Germany Confiscating Homes To Use For Migrants

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute,

  • In an unprecedented move, Hamburg authorities confiscated six residential units in the Hamm district near the city center. A trustee appointed by the city is now renovating the properties and will rent them — against the will of the owner — to tenants chosen by the city. District spokeswoman Sorina Weiland said that all renovation costs will be billed to the owner of the properties.
  • Similar expropriation measures have been proposed in Berlin, the German capital, but abandoned because they were deemed unconstitutional.
  • Some Germans are asking what is next: Will authorities now limit the maximum amount of living space per person, and force those with large apartments to share them with strangers?

Authorities in Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany, have begun confiscating private dwellings to ease a housing shortage — one that has been acutely exacerbated by Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to allow more than two million migrants into the country in recent years.

City officials have been seizing commercial properties and converting them into migrant shelters since late 2015, when Merkel opened German borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Now, however, the city is expropriating residential property units owned by private citizens.

In an unprecedented move, Hamburg authorities recently confiscated six residential units in the Hamm district near the city center. The units, which are owned by a private landlord, are in need of repair and have been vacant since 2012. A trustee appointed by the city is now renovating the properties and will rent them — against the will of the owner — to tenants chosen by the city. District spokeswoman Sorina Weiland said that all renovation costs will be billed to the owner of the properties.

The expropriation is authorized by the Hamburg Housing Protection Act (Hamburger Wohnraumschutzgesetz), a 1982 law that was updated by the city's Socialist government in May 2013 to enable the city to seize any residential property unit that has been vacant for more than four months.

The forced lease, the first of its kind in Germany, is said to be aimed at pressuring the owners of other vacant residences in the city to make them available for rent. Of the 700,000 rental units in Hamburg, somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 (less than one percent) are believed to be vacant, according an estimate by the Hamburg Senate.

Hamburg, Germany. (Images source: Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images)

Socialists and Greens in Hamburg recently established a "hotline" where local residents can report vacant properties. Activists have also created a website — Leerstandsmelder (Vacancy Detector) — to identify unoccupied real estate in Hamburg and other German cities.

It remains unclear why the landlord in Hamm left his apartments vacant for more than five years. Some have posited that, given the location of the properties, the renovation costs may have been too high and probably would not have been offset by the rental income.

Others are blaming city officials for not approving more building permits to allow for the construction of new residential units. A study conducted in 2012 — well before the migrant crisis reached epic proportions — forecast that by 2017, Hamburg would have a deficit of at least 50,000 rental properties.

In 2016, however, only 2,433 new residential units came onto the market, while only 2,290 new building permits were approved, according to statistics provided by the City of Hamburg. These numbers were up slightly from 2,192 new units and 2,041 new permit approvals in 2015.

In 2012, Hamburg's Socialist government presented a plan to build 6,000 new residential units per year. The plan never materialized, however, because prospective builders were constricted by government-imposed rental caps which would have made it impossible for them to even recover their construction costs.

Since then, the city has turned to seizing private property to resolve its self-inflicted housing crisis.

On October 1, 2015, the Hamburg Parliament (Hamburgische Bürgerschaft) approved a new law that allows the city to seize vacant commercial real estate (office buildings and land) and use it to house migrants.

City officials said the measure was necessary because, at the time, more than 400 new migrants were arriving in Hamburg each day and all the existing refugee shelters were full. They said that because the owners of vacant real estate refused to make their property available to the city on a voluntary basis, the city should be given the right to take it by force.

The measure was applauded by those on the left of the political spectrum. "We are doing everything we can to ensure that the refugees are not homeless during the coming winter," said Senator Till Steffen of the Green Party. "For this reason, we need to use vacant commercial properties."

Others have argued that efforts by the state to seize private property are autocratic and reek of Communism. "The proposed confiscation of private land and buildings is a massive attack on the property rights of the citizens of Hamburg," said André Trepoll of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU). "It amounts to an expropriation by the state." He said the proposed measure is a "law of intimidation" that amounts to a "political dam-break with far-reaching implications." He added: "The ends do not justify any and all means."

