis, the state of Berlin banned conversion to ownership citywide for all houses with more than five apartments.
The only exception to this is if two-thirds of the tenants would buy the four walls they occupy in the event of conversion. Special regulations also exist for estates.
This put a rather abrupt end to the previously widespread practice. Only 15 applications for conversion of a total of 340 apartments were still submitted since then, according to the Senate Department's response. Five applications for 57 apartments had been approved. For the remaining ones the procedures still ran.
"The conversion ordinance is working," Schmidberger noted with satisfaction. The spokeswoman for housing and rents of her parliamentary group had long been pushing for a broad ban on conversions. But in many cases she sees the regulation coming too late. "There is a big wave of owner-occupancy terminations rolling toward us in Berlin."
In the event of a sale, the owners would first have to offer the apartments for sale to the existing tenants of the building. For most, however, that would not be financially feasible. "Very few people can afford to buy their apartment. That's where I get very concerned," Schmidberger said.
A total of 20,550 condominiums have been resold in the past two years. Only in 1250 cases the tenants themselves would have struck, the city development administration announced.
The fact that the number of conversions could skyrocket so much last year is also due to a slip-up by the administration of the then urban development senator Sebastian Scheel (Left Party): The legal ordinance passed by the Senate came into force on August 6, but the reasons for the ordinance were not published in the official gazette until a week later on August 13.
The effectiveness of the regulation was therefore in doubt. The transformation regulation was therefore reissued by the Senate in September and did not enter into force until October 7. "As a result, some tenants lost out," Schmidberger is still annoyed.Overall, the ownership rate in Berlin's housing stock has risen slightly in recent years. As a percentage of all units, private owners accounted for 34.2 percent in 2020, the most recent year available. A total of 15.9 percent of apartments in Berlin are owner-occupied.
Photo by Tierra Mallorca