Back in 2018, the tenants of Hermannstraße 48 founded the Hausverein Hermannshöfe e.V., to make the then owner an offer to buy the building. But Mrs. Schlosshauer indignantly refused. She felt it was a plot to have founded an association behind her back. And she insisted she would never sell her houses. As if. At the end of December 2020, she sold the property to Hermannshof48 Grundbesitz mbH, a limited liability company bought off the shelf at short notice, which, due to family connections, can be attributed to the network around Sahrs Immobilien from Glauchau (Saxony). The district of Neukölln informed us that it was examining the right of first refusal. In the following two months, which the short pre-purchase period offered us, we worked hard to get the chance to permanently remove our houses from the real estate market.
We mobilised and networked the housing community in order to win them over to a common struggle and held countless plenums where we discussed and made decisions together. We set up working groups based on division of labour, in which we outsourced tasks, pursued them under intense time pressure. We went in search of non-profit buyers and, together with our friends from the Mietshäusersyndikat, developed a plan to buy our houses ourselves as a community and transfer them into self-administration. To this end, we founded the Hermanes48 GmbH, which can enter into the purchase contract as a third-party buyer. and is controlled democratically by our house association. We have been working on and were able to negotiate a bank loan commitment that would have enabled us to pay long-term to guarantee socially acceptable rents so that we could all stay.
Within a few weeks you had assured us of financial support worth millions, to raise the equity for the loan through direct lending. Wow. We were left speechless! We were able to put on rallies and generate vocal press and PR coverage that mobilised a tremendous amount of support, in order to motivate politicians to exercise the right of first refusal and to address our concerns around the general plight of Berlin’s worrying rental and urban development.
Our struggle should be seen in the context of the Berlin rent movement, to which we feel a sense of belonging and commitment. We were able to convince the district that we were certainly capable of buying and that we were an organised housing community that could achieve the preservation goals of Milieuschutz (neighbourhood protection) in the long term. In this way we have followed the model of the model of the Mietshäusersyndikat and our conviction that even large houses should belong to those who live in them. At the end of February, the district issued a notice of pre-purchase in favour of our GmbH. We celebrated!