Berlin could hold referendum on mega landlords
A referendum banning excessively large landlords could be held in Berlin to combat the inexorable rise of rental prices for apartments. The proposal would allow residents of the city to vote on making it illegal for a single company to own more than 3,000 flats. It’s thought this could lead to the re-nationalization of nearly 200,000 apartments in a city where 85 percent of all residents rent, rather than own their home. One landlord being singled out is Deutsche Wohnen, which controls 110,000 flats in the city. CityLab reports that the company is notoriously skillful in getting around rent-control laws. Most of these privately owned buildings were once publicly held and Berlin mayor Michael Muller has made says gaining back public housing is a top priority. But buying back apartment buildings would be an expensive undertaking as the Berlin’s residential stock has gone up 20.5 percent in price over the past two years, according to The Independent. Activists working to force the referendum will have to collect 20,000 signatures within the next six months.