Hamburg Expropriates Private Housing for “Refugees”

In the period before the October Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks robbed banks to obtain necessary funds. The revolutionaries justified their theft, needless to say, as recovering for the People what was rightfully theirs from the evil capitalists who had stolen it from them by exploitation. Such larceny was referred to as “expropriation”.

In a similar spirit, the city government of Hamburg is seizing private housing to allocate to “refugees”. As far as I am aware, only empty apartments are being expropriated — for now.

Egri Nök, who translating the article below, notes that it does not explicitly mention the pressure on the housing supply from the demand generated by recently-arrived migrants. However, the she tells us that everyone assumes that this is the reason for the expropriations, although no one discusses it publicly. And she adds this apposite information:

In my opinion, the only halfway solid hint that we have is that notorious Die Zeit article from September 2015, where they reported that Hamburg changed the law specifically because of the refugees.

The translated article from

Reaction to the housing shortage

House owner expropriated: Hamburg seizes empty apartments

May 4, 2017

An owner from Hamburg had six apartments that were vacant for years. He did not modernize them. The city of Hamburg is fed up. The district authority has dispossessed the landlord. The city is now modernizing the apartments at the owner’s expense.

A landlord was dispossessed by the district authority Hamburg-Mitte. The apartments are in the district of Hamm near the center and have been vacant for five years. The authority had levied a penalty payment of €18,000 and threatened him with dispossession, as Hamburger Abendblatt reports. But the owner still was willfully obstructive and did not release the apartments onto the market.

The district authority has now handed over the apartments to a trustee, who is modernizing them, and will offer them for rent. The modernizing costs, a mid-level five-figure number for new floors, heating, and walls, will have to be paid by the owner. He cannot choose the new tenants, but has to accept them.

There are allegedly more than 5,000 vacant apartments in Hamburg. This annoys many people who are apartment-hunting in the overrun market. The demand in German major cities is huge and the supply is too small. Since 2013, local authorities have been able to forcibly expropriate apartments when they have been vacant for four months without undergoing modernization.

25 thoughts on “Hamburg Expropriates Private Housing for “Refugees”

  1. This sort of behavior fairly typical of the behavior of governments over the past few thousand years. As governments consolidated their power and authority, and incurred expenses for massive administration and mercenary personnel, the kings and princes looked to concentrations of wealth, which often turned out to be the ecclesiastical authorities and sects. A modern example is the government of Cyprus, which simply expropriated 50% or so of large bank accounts under its jurisdiction.

    The boundary between princes and highwaymen is sometimes pretty thin.

    Of course, once the princes finish devouring their own limbs, nothing much is left, and they wind up even worse off than before. I suppose the government-appointed trustees will take out mortgages and loans in the owners name, recreating exactly the conditions of serfs, which originated in the later Roman empire. Any landlord with half a brain would immediately declare bankruptcy. No bank would lend under those circumstances, so I assume indebted landlords will face prison, rather than a poor credit rating. Again, this is precisely the circumstances of the development of serfdom.

    I won’t talk about freedoms and individual rights, since those are long dead and gone in the Germanic countries.

    • Ronald, I understand your comparison to history with what is now occurring in some German states, but even under Hitler and his Nazis, private property was private property, unless of course one happened to be on the hit list of those deemed to be undesirable Germans.

      Those this illegal edict affect need to redress the wrong that has been imposed on them. As far as I can detect, private property in Germany is still private property.

      A class action needs to go to court.

      • Ironically, in 21st century Germany the entire native-born citizenry is on the government’s hit list.

    • Sorry but “a few thousand years” ago neither the “conditions of serfs” nor feudalism (a military and political system) had not yet come into existence. Feudal tenants several steps down in the pyramid often had extreme difficulty controlling their vassals, but I get your meaning anyway. Cyprus is more an example of pure financial terrorism.

  2. In my opinion property rights are the cornerstone of a “free” civil society. If something is unsafe for the general public, ( exterior fascia, support walls, roofs, etc ) I can understand government becoming involved to force a repair. But, if a person wishes to own a vacant building, it should be his or her right to do so. Maybe they do not want any wear and tear, or damage, as the property appreciates. I must just be an old capitalist!

