#Mots-clés : Dernière mise à jour le 7 June 2019
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GERMANY History of Towns – Heritage

Berlin as an example

Berlin is one of the most resident areas. More than 80% of families in Berlin live as tenants, basically explaining that access to lodging is still relatively easy

Major problem in Berlin, social polarization = A gap that has been created between the wealthy and the poor and this also contributed to the organization of the town, pushing the rise in demand for lodgings with moderate rents.
According to the plans of Hobrecht, who in the year 1870 was in charge to plan and develope Berlin for the next 100 years to come, the towns are structured in a way so as to reduce the cost of road construction in a maximum manner. Lands for constructions do range from 300-400 in size on 200 m in depth.

Big buildings, the famous «luxurious homes » (Mietkaserne) are well identified by their uniqueness in structure. This includes buildings of 4 stories « ailes » having an interior space. (Berliner Hinterhof). Those along the road sides are reserved for the very wealthy families. The apartments are big and ventilated by big windows from every angle. Only « suits » (Berliner Zimmer), found at the angel of the building are less appreciated for it is too big and ventilated only by a small opening at the end of the space

The three other floors do link to the interior corridor. The apartments are divided into smaller units and do not have many advantages. The other three floors a found in the inner yard the apartments are divided into smaller units, way smaller and the only source of light is the interior corridor. They are occupied by families of those who work in the industry.
Progressive architectures who are l== History of Towns – Heritages ==are into the construction of new buildings such as cooperatives .The years 1890 seeks to transform this type: in central towns or in surrounding neighborhoods, they build more compacted buildings but whose apartments are having access to day light.

.Source: Lucie Lechevalier Hurard, “Le secteur privé du logement d’utilité publique en Allemagne, Coopératives et logement communal,” Read the article on Citego’s site.

The phenomenon of long date urban decrease.

Urban decrease (or urban slimming) was identified in West Germany in the years 1980 and was also analyzed by the Länder of North Germany where this phenomenon is great .In Germany we talk of Schrumpfung. This term is also used to define population lost, jobs and riches. But this phenomenon seems ancient, already seen in works of the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 20th century, great industrial towns were those caught up in web of urban decrease.

Source : – Hélène Roth « Les villes rétrécissent en Allemagne », Hélène Roth « Les « villes rétrécissantes » en Allemagne, Géocarrefour 2/2011 (Vol. 62), p. 75-80.

Urban habitat

Rural habitat


Rights to Lodging

A law is registered in the constitution since 1919

According to Mr. Miloon Kothari, United Nations special reporter on suitable lodging, the notion on the law of lodging symbolically appeared for the first time in Constitution of the Republic of Weimar in 1919 (art. 155), at the end of the First World War.(1914-1918).

“Land sharing and its usage is controlled by the state in other to avoid misuse and assure the welfare of every German family; big families in particular, a family property comprising use, corresponding to their needs. . . (…). Thus Land acquisition is necessary so as to satisfy the needs resulting to lack of lodging, to favor  internal colonization such as clearing so as to develope agriculture, maybe expropriated.. (…). The increase in the value of land that has value without any stress will profit the masses. (…)”

Squat in Berlin Evacuated squat in Berlin Squat in Berlin – Site montesquieu Squat in Berlin – Site Cafebabel

This constitution is socially deep. The fundamental law of the Federal Republic of Germany (1949) do not take all these social advancements of Länder (Province) thereby not providing possibility of getting this inscribed in their regional constitution. Meanwhile article 13 related to non-violation of homes, provides possibilities to answer to the shortage in lodging by requisition. Today towns use this article to put in place the right of requisition so as to fulfill their obligation to lodging.

This fundamental law precises that lodging comes from a recognised competence. That is from different competent authorities: The Länders have the right to exercise if the Federal State has not put in place a law on legislative competence. In Germany only the following regions (Länder) have a law on lodging written in their constitution. : Bavière, Brême, Berlin and Brandebourg. Nevertheless the law on lodging is established by the laws in every county. In the mid-1990s, the social code stipulated that each person who risked losing their lodging has rights to assistance: be it through loans or some provisions for people in that situation. The laws of Länder (regional states) strictly obliges municipalities to provide shelter for the homeless. (Source : FEANTSA, 2012)(1).

