Syndicate wants to start a joint housing project for affordable housing

Rent and purchase prices for real estate have long since rocketed to dizzying heights. Also because affordable living space is scarce and there is too little social housing, this idea seems tempting: Buy a house that has no owner, but belongs exclusively to the residents as a communal housing project. The Wolkenburg House and the Krausfeld Estate in Bonn show that this also works without a big wallet.

The twelve residents of the residential community “Haus Wolkenburg” in Bonn-Kessenich were given notice by the landlord on June 30th. Now they are looking for a property for at least eight people, which they would like to live in according to the principle of the solidarity association Mietshäuser Syndikat (MHS).

The idea of ​​buying a house without owning it still sounds like a weird, left-wing wishful thinking that ignores the rules of the market economy. In view of 165 implemented projects based on this principle in Germany, this concept is perhaps an alternative to unaffordable living space.

Living space, not an object of speculation

The basic concept is quite simple: Several residents set up a GmbH with the MHS (51% for the residents, 49% for the syndicate) and buy a house in which the residents live as owners. They own the house as long as they live in it, and anyone who moves out loses indirect ownership. A monthly rent is paid that is well below the local square meter price. This finances the running costs and the loan removal of the house, as well as the maintenance and repair work.

The house remains permanently in the hands of the residents, who decide independently about all aspects of living together. They also help to ensure that living space does not become even more an object of speculation for the wealthy. The tenement house syndicate founded in Freiburg in 1992, which has its roots in the squatter scene, acts as a non-commercial consultant and broker. The MHS also acts as a link between the house projects throughout Germany and ensures that the houses cannot be sold by the residents and thus disappear in the long term as objects of speculation from the real estate market.

Termination due to personal use

“A year ago we told our landlord that we would like to buy his house so that we can live in it as a residential project based on the idea of ​​the tenement house syndicate,” explains Tessa Pariyar from Haus Wolkenburg. “Then he gave us notice without further ado because of our own needs.” Your house has been inhabited as a shared apartment since the 1980s. The relationship with the landlord is strained, as he hardly takes care of repairs and, according to his own statement, the house has to be maintained by the residents themselves.

At the beginning of June, the landlord had a two-story scaffolding erected in the stairwell of the house, which blocks escape and rescue routes. “We understand this measure as pure chicane, because the urgency of the matter is not recognizable,” says the Wolkenburg house project on Facebook. “We have already looked at many properties in Bonn and we have a specific house in prospect,” says Hamza Smaiti, “but to be on the safe side, we have all rented rooms from June onwards, which we can cancel at short notice as soon as our house project becomes a reality . “

Coexistence as an enrichment

Twelve residents from Germany, Nepal, Morocco and Bulgaria live in the previous tenement, whose daily routines as a carpenter, bicycle courier, student or office worker are fundamentally different. But what they all have in common is the desire for self-determined living space and acceptable rents.

According to an overview of the city’s net rents for 2020, the statistical average rent is between 6.75 euros / m² (simple location, built in 1955, not refurbished) and 11.40 euros / m² (Wilhelminian style house, very good residential area, refurbished). However, if you take a look at the rental offers in Bonn on various real estate portals, you will hardly come across a basic rent of less than 10 euros / m², regardless of which district you are looking for.

“It is of course difficult to give specific figures at the moment, as we have not yet signed a sales contract,” said Pariyar. “But we hope that we can end up at around 350 euros per room, including of course the common areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, living area and garden.”

Tessa Pariyar, daughter Shanti and Hamza Smaiti in the garden of their community house in Bonn. (Source: Klaas Tigchelaar)

Direct loans determine the rent

In order to get equity for the large loan at the bank, one relies on small private loans from 500 euros. These can be brokered with an interest rate between 0 and 2 percent to be agreed and set up for a limited or unlimited period. The repayment is always made in full, the period for repayment is six months for amounts up to 50,000 euros, and one year for amounts above.

“The higher the equity share when buying a house, the lower the rents for the residents,” calculates Johannes von Hausprojekt, who does not want to read his surname in the press. Banks such as the joint bank GLS regularly arrange loans for such house projects, “but there have also been a few houses that could be financed with a loan from the local savings bank,” adds Pariyar.

Flat sharing, but also business

Ultimately, the more living space the house has, the more people can move in. There are enough potential new roommates available, the residents are in lively exchange via social media with other housing projects, real estate providers, but also with people who are interested in the concept in view of rising rents.

For Haus Wolkenburg’s new project, new residents must of course have a certain affinity for a flat share: “Whether someone is allowed to move in depends a lot on their sympathy, we ultimately decide together in plenary,” says Smaiti. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a shared apartment to realize the project idea. On the “Grethergelände” in Freiburg, the cradle of the tenement syndicate, there are also various apartments, a beach café and a radio station. The Handwerkerhof Ottensen in Hamburg as a farm community with 15 trades was also designed after the purchase in 2011 on the basis of the principles of the social association of the Mietshäuser Syndikat.

Good Krausfeld

And while the residents of the future house in Wolkenburg are still looking for the right building, Gut Krausfeld has settled in the old town as a solidarity housing project, for which the purchase contract was signed in August 2020.

Here, too, the tenement house syndicate was involved in the realization, 9 residents between 25 and 40 years of age live there together who “are in different phases of life and are active in various social and professional fields”, according to its own website.

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