The campaign in Berlin to drive a stake through the heart of large German residential landlords moved into its second phase last week, when the Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co. movement began collecting signatures in its petition to cut large housing owners down to size.
The goal is to expropriate the holdings of landlords owning and managing more than 3,000 apartments in the city in return for compensation, and transfer the apartments into common ownership. At least 12 companies fall into this category, but Deutsche Wohnen, as the second-largest housing company in Germany and the owner of more than 120,000 apartments in its stronghold of Berlin, is the prime and most visible target of the protesters’ ire.
The initiative requires the support and signatures of 170,000 Berliners, or at least 7% of local inhabitants who are eligible to vote in Berlin state election – which effectively means German citizens registered in Berlin. The activists have until 25 June to collect enough signatures to demand a referendum, which would then be added to the ballot on 26 September this year, when both Berlin state elections and the German national elections take place.
In the first phase of the campaign last year, the initiative did manage to gather the required 77,000 signatures to get their campaign ball rolling, with Berlin’s Interior Ministry validating the legitimacy of the petition, after months of deliberation.