Because of the pandemic, many people are on short-time work or have lost their jobs completely. The Hessian tenants’ association fears a wave of apartment cancellations.
IIn the Rhine-Main area, more and more people are on short-time work, and unemployment is also increasing, ”says Eva-Maria Winckelmann. The director of the regional association of the German Tenants’ Association points out that it is no longer just employees in the catering and events industry that are affected, but also, for example, those who work at the airport and at Lufthansa. “These are people who never expected that they would be unemployed.” Winckelmann therefore assumes that in the coming year there will be a real “wave” of people who can no longer pay their rent and therefore lose their apartment.
A second reason for this gloomy forecast, according to Winckelmann, whose association represents more than 100,000 households and thus around 200,000 people in Hesse, is that only a few tenants made use of the offer in the spring of this year to have their rent deferred for three months . The federal government had made this possible for the period from April 1 to June 30, provided that tenants were affected by the pandemic. Landlords are not allowed to give notice due to these rent arrears, but the outstanding rent must be paid by June 30, 2022. Many tenants would have drawn on their reserves rather than postponing rental debts. “It hits them twice now because they have no more reserves. And if their regular salaries are at the lower limit of the median income and they therefore do not yet receive any social assistance, this is no longer sufficient in short-time work to pay the rent, ”she describes the situation, which the recent lockdown exacerbates.
The pandemic is increasingly affecting people who have previously earned well. Winckelmann names Lufthansa employees as an example, many of whom would live with other Lufthansa employees. In such a case, they would be affected twice by short-time working and at the same time would not have rented cheap apartments in good times, for example in Frankfurt or Wiesbaden. “It can happen very quickly that a couple can no longer afford the rented apartment in the long term,” she describes the consequences.
Getting help too late out of shame
This is shown daily in the advisory meetings of the Hessian tenants’ associations organized in the association, for example in Frankfurt, Darmstadt and Wiesbaden. “These are often people who are terribly embarrassed to ask us for advice. They can’t help it, many of them have never had to do with financial problems or even threatened homelessness, “explains the association director, adding:” Who would have thought that Lufthansa would get into such trouble? “Many would be affected getting help too late out of shame. This is precisely what is important in order to prevent the impending loss of the apartment. Termination is also quicker because, due to the pandemic, many landlords would “pull the rip cord” with one or two outstanding monthly rents.
That is not the only problem for tenants in the metropolitan area. According to Winckelmann, the so-called redundancies for personal use are already increasing, and this is also an effect of the pandemic. “Many landlords are no longer just trying to give notice for their own children, but also for nephews and nieces who have to move into a cheaper apartment themselves,” she says. This also affects tenants who have no financial problems at all, but then have to look for a new and often more expensive place to stay in the overheated housing market in the Rhine-Main area.
Winckelmann expects the number of resignations to rise by 15 percent in the spring. It calls on the federal and state governments to set up a housing aid fund that unbureaucratically grants rent subsidies and takeovers. Incidentally, this is also demanded by the Association of the Housing Industry, because there are also landlords who cannot service their building loans due to failed rents. “Frankfurt needs around five million euros, and 15 million euros in immediate aid should be made available for the whole of Hesse,” she says, a sum that is “a no brainer” compared to other Corona aid. If people slide into homelessness due to homelessness or become permanent recipients of social assistance, this will become more expensive for the state, warns the association director.
The association director does not yet have exact figures as to how many Hessians are acutely threatened with dismissal. Even the state government has not yet responded to a request made by the Left Party in the Hessian state parliament in September. The Left wants to know, among other things, how many private landlords waived a termination due to corona-related rent debts during the three months in the spring. It is also about how the state-owned housing association Nassauische Heimstätte is proceeding and how many tenants will be affected by the rent increase announced at the beginning of next year. “We urgently need the suspension of evictions and supply locks as well as the establishment of a rental debt fund with the financial participation of housing groups and large private landlords,” demands the deputy group chairman Jan Schalauske.