Tens of thousands protest against “rent madness” in cities

Tens of thousands protest against 'rent madness' in cities

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in several german cities in displeasure over rising rents. Most demonstrators gathered at the nationwide protest day in berlin, where in some parts of the city there are hardly any affordable apartments left on offer.

In the capital, an unprecedented petition for a referendum on the expropriation of large housing corporations began at the same time.

The police in berlin did not want to give a concrete number of participants, but spoke of a rough order "far above 10.000". The organizers mentioned the number of 40.000 demonstrators, observers paid 20.000.

"Housing is a basic right" and "together against eviction and rent madness" were written on transparent of the demonstrators. The long and colorful demonstration moved from alexanderplatz through the expensive scene districts of friedrichshain and kreuzberg to treptow, where a real estate fair was being held in a hall. Drumming and dancing groups provided music. In addition to numerous young people, there were also a noticeable number of older people present.

People also protested against rising rents in cities such as munich, poland, dresden, gottingen and hanover. The protest alliance of tenant associations and other initiatives spoke of demonstrations in 19 cities with 55,000 participants. In european metropolises like paris, barcelona and lisbon protests were also planned.

On the fringes of the protest in the german capital, lists were displayed on tables for people to sign for the referendum. "You can see what’s going on here," said a woman in a purple vest from the petition initiative. "People are queuing up here and signing all the time.A 50-year-old said after signing: "we have to put pressure on the politicians". She has tried it with the rent brake. But that didn’t work out."

The initiators now have six months to raise 20,000 euros for the first stage of the referendum.000 signatures to collect. The petition demands that real estate companies with more than 3,000 apartments be expropriated. The state of berlin is to compulsorily buy the apartments from the companies. This could cost the heavily indebted state of berlin more than 30 billion euros. However, the petition for a referendum is not legally binding on the berlin senate. It’s just a request to pass a law on eminent domain.

Before the start of the referendum, business associations and politicians had warned against expropriation. One of the main arguments is that it will not create new living space.

SPD leader andrea nahles told "bild am sonntag" that she understands the anger at housing companies "that want to squeeze every cent out of tenants". Instead of expropriations, the SPD wants a "rent freeze and invest the available money in affordable housing, so that more apartments are built".

FDP chairman christian lindner said at the party conference of the north rhine-westphalian liberals in duisburg: "not a single new apartment will be created with expropriations." Only private investors were scared away, who could build new apartments. "I understand the people who are demonstrating for affordable housing, but they are demonstrating against the wrong people," said lindner. "They should not go to the housing companies, but to the offices of the mayors in berlin and munich and to horst seehofer’s ministry of construction."

Katrin goring-eckardt, head of the green party in the bundestag, had spoken out in favor of creating more affordable housing, which would then also have to remain affordable. She told the german press agency that the federal government would also have to spend a billion euros a year on the project. In addition, a rent guarantee is needed, which makes it possible for people to stay in their apartments. The rent brake has not had any effect.

The protests in other german cities remained smaller than in the capital. In leipzig the organizers spoke of 2000 demonstrators, in dresden of 500. According to police reports, about 300 people demonstrated in munich – significantly fewer than the organizers had expected. In stuttgart, freiburg, heidelberg and mannheim, a total of several hundred people took to the streets. In the banking city of frankfurt, 150 demonstrators took part; in hanover and gottingen, there were 70 to 80 participants in each case.


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