Now official! Only small apartments for singles

By Stefan Peter

Will this really alleviate the housing shortage? When renting a state-owned apartment, singles in Berlin should only get small apartments. The Senate officially announced this on Monday.

There is a shortage of tens of thousands of apartments in Berlin – and this will hardly change due to the lack of new buildings. Black-Red is now trying to impose stricter requirements when allocating apartments: “An appropriate ratio of household and apartment size is ensured when renting and re-letting in order to make the best possible use of the existing housing stock,” says a cooperation agreement between the Senate and the six state-owned housing associations and Berlinovo.

BZ wanted to know what the flexible term “appropriate” actually means. Answer from the building administration: “Families should move into large apartments – small apartments should be reserved for singles. It will always be a specific decision on a case-by-case basis and there will be no specifications per apartment size or number of tenants.”

According to which criteria this decision is made, what is small and what is large – there is no answer to these questions. An initial version of the cooperation agreement stated that there would only be one room per resident. This passage was replaced by the wishy-washy rule. The agreement applies from 2024. When asked by the BZ, none of the six housing associations wanted to say how many small apartments actually belong to the portfolio.

► What else is changing: Tenants from Berlinovo, Degewo, Gesobau, Gewobag, Howoge, Stadt und Land and WBM are facing “very moderate rent increases”. The existing rents can be increased by 2.9 percent per year. “This value is 40 percent below the legal upper limit, 20 percent below the limits agreed in the Alliance for New Housing and Affordable Rents and 45 percent below the increase in the rent index,” says the Senate.

There is also an “affordability promise”: low-income households receive no or only a very small rent increase. The rent burden will be significantly reduced from the current 30 to 27 percent of household income in the future. However, this only applies to the almost 360,000 state-owned apartments.