Katja Suding, the leader of the Free Democrats (FDP) in Hamburg, said that the proposed law is an "unacceptable crossing of red lines... Such coercive measures will only fuel resentment against refugees."

Similar expropriation measures have been proposed in Berlin, the German capital, but abandoned because they were deemed unconstitutional.

In November 2015, lawmakers in Berlin considered emergency legislation that would have allowed local authorities to seize private residences to accommodate asylum seekers. The proposal would have authorized police forcibly to enter private homes and apartments without a warrant to determine their suitability as housing for refugees and migrants.

The legislation, proposed by Berlin Mayor Michael Müller of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), would have amended Section 36 of Berlin's Public Order and Safety Law (Allgemeine Gesetz zum Schutz der öffentlichen Sicherheit und Ordnung, ASOG), which currently allows police to enter private residences only in extreme instances, to "avert acute threats," that is, to fight serious crime. Müller wanted to expand the scope for warrantless inspections to include "preventing homelessness."

The proposal was kept secret from the public until the leader of the Free Democrats (FDP) in Berlin, Sebastian Czaja, warned the measure would violate the German constitution. He said:

"The plans of the Berlin Senate to requisition residential and commercial property without the consent of the owner to accommodate refugees is an open breach of the constitution. The attempt by the Senate to undermine the constitutional right to property and the inviolability of the home must be resolutely opposed."

Since then, both the mayor's office and the Senate appear to have abandoned their plans.

Following an investigation, Gunnar Schupelius, a columnist with the Berlin newspaper BZ, wrote:

"A strange report made the rounds at the weekend: The Senate would authorize the police to enter private homes to house refugees, even against the will of the owner. I thought it was only satire, then a misunderstanding, because the Basic Law, Article 13, states: 'The home is inviolable.'



"So I went on a search for the source of this strange report and found it. There is a 'proposal' which the Senate Chancellery (Senatskanzlei) has apparently circulated among the senators. The Senate Chancellery is another name for the mayor's office. The permanent secretary is Björn Böhning (SPD)...


"The proposal is clear: The police can enter private property without a court order in order to search for housing for refugees when these are threatened with homelessness. You can do that 'without the consent of the owner.' And not only should the police be allowed to do this, but also the regulatory agencies.


"This delicate 'proposal' attracted little public attention. Only Berlin FDP General Secretary Sebastian Czaja spoke up and warned of an 'open preparation for breach of the constitution.' Internally, there should have been protests. The 'proposal' suddenly disappeared from the table. Is it completely gone or will it return?"

It remains unclear why no one has challenged the constitutionality of Hamburg's expropriation law.

Meanwhile, some Germans are asking what is next: Will authorities now limit the maximum amount of living space per person, and force those with large apartments to share them with strangers?

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EuroPox's picture

One of the few bona fide roles of the state is the protection of private property.  If the state won't do it, then everyone needs more guns to protect their own property.

SilverRhino's picture

The god damned Nazis fucking WON. 

philipat's picture

This kind of nonsense in a Libtard contolled Hamburg perhaps explains why Zee Germans voted for Merkel's party in droves over the weekend? Sometimes its difficult to know which is more fucked up, Germany or The US.

Ghordius's picture

philipat, Merkel's party, the CDU, is the German equivalent of the British Conservatives and the American Republicans

what did you expect, together with nearly all commenters here? a big victory for AfD?

meanwhile, Germany has no "Libtards". the big losers were the Social Democrats

what is really fucked up is not Germany, it's the political understanding of ZH's commentariat

Vageling's picture

It's Gatestone. The mistake they made is doing an article about something very close to home (for me) which I know the facts of and saw how they distorted that. And it's pointless to point out European politics are not comparable to US politics. We would more call them socialist or greenies then liberals. 

Common_Law's picture

Apparently Germany is still 100% controlled by the allies. The former head of the German defence dept. MAD revealed an 1949 treaty giving the allies full control over all German affairs including media and education until 2099. You can search for it with "Germany secret treaty"

Ahmeexnal's picture
House them in the Reeperbahn!
hongdo's picture

Whatever.  I was scheduled to fly into Hamburg AUG 2 for Wacken.  Just another reason not to go.  I'm going to Sri Lanka instead. If anyone wants my 2 All-In Wacken tickets, first one to give me an address to send them to gets them.

