(© picture alliance/photothek/Florian Gaertner)

  Housing policy

  13 Debates

Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has vetoed a government bill aimed at combating the country's housing crisis on the grounds that proposals put forward by the opposition have not been seriously discussed. The veto forces the Socialists, who govern with an absolute majority, to present the law to parliament for discussion again, but not to make any changes. The national press would like to see the bill reviewed.

Rising rents and housing shortages were already a major issue in Europe before the pandemic - especially in the cities. Now war, inflation and high energy and construction costs are exacerbating the problem. Europe's commentators assess the situation and discuss what must be done.

Roughly 8,000 citizens demonstrated against the housing shortage in Rotterdam on Sunday. Protests over the lack of affordable housing have already taken place in other cities across the country. Commentators point out that measures beyond government proposals to build new housing will be needed to tackle the problem effectively.

The Danish government has announced plans to build around 22,000 low-cost housing units by 2035. With this measure the minority Social Democrats want to ensure that housing remains affordable for everyone even in expensive cities like Copenhagen. The country's media criticise the plans for various reasons.

Spain's left-wing governing coalition consisting of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and its junior partner Unidas Podemos has presented a bill aimed at regulating the housing market. The legislation foresees a rent cap for urban areas and landlords who own more than ten residential properties. Local authorities would be free to decide whether to implement it. Several conservative municipalities, including Madrid, have already announced that they will not apply the law.

Since the semester began at Turkish universities in mid-September, students across the country have been sleeping in parks to protest the lack of dormitory accommodation and the inflated rent prices for that which is available. The national press examines the roots of the problem, which has now come to a head but has existed for many years.

The decision of Germany's Constitutional Court on Berlin's rent cap is a big topic in Europe's press beyond the country's borders. The Berlin law entered into force in February 2020 and froze existing rents. Now the court in Karlsruhe has ruled that the legislative powers to adopt such a law were not in the hands of individual German states, but at the federal level, which had already established a 'brake on rents' in 2015.

Around one third of all apartments in Lisbon city centre are rented out to tourists via platforms such as Airbnb. Lisbon's Mayor Fernando Medina has announced plans to change this after Covid-19 by offering financial incentives to landlords who make their housing available to those who live and work in the city permanently. Is this the right strategy from an urban planning perspective?

Rents in Berlin will be frozen for the next five years. The so-called 'rent cap' which was approved by the capital's government consisting of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Left party and the Greens is highly controversial in Germany. Journalists in other countries discuss whether Berlin's example should be followed elsewhere.

Housing shortages, low interest rates and real estate speculation have caused rents in Europe's big cities to skyrocket in recent years. In many places people are taking to the streets to protest. In Portugal and Berlin new laws have been proposed to stop the trend. Commentators say the problem is primarily on the supply side.

The Berlin Senate's draft law for introducing a rent cap is kicking up a storm. The plan is to limit base rent prices to no more than 7.97 euros per square meter. Anyone who pays more can apply for a reduction. This will smother the free market, some critics say. Others argue that the free market doesn't work anyway.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in several German cities on Saturday to protest rising rents. At the same time an initiative for a referendum was launched in Berlin calling for large real estate companies to be expropriated. Commentators inside and outside Germany discuss how to tackle the challenge of providing affordable living space for all.

In many cities of Europe tenants are complaining about rising rents and housing shortages - the downside of cheap holiday flats and of people short-letting their homes via Airbnb. The former start-up has long since become a tourism sector giant that generates billions. What limits should be set for the accommodation platform?