We can also note On article 14 related to the rights of property and which precises that if this last is “guaranteed”, “its use should contribute to the collective use”.

Germany signed the revised European social Charter on the 29/06/2007, but has not yet ratified it. He has neither signed nor ratified the additional protocol authorizing collective complaints.

The 1889 law and the development of cooperatives

Bismarck created the legislative law that permitted the development of cooperative projects. This as he instituted the first ever laws on social protection some years before, two texts adopted in 1889 brought a boost to construction. One on limited responsibility of cooperators when they get themselves in collective projects. The other permits government used organisms to deposit funds collected from assurance, to the construction of lodgings, this in the form of loans. A billion cooperatives were created during that era and most of them still operate till date.

Between 1890 and 1915, cooperatives succeeded in constructing 5000 lodgings yearly in Berlin. This still remains a drop of water in the ocean looking at the lodging crises in those days. But if their contribution is limited in quantity, it is most of all the quality aspect cooperatives and their architects in the reflection to collective lodging and the archiving of innovation projects that is wonderful. It brings a critical and progressive answer “barrack homesn” in Berlin.

Source: Lucie Lechevalier-Hurard, “Des locataires allemands bien protégés.” Read the article

Forced Expulsions

Land Rights

Land Grabbing

 Interesting Practices

  • Associations tenats locataires ‘alternatives’: This is the case of Berlin with BerlinerMieterVerein. She positioned herself against privatization of lodgings, support groups of inhabitants living in privatized neighborhood but greatly governed. These associations see themselves as pioneers politically engaged, who militantly defend the rights of tenants and do create movements so as to defend these rights. Their members are known to do what is correct despite their independent nature. These associations today are clearly positioning themselves to fight against the privatization of social lodgings. Source: Fiche AITEC

  • “Hausprojekte”, collective lodgings: “Hausprejekte”, a word that can be translated to English “auto controlled houses”, are at the same time places for collective activities with an objective. They hosts concerts, expositions, and has as objective to promote the notion of “togetherness”.

  • cooperatives lodgings : Le lotissement Flöz Dickebank à Gelsenkirchen (Rhénanie du Nord- Westphalie, Allemagne) is made up of 328 lodgings that were saved from being demolished in 1974 because of the great mobilization of the inhabitants. They orientate their fight to pressure faced by the inhabitants of. Bürgerinitiative Flöz Dickebank und Umgebung .It is no longer just an association embodiment’: she has become a cooperative of lodgings founded in 2006.



Lodging and Market


« Mietspiegel » (mirror of rents) is a particular measure in Germany which contributes to major restriction to speculation

The range of rents fixes the local atmosphere as concerns the rise in price following the usage value. The rents then depends essentially on the size, the situation, the year in which the lodging was constructed. Mietspiegel a one double function: He reflects the state 0f the rental market in a geographical zone in a given time, and he strictly controls the evolution of the market, limiting the eventual rise in rents to what is already practiced in the zone. So he plays the role of a control.

The increase in rents on one hand is limited by the Mietspiegel concerned and on the other hand, cannot be more than 20 % in three years. All the increases in rents do need the accord of the tenants. The proprietors can nevertheless go to court inorder to obtain an authorized increase. The rents fixed by the new bail signed during a change in tenant can however be more than the 20% of the Mietspiegel for lodgings considered without the tenants being consulted. That is why a change in tenant is very important for most of the proprietors. The rise due to the works to modernize depends on the amelioration of the valor of living. The increase cannot be more than the actual cost and the proprietor must set up detailed deduction… These works also need the accord of the tenant.

The Mietspiegel is a real anti speculation weapon for the protection of tenants, which they largely use thanks to tenant’s association and lawyers quickly know if the increase is legal or not and can engage a court action without any difficulty against a proprietor. In fact the tenant can turn to a judge if he thinks the rents he accepted are high. (Wuchemrmiete, Art. 5 Economic Penal Code), meaning 20% of practical rents for equivalent lodging.

