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German Council Confiscates Private Apartments to Use as Migrant Housing

German Council Confiscates Private Apartments to Use as Migrant Housing

Germany is still seeing the detrimental impact of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open door policy which allowed roughly two million migrants into the country.

With no place to put the refugees, German authorities in Hamburg have confiscated six residential apartments in the Hamm district to turn them into migrant housing units.

Although these units have been empty since 2012 and are in need of repair, Hamburg authorities are having the properties renovated and will rent the unit out, without permission from the owner. District spokeswoman Sorina Weiland said the owner will also have to pay for all of the renovation costs.  

So how is this even legal? 

“The expropriation is authorized by the Hamburg Housing Protection Act (Hamburger Wohnraumschutzgesetz), a 1982 law that was updated by the city’s Socialist government in May 2013 to enable the city to seize any residential property unit that has been vacant for more than four months,” writes Gatestone Institute.

The law was put in place to force owners of vacant residences to get them rented with tenants. There are somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 vacant residences in Hamburg and there is now even a hotline where residences can report vacant properties.  

But, the reason these homes are vacant is partially the city’s fault.  

“Others are blaming city officials for not approving more building permits to allow for the construction of new residential units. A study conducted in 2012 — well before the migrant crisis reached epic proportions — forecast that by 2017, Hamburg would have a deficit of at least 50,000 rental properties,” writes Gatestone Institute. “In 2012, Hamburg’s Socialist government presented a plan to build 6,000 new residential units per year. The plan never materialized, however, because prospective builders were constricted by government-imposed rental caps which would have made it impossible for them to even recover their construction costs.”

Then in October of 2015, the Hamburg Parliament approved a new law that allows the city to seize vacant commercial properties to house migrants. 

Back then, more than 400 new migrants were arriving into the city daily.

The city has been forced to create temporary shelters out of shipping containers.  

While the city argues that these properties need to be confiscated in order to protect migrants from being homeless, others argue that it’s an attack on property rights.  

“The proposed confiscation of private land and buildings is a massive attack on the property rights of the citizens of Hamburg,” said André Trepoll of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU). “It amounts to an expropriation by the state.”  

“The plans of the Berlin Senate to requisition residential and commercial property without the consent of the owner to accommodate refugees is an open breach of the constitution. The attempt by the Senate to undermine the constitutional right to property and the inviolability of the home must be resolutely opposed,” said Sebastian Czaja, the leader of the Free Democrats (FDP) in Berlin.  

Although Merkel came to her senses by halting Germany’s open door policy and harshened her rhetoric about immigration, the damage has already been done.

According to the Die Welt newspaper, 300,000 migrants have been granted asylum and 1.5 million are still being processed. This places Germany at No. 2, in terms of countries allowing the most refugees. Germany is closely behind Turkey, which borders Syria.


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