MalteseFalcon's picture

In reality slumlords own apartments not fit for rental and then the government barges in, fixes the apartments, rents them out at taxpayer expense and hands the rent to the slumlord.

Throw me in the brier patch,

hongdo's picture

So you think you are one of those who will get according to your needs instead of one who will give according to their abilities in that brier patch?  Governments accept donations of additional tax payments. Go for it.

As I read it the gov takes over the apt, fixes it up to code, sends the bill to the landlord, rents it out at a gov allowed rent which the landlord gets and I bet he loses money. If the landlord could have made money by fixing it up and renting it out he would probably have done it. 

I've been a landlord and it's tough to make money by cash flow vice appreciation.

sleepingbeauty's picture

The article did not mention who gets the bill for the renos. If the state covers it, as a landlord I think I would let them. And then I would submit a constitutional challenge after the renos are done and they move migrants in.

hongdo's picture

"District spokeswoman Sorina Weiland said that all renovation costs will be billed to the owner of the properties."

"In 2012, Hamburg's Socialist government presented a plan to build 6,000 new residential units per year. The plan never materialized, however, because prospective builders were constricted by government-imposed rental caps which would have made it impossible for them to even recover their construction costs."

Sounds like a gov mandated cash flow loss to me given rental caps.  I passed on a property a while ago as the renovation cost estimate given to me was $200K on a $600K purchase cost. Not a money maker.  And that was not even the builder brother-in-law of the mayor.  Who do you think gets these no-bid contracts? 

Constitutional challenge?  You got the big bucks for that?  Few hundred K for lawyers and few years while you hope a tenant does not burn the place down which one of mine did making french fries.

This is not like some places.  A friend got the UK gov to pay for his thatched roof in England as he had an historical relic house.

So no takers on the Wacken tickets? No one else wants to go either?

MalteseFalcon's picture

You missed the point about me.

The landlords will make out under this scheme.

I have no doubt.


armageddon addahere's picture

Gee I wonder why people don't want to invest in housing in Hamburg.

That's ok the government will take care of you. No doubt everything will be fine as soon as the government expropriates all privately owned housing. Just look how well it has worked out in the past.

MalteseFalcon's picture

I very much doubt if this scheme is a straight out expropriation.

Can help but feel the landlords will be made more than whole by this scheme.

trader1's picture

Ghordius - CDU is more like a hybrid of American Republicans and Democrats.  AfD/NDP are more like American Republicans.



Omen IV's picture

The Marxists not the Nazi

Zorba's idea's picture

These insane policies are anything but the Nazi's extreme goal to build a pure Aryan race. The Neo Globalist fanatic Progressives are intent on the myscegination of all European cultures. Question...who benefits?

Mr Poopra's picture

Millions of angry, broke, 20-30 year old third world males ready to be activated for the next phase in Europe.  It will be hilarious when the Germans finally realize that these are not just migrants, they're an army that they welcomed with signs, snacks, and free housing.  Not to mention all the women they can rape.  


Liberalism can destroy a nation within a generation.

Shlomo Scheckelstein's picture

And all you have to do is manipulate, deceive, bribe and stay in the shadows act as a victim. Isn't it great?

Vilfredo Pareto's picture

The victim game works well.


Someday it won't however.   

Paul Kersey's picture

Shlomo, looks like the Gatestone Institute has editorial discretion at ZH. My comment about the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians being forcibly removed from their homes in Israel, and your comment that followed, have been removed from this comments section. I've never known this to happen at ZH. Maybe the neocons really can't be stopped.

Shlomo Scheckelstein's picture

My Talmudic friends don't like the truth so much.

r3phl0x's picture

A generation? More like a year or two.

JohnGaltUk's picture

Stupid naive tenny females offering free hugs.


j0nx's picture

F Germany. They voted for Merkel's policies again over the weekend. Enjoy what's coming.

RovingGrokster's picture

Love the Golliwog icon - the single most loved and yet non-PC logo in the UK!

