How do I report an apartment that’s been vacant for a long time?

Apartments | Report an apartment that's been vacant

Question

How do I report an apartment that’s been vacant for a long time?

I’ve noticed a couple of apartments in my building that have been empty or uninhabited for over a year.

I remember reading somewhere that apartments in Berlin can not remain vacant for longer than 3 months? Is that correct, and can anyone provide me with a link to more details about this law or regulation?

And is there an online form where I can report infractions anonymously?

Answers

  • Yes, you are correct, here are the rules. And here you can report an apartment that’s been vacant for a long time Zweckentfremdungsverbot von Wohnraum.
  • Oh wow, I kept ranting to my friends how this should be illegal. And it actually is.
  • May I ask (honest curiosity) why should that be illegal?
  • Here is why:
    • Housing is physical, which differentiates it from immaterial goods like stocks, or music.
    • Physical space in a city is limited. You can build a building only once. If that place stays vacant, this place can’t be used by anyone else (this is different from virtual resources at, let’s say, the AWS Cloud, where unused resources can be used up by other customers).
    • If regulations don’t happen, the continuation of the current situation would end up with 100% of buildings staying vacant, because this would be the optimal investment strategy, and you would be a fool not optimizing your finances doing it.
    • This is a perfect situation if you optimize resources in a computer game, but not in a city. A city needs real people living in it, shaping it, growing it, paying taxes so the city can build infrastructures like parks and kindergartens. Anything that disturbs this ecosystem is detrimental to the economical health of the city, so it’s in the interest of the city to prevent that from happening.
    • Preventing that from happening is done by the actual people living in that city that want their city to thrive, so they elect other people to shape regulatory rules preventing people from abusing housing for non-housing purposes, or buying back properties from huge investors so they are owned by the city again.

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