Dear comrades, dear negotiators for DIE LINKE in the Wohnungsbündnis [housing alliance],
After we declared the election to be a #Mietenwahl [rents election], the success of our participation in government will also have to be measured by whether we are able to substantially do something to counter the rent madness.
The SPD and the governing mayor Franziska Giffey have chosen the slogan“Cooperation instead of confrontation” as the basis of the new housing policy for Berlin and linked the work of the Bündnis für Wohnungsneubau und bezahlbares Wohnen [Alliance for New Housing and Affordable Homes] to it. The Green Party also saw the alliance as an opportunity to anchor their so-called “rent protection umbrella” and, among many other demands, to enforce a moratorium on rents.
Since January, representatives of the housing industry have been negotiating with associations and representatives of the government behind closed doors in the so-called Wohnungsbündnis. With this alliance. the private sector gains privileged access to political decisions, while parliament is kept out of the loop. Now we have to make clear: this has been no way of cooperatively agreeing on effective measures.
Time and again, the construction industry points to the fact that the increase in construction costs and the interest rate turnaround have changed the fundamentals of the housing industry. Private housing companies are terminating new construction projects and announcing further rent increases. At least since the real estate group Vonovia announced further rent increases at the beginning of June – despite all the social hardship for a great deal of people in view of inflation – the general conditions have quite obviously changed. Yes, Vonovia has broken the consensus in the alliance and is planning on confrontation!
As LINKE members and sympathisers we want to make clear:
The interim negotiation statuses that have become public so far will not fulfil the housing policy objectives that were agreed upon in the coalition agreement, especially with regard to the protection of tenants, while numerous concessions are to be clearly made to the housing industry. With this in mind, we call on the LINKE leadership and our negotiators to renegotiate the following points:
- The guidelines of government action of 18.01.2022 shall be the basis of any agreement, and no agreement with the private sector should depart from this.
- Instead of the intransparent and thoughtless proposal of somehow linking rents to income, there must be a rent freeze for the duration of the legislative period.
- To counter democratic deficits, there must be a clear limitation of the responsibilities of the Housing Alliance: Sovereign tasks (e.g. the awarding of planning rights or the pre-determination of such rights) as well as guidelines for the state-owned housing companies must be excluded from the alliance.
As LINKE members and sympathisers we say:
In our view, the signing of the alliance is only possible if these points are successfully negotiated into the declaration to be signed. If the demands cannot be added, the alliance will not of any advantage in terms of housing policy and would cause more harm than good in the fight against rent madness. We need a broad, open-ended debate within the party about how we proceed.
Katalin Gennburg and Niklas Schenker
If you would like to sign this open letter, please send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Translation: Gerrit Peters. Reproduced with permission.