The Ram's picture

The British did this before the Revolution.  Fortunately, there were 'patriots' who settled the score with Brown Bess' and Kentucky Long Rifles.  The Germans have had their nads removed, so they will just let the EU remove their property.

Mike in GA's picture

All your hausen are belongin to us.

halcyon's picture

Do you have any sense of history and how inaccurate that is. Nazis deported immigrants.

This is more akkn to Bolshevik socialism leading back to non-israeli jews wanting to multiculturalize Europe.

Welcome to the new vassal state of Israel. It is payback time...


InsaneBane's picture

"Nazis deported immigrants" wrong go study the haavara agreement, they helped creating Israel. Oh the irony..Sabbatean Frankist Jews like Reinhard Gehlen

jeff montanye's picture

it is ironic that the nazis helped create israel.  via the haavara agreement and, far more, via their persecutions of jews during ww2.  that the jews would have been far safer, at war's end, in europe than migrating to israel is a further irony.  that the jews became like nazis when in israel, yet one more.

where does it stop?  the one state solution.  full israeli citizenship for all the people in the occupied territories and gaza.

InsaneBane's picture

They wan't it all..the whole world. Total control of body, soul and mind.

Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than he who is crooked though he be rich.
Proverbs 28:6

if he does not lend money on interest or take increase, if he keeps his hand from iniquity and executes true justice between man and man.
Ezekiel 18:8

kochevnik's picture

Rumor that Merkel is Hitler's daughter, from photo of them holding hands as child

r3phl0x's picture

WTF? The oldest & arguably only 100% legitimate role of the State is to protect private property rights.

When it begins to do the opposite of that, ya'll need to take to streets & get yoselfs a new one.

chubakka's picture

I thought it was oldest & arguably only 100% legitimate role of the State to just tax private property and then confiscate it if you dont pay.

r3phl0x's picture

I fully agree that the goverment is the most-successful mob, and property tax is a protection racket.

But in a protection racket, the people who pay are at least supposed to get some bloody protection.

Liberals always seem to forget about that part..

NumberNone's picture

It's the liberal and Green logic at work.  They desire to halt all construction and industry to stop the damage to 'mother earth' but at the same time are offended at the concept of borders and want to grant access to as many fellow citizens of earth as possible.  What happens when the two meet at a cross-roads of conflict?  

Of course the solution never means admitting a mistake or adjusting policy...the solution is more government intervention and control to deliver on their indisputable truths.  

sessinpo's picture

And this is where everyone goes wrong. They would like you to believe the states role is to protect your rights when in fact the state is for itself, not you.

chubakka's picture

Wow! that is so nice of the state to renovate that guys property like that!  its a win win for the landlord and the tenants who now have a place to live!  how cool!  Doesnt it just warm your liberal fucking heart?

Nexus789's picture

And the state also pays their rent via benefits as they won't be working. 

Yars Revenge's picture

Ironic that they talk of this action being unconstitutional when to this day Germany doesn't have a constitution.

They only have basic law.

Sandmann's picture

Hamburg has a Constitution as a Federal City-State

Direct Democracy's picture

Their constitution is the "Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany".  It is interesting that under Article 14 Property - Inheritance - Expropriation that expropriation of property is allowed for the "public good". 

(1) Property and the right of inheritance shall be guaranteed. Their content and limits shall be defined by the laws.

(2) Property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good.

(3) Expropriation shall only be permissible for the public good. It may only be ordered by or pursuant to a law that determines the nature and extent of compensation. Such compensation shall be determined by establishing an equitable balance between the public interest and the interests of those affected. In case of dispute concerning the amount of compensation, recourse may be had to the ordinary courts.


Vilfredo Pareto's picture

Expropriation will only be permissible for the public good.  Lol


There is no limit to how "public good" can be interpreted.


Ownership is a mirage in such a system,  and ours is no different with   eminent domain available to private entities.


Mao is right.  Power comes from the barrel of a gun, and right now we are all definitely outgunned.  

didthatreallyhappen's picture

when do the Germans get violent?

Miss Informed's picture

I don't think that is allowed. They are still supposed to be atoneing for the 6 gazillion that Hitler killed.