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    Town that fell into a company landlord trap

    Corporate landlords don’t persist with rent controls

    In Berlin, landlords cannot raise rents on existing tenancies by greater than 10pc. But this rule isn’t sanctioned, which implies it is usually broken, in keeping with Dr Hamann-Onnertz, a managing director at Berliner Mieterverein.

    She says individual landlords typically won’t raise rents greater than 20pc. But corporate landlords, she says, will run roughshod over these rules to the tune of 50pc.

    In addition to repeatedly breaking rent cap rules, tenants have also accused corporate landlords of spending far lower than other housing providers on maintenance.

    Town’s six largest corporate landlords have spent €10.93 per square metre on repairs and maintenance lately, in keeping with an educational report commissioned by socialist lobby group Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung. That is in comparison with the €18.54 spent by state-owned housing corporations.

    Dr Hamann-Onnertz says rule-breaking rent hikes are probably the most common reason tenants who live in corporate landlords’ properties reach out for support. 

    After that, it’s maintenance issues resembling water pouring through the roof and repeatedly failing elevators.

    Corporate landlords, Dr Hamann-Onnertz says, are inclined to de-invest of their stock so shareholders can receive larger dividends.

    Renter Mr Anders says he has friends who say their “individual landlords are good and take care of them”. But those in shareholder-owned property, he says, all the time struggle to get a reliable service.

    Every Christmas “identical to clockwork”, he says the heating a few of Deutsche Wohnen’s apartments will fail and never get fixed for weeks. “It’s not even a scandal any more since it’s so predictable.”

    A spokesperson for Deutsche Wohnen said a few of its buildings are 50 to 60 years old and added that it distributes mobile radiators to tenants during times of delays.

    Earlier this 12 months, corporate housing giant Vonovia got here under scrutiny following accusations that a few of its staff had taken kickbacks from contractors in return for preferential treatment. 

    Rolf Buch, the corporate’s chief executive, admitted in March: “It appears individual employees at our subsidiaries have accepted bribes to the detriment of Vonovia — that will not be acceptable.” 

    The findings of an internal investigation overseen by Deloitte are due imminently. A spokesperson declined to comment.

    ‘These rent increases make people offended’

    High rents and a scarcity of social housing mean the town’s tenants are actually afraid of moving.

    Until this 12 months, Berlin’s social housing bands had been frozen. This summer, they were raised so those earning €2,000 a month – resembling nurses and train drivers – could actually qualify.

    Though with the shortage in state-owned homes, many are still renting within the private sector where rents feel unaffordable.

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