.Sources: Lucie Lechevalier-Hurard, “Des locataires allemands bien protégés” (read the article) + ANIL’s 2011 report “Marché transparent, marché pacifié ? Le rôle des miroirs de loyer en Allemagne”


According to CECODHAS, in 2011, only 42%of German homes were proprietors of their lodgings, (middle class European = 65%); 53% were tenants in the private market and 5% were tenants of social lodgings

(The relationship between proprietors and tenants) is extremely guided in Germany, toward favoring the tenants. The rules of the actual game was fixed in 1971 with the first ever laws on the protection of the tenants. (Civil Code art 557 and 558).

As such bail contract is for a long term. A tenants who regularly pays his rents and charges can thus envisage himself spending the rest of his life in the same apartment, or better still pass it over to his children because the bail can be inherited. Conditions as to which a proprietor can send away his tenants are strictly defined : they are limited only to when the proprietor is in need of his lodging to actually live in or the non-respect of contract by the tenants (notably two months of unpaid rents).

Since the increase in rents is strictly defined by the state, the rental market is faced with limited speculation. This certainly explains the reluctance of Germans to get property, since the condition of the tenant gives him a relatively stable situation.

Sources: Lucie Lechevalier-Hurard, “Des locataires allemands bien protégés” (read the article) + ANIL’s 2011 report “Marché transparent, marché pacifié ? Le rôle des miroirs de loyer en Allemagne”

Quality of Lodgings

Informal settlements / slums / homeless


The only eliminations of the homeless was done by independent institutions such as Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Wohnungslosenhilfe (BAG W) stated that about 500.000 persons were homeless in the country (including those repatriated).

There exists two principal legal measures concerning the homeless in Germany. Legal measures

  1. The municipalities have to provide a temporal lodging to those on the streets (people who were considered as a threat to public order.).
  2. The federal law on social aid (Bundessozialhilfegesetz – sect. 72) stands for helping the homeless get and keep a lodging. Help in formation and the search for jobs is also given. Financial aid is given to cover up the cost of the temporal lodging.

Source: The European network FEANSTA


Sectors under social lodging

The law texts do not generally speak of social lodging but “lodging subventioned by the public sector” or of “promotion of lodging”. Since 2006 it is the Länder in the provinces that have social lodgings. The local authorities have to provide lodgings to who are incapable of finding them by themselves and the Federal state is competent enough to offer aid to lodging as well as fixing the rent.

In 1989, the non-for-profit institutional sector was dissolved and a great number of important assets belonging to the municipalities went to the private market. The two actors who could provide social lodging are municipal cooperative societies and the private market.

Source: CECODHAS Report, 2012

Public Housing in Nümberg Public Housing – site Sociologics

In Germany, just like in other big Western European countries (Great Britain, France, Holland …), the states are progressively disengaging themselves off the affairs of social lodgings, for budgetary reasons. Many sectors in Germany have societies incharge of social lodging who today proceed to massive sales of the heritage so as to set fit the financial state of the locality. (1, 6 million lodgings) has already been sold. (Principally in the big towns such as Berlin, Dresde, Francfort, Leipzig, etc.). These sales are principally done in a block using the American investment funds as risk capital .These are not professionals in the lodging sector in any way. They strive to recover their investment before leaving.

As of now, we do not yet see the total impact on the tenants whose lodgings were bought. Their contracts being that of long date, they cannot be sent off their lodgings, and we also cannot notice any significant increase in their rents by the new proprietors. But the law is a new one and the effects will be felt in the future. The National Federation of Tenants states that the rise in rents is already been done.

As such voices are heard today so as to denounce the short term objectives of these “unreliable investors”: following their only horizon of rapid accountability they risk having to do and re-do the town and to have a non-mastery of the urban development. (In 2006, a referendum that was organized in Fribourg shows that 70 % of the population do wish that their municipalities remain the proprietors of the social lodgings).

Source: Lucie Lechevalier Hurard, “La privatisation du logement social communal en Allemagne.” Read the article on Citego’s website.

