Curbing rents and gentrification in a global city: the case of Berlin

Publication date:
Katrin Schmidberger, Member of the House of Representatives of Berlin, Spokesperson for Housing and Rental policy, Spokesperson for Tourism

In the last decade remarkable changes have taken place in the Berlin real estate market. Global developments and the 2007/2008 financial crisis led to huge demand and investment flows in the housing market. The previously low real estate prices promised huge gains. As 85% of Berlin residents live in rented properties, this globalisation and financialisation of local real estate and the housing market have resulted in a chain of problems, of which gentrification and displacement are the most worrying. The new left-leaning (red–red–green) local government is detecting and implementing regulations that tackle these developments.

As a policymaker and resident of the inner-city district of Kreuzberg, awareness of this kind of problem is fundamental. In cooperation with the Green-led district administration (Bezirk Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg), we share the goal of implementing effective political measures to counteract gentrification and displacements. The importance of this effort also arises from the commitment to the right to the city for all citizens. The affected group in this case are locals from whom the right to the city and in this case the right to housing is taken away: tenants. Having links to the fairly active local rent associations, housing initiatives and major grassroots movements, awareness of their distress, needs and concerns gets personal. Being a member of the Berlin parliament and a political representative confers an obligation to assure their rights and implement an effective policy in this area.