The federal government has drawn a largely positive interim assessment of the housing offensive agreed in September 2018.
"From my point of view, the balance sheet is really impressive," said Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) in Berlin on Tuesday.
The goal of building 1.5 million apartments in this legislative period is "not out of reach".
However, this goal will not be achieved until the elections in September.
If you add up the apartments completed during the time of the grand coalition, you should get around 1.2 million units.
Nevertheless, Federal Interior and Construction Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) was satisfied with his performance as "lead housing minister", as he said.
In addition to the completed apartments, around 770,000 units are approved or in work, and some of them will be ready before the end of the current legislature.
"We are well above the trend of the past few years," said Seehofer.
The federal government met on Tuesday with representatives of the federal states and municipalities, with experts and associations to talk about the housing market and the resolutions of the housing summit held in September 2018.
While Merkel, Seehofer, Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Federal Justice Minister Christine Lamprecht (SPD) were mostly satisfied with what had been achieved, there was a lot of criticism from associations.
Some economists also see a need for further action.
Seehofer had repeatedly referred to the housing issue as the “most important social issue of our time”.
From the point of view of tenant representatives and the opposition, however, the “social” part of this question has not yet been adequately answered.
Above all, it is criticized that the number of social housing in the Federal Republic continues to decrease faster than new ones are added.
"I think we are far from the end of what is needed here," admitted Merkel.
Seehofer announced that 115,000 additional social housing would be completed by the end of the legislative period.
That was more than agreed.
Finance Minister Scholz, however, apparently sees the need for himself and made a proposal for the next federal government: "The next goal would have to be 100,000 social housing, per year," said Scholz.
Tenants' Association sees little success
Over the past two years, the federal government has introduced some changes in building and tenancy law.
Among other things, the rent brake was extended by five years and slightly improved, with more transparency obligations for landlords.
The cost allocation for modernization was reduced from eleven to eight euros, the period under review of the rent index was extended from four to six years - which has a slightly dampening effect.
The housing benefit was increased and made dynamic.
And the federal government is providing the federal states with a total of five billion euros for social housing.
The tax depreciation for the cost of building rental apartments has been increased to five percent (for four years).
Seehofer also likes to refer to the total of ten billion euros for the construction child benefit that was provided for families when building or buying their own home.
From the point of view of the German Tenants' Association (DMB), most of this has not led to more affordable apartments in the existing stock, nor to more new construction of affordable rental apartments: “Little success, above all little newly created affordable housing and hardly any new social housing, although this is urgent are needed ”, sums up DMB director Lukas Siebenkotten.
The rental price growth has actually flattened out.
But prices have also reached a level that seems to be overwhelming for many households.
This is shown by statistics from the online platform Immowelt, which, like WELT, belongs to Axel Springer SE.
Immowelt compared the purchasing power in the largest cities with the rental price level there.
The gap is huge.
In Frankfurt am Main, for example, per capita purchasing power is twelve percent above the national average.
The rents, however, exceed the price average by 83 percent.
In Berlin, citizens earn eight percent less than the national average, but pay 56 percent more rent than the national average.
What social and tenant associations and tenant initiatives think of the German government's successes on the subject of affordable housing, they demonstrated last Friday when they started a new campaign alliance “Rent Freeze”.
The requirement is: no more rent increases across Germany for six years, with the exception of new buildings.
Left wants "Viennese role model" in construction
“We also pay 30 to 50 percent of our income as rent in order to meet the return expectations of listed companies or letterbox companies in the Bahamas,” said Berlin tenant activist Lorena Jonas.
Tenants' Association boss Siebenkotten called for "drastic measures".
The alliance includes the tenants 'association, the German trade union confederation, the Paritätische Gesamtverband and some citizens' initiatives.
Even with the opposition in the Bundestag, the criticism is sometimes clear.
"With a rent brake full of loopholes and only a minimally improved regulation of the rent index, the federal government has not managed to stop the rise in rents," said the deputy chairman of the Left Group, Caren Lay.
With a "public housing program based on the Viennese model, non-profit, municipal, cooperative and social housing construction must be funded with ten billion euros a year".
"Two residential peaks and a stack of glossy brochures do not provide affordable housing," was the verdict of the Greens.
“When it comes to affordable housing, Horst Seehofer and Angela Merkel’s balance sheet is very bleak.
Real estate and building land are more expensive than ever.
The housing cost burden is enormous, and affordable housing is a huge problem for broad sections of the population, especially in growing cities and regions, ”said the building and housing policy spokesmen Chris Kühn and Daniela Wagner.
The Greens are calling for a new "non-profit housing" and have also written this into the party program for the federal election.
Green parliamentary group leader Anton Hofreiter said: "The record of Mr. Seehofer, who officially bears the title of being minister of construction, is poor."
Even the leading association of the housing industry GdW is not entirely convinced of the housing summit result.
"If there were a school grade for the implementation of the catalog of measures for more affordable housing that was adopted by the federal, state and local governments in September 2018, that would be 4.4.
In some subject areas such as the targeted limitation of building cost increases or the discounted surrender of public properties, it would even be a five, ”said the GdW, referring to a survey among the 3000 member companies.
Building land is too expensive, building costs are too high.
The housing market expert at the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (IW), Michael Voigtländer, still sees a “bottleneck” in building land.
“Municipalities have two major problems here: Firstly, many citizens resist new building land.
Second, many municipalities do not have the money to finance the necessary infrastructure for urban expansion.
The federal government could have helped with a fund here, ”says the economist.
But the landlords and the construction industry are also not satisfied with the government's work.
Above all, the construction industry criticizes the increasing regulation of rents through instruments such as the rent brake.
Together with the increasing bureaucratic burden, this development means that renting is no longer worthwhile for many small private landlords, explained the owners' association Haus & Grund.
The next federal government also has a whole book full of construction tasks and could probably hold the next residential summit in autumn.
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