A group that is against the privatization of social lodgings notably in Germany, did position itself in the midst of The International Habitat Coalition: Site HIC


Bibliography & Sitography

  1. FEANTSA Network


Video of the association “ALaChaîne” : “European Coalition of Housing Rights and the Right to the City in ATHENS 21 and 22 June 2015” (Part 3)

Major Problems

According to the DEUTSCHE MIETER BUND :

  • In 2017, there will be a shortage of 825,000 rental units, primarily in major cities and university towns.
  • Rents appear to be rising faster than previously.
  • Tenants seem increasingly vulnerable to energy insecurity.

Recommendations or Propositions


  • Better the fiscal milieu so as to incite the construction of new lodgings, as well as social lodgings,
  • Adopt rules that will help in the limitation of the fixation of new rents, not more than the local rents reference by 10%.
  • Limit the rise in rents to 15% maximum in four years. This also signifies that the rents should be calculated in totality and not only for those concluded during the last 4 years.
  • In case of modernization works on a building by a proprietor, he should review the cost of care of the tenant by c 11 % , only if this renovation is on modernizing the building then only is the rise in rent is compensated by the reduction of electricity bills.

A non-exhaustive List of social movements

  • BUNDESARBEITSGEMEINSCHAFT WOHNUNGLOSENHILFE – BAG W = an association that has as objective to help people get over the stigma of social exclusion which they are currently living in. More specifically, they exert pressure on public and private organisms which can provide necessary needs (such as lodgings) to not so lucky people who are incapable of making known their rights.  BAG W websiteContact
  • KATHOLISCHE BUNDESARBEITSGEMEINSCHAFT WOHNUNGLOSENHILFE – KAG W = German federation of an institution that works with the homeless in an attempt to make their rights respected. The actions need to fall in with a global objectives..  KAG W websiteContact
  • MIETERINNENVEREIN WITTEN UND UMGEBUNG e.VV = Association of tenants from Mitten is an association that defends the rights of Witten, locality situated West of in Germany. This association exists for more than 100 years and has as major objective to promote the right to adequate lodging for all. websiteContact
  • MIETSHAUSER SYNDIKAT Created in 1992, the Miethäuser Syndikat is first of all an association of support to collective self-owned housing, but also is at the origin of the creation of a united network on self-owned projects which represents the new forms of properties jointly controlled by a counsel of inhabitants and the Mietshäuser Syndikat with the goal of non-speculation. website
  • BERLINER MIETER GEMEINSCHAFT = second organization for tenants of Berlin. The organization advices and assists members on every question related to lodging and fight to put in place a cooperation with other tenant’s organizations and a development of a vast movement of tenants. They own a great number of consultation centers in all the districts. websiteContact
  • MEDIA SPREE VERSENKEN = created to tackle Spree project, a gigantic urban project on taking care of rivers Spree (rivers that run across Berlin). In this ancient no man’s land, Media Spree wishes to erect towers, office buildings, commercial buildings of great magnitude, as well as apartments of high standing. It has as objective to open up a forum to discuss urban planning in capital cities. The word order is global. They address real aspects related to urban planning and projects… Blog
  • HABITAT NETZ = The Education Housing Association is out to promote and reinforce development in social lodging and ecology with an important participation of habitants and enforcing the international cooperation between organizations of internal residents. The actual priority of the association is as follows: Promote international exchanges and cooperation between the residents – observe the repercussions of international finance on lodging
  • – observe and criticize the housing programs.. websiteContact.
  • AG HABITAT” = Housing Forum in line with environment and development. It is an opened work group that groups non-governmental networks of organizations in Germany. The deal in Human rights durable development related issues in the domain of human establishments… websiteContact.
  • DEUTSCHE MIETER BUND – DMB =National federation of the association of tenants. The association of tenants exists since 1885. The member associations have as objective to concretely help the tenants in their rights and also to take clear measures in diversed governmental issues. The question of the privatization of social lodgings and the non-respect of the rights of the tenant as well as problems of nowadays (such as the rise in rents) power failure, very important websiteContact.