  3. Gee! I wonder if Hamburg found that it could invoke Kelo v. New London. It’s a good thing we still have the Fourth Amendment here (more or less) that requires the government to pay for what it steals. The problem with Kelo was that New London got away with down-zoning the residence to open space and then declaring the present use a code violation. Germany simply cuts to the chase and makes Hamburg-er (couldn’t resist) out of their landlords. There is a legal principle that involves the duty of improvement utility. Inasmuch as the government, society at large, has given permission for the improvement to exist. the owner of the improvement has a duty to society to make the improvement available so that society can enjoy the benefit of the utility that the improvement provides. This legal tenet was used in two cities that I know of to clear whole areas of apartments that were no longer serving their intended use as built, and this was prior to Kelo v. New London. So Hamburg is within its rights, sort of, in a European sort of way. I would do what Paul suggested and BK and allow Hamburg to force the issue to that the legal question could be decided. If property rights win out over the City’s overreach, then I will definitely be having Hamburg-er for lunch.

  4. “The city is now modernizing the apartments at the owner’s expense.”

    “at the owner’s expense.”

    Do they think this is getting the people on-side?

    • It will make 1 unhappy and the 6 (or 12 if a family) who get the apartments happy.

      • Just imagine what that appartment will look like, after this ‘refugee’ family has lived in it for a couple of months.
        C0mpletely dilapidated !

        Here in the Netherlands, young couples are on the waiting list
        for years … before they are offered a house/appartment !

  5. I’ve seen this article posted on other anti-jihad websites and I’ve read the backlash comments from those in Germany or those who are more liberal-minded saying that it’s a long-standing law in Hamburg about real estate speculation and a housing shortage, etc so that the government was in the right to take the property and us complaining about it is us just being against muslims, etc. Maybe it is a law and I can see how empty apartments in a housing shortage would be frustrating but I still believe in the principle of private property and being able to do with yours what you want. They don’t seem to get that if the government can seize property for this broken law what will stop them from making other convenient laws to enable them to seize YOUR property? Or how this is just another instance (even if small) of how the government is siding with the newcomers over their own citizens. Those of us who are seeing what is going on are growing weary of this so our tolerance wears thin. Three years ago I may have been shrugging alongside those now accusing us of making a big deal over nothing.

    • We were researching this quite carefully for this article.
      It is not quite accurate that this specifically is a long-standing law. Yes there is a long-standing law which gives cities the right to seize property to avert imminent “danger to the public”. But no one has ever made the stretch to seize a house to put tenants in there.
      Then, in September/October 2015, Hamburg introduced a new law specifically so that they can seize apartments for “refugees” (
      The motion for this interestingly was started in August 2015 by no other than Die Linke (“The Left”), the very same party who is the legal successor of the East German ruling party SED (“Socialist Unity Party”). When introducing the motion, they specificied that it was in the light of the “refugee” situation (
      A few towns have seized houses since, but it has gone more or less unnoted.
      There is a housing shortage indeed in the prosperous cities (like Hamburg), but the cities do nothing to alleviate that, on the contrary, at the time when the motion was introduced in Hamburg, the town ironically owned 1,300 (!) empty apartments.
      As for backlash – it does not surprise me to hear that. Even Germans who are more critical than average are eager to reassure everyone that it’s not quite as bad, and to attack everyone who says, yes it is.
      “There is not a more docile, but also not a more gullible people than the Germans. No lie can be conceived too unsubtle, the Germans believe it. For a slogan which they are given, they persecute their own countrymen with more animus than the real enemies of their country.” – allegedly, Napoleon said this about the Germans.

      • @Anon_in_Canada :
        I can only support what Egri Nök says. Usually, these “expropriation” laws are not specific at all and can be applied to anything the authorities want.

        Here a video (click on “subtitles” for Translation):

        As I posted before, in 2011 was a great Survey, officially called a census. But the authorities asked for far more than how many People living in a household, but for number of rooms, size of appartment/house, garden size etc.

        This researched article of Egri Nök is as good as Gold / an eye opener and quite a good incentive for a forecast what will happen here in Germany until 2020!

        For the big Picture:
        – The implicit state debt to GDP in Germany (Official state debt is 2 Trillion EUR, with pensions, interests to pay, and other obligations including the Target 2 Saldo) is about 140 %.
        – In the 20th century, house owners and landlords were registered forced mortgages twice.
        – In 2016 alone, the government took 1.5 Billion EUR out of the national health fund for the migrants.
        – Most of the media totally omit , that many migrants expected their state-funded house and are now p***** off.

        Guess what happens next here!

        • Thank you both for the clarity. I also trust Gatestone Institute in general for their articles. The sneering condescension of the ‘backlashers’ admittedly makes me lose my nerve at times. I try to keep up with the news but I’m not an intellect so it is hard to grasp all that is happening and putting the pieces together.

          I am of German background though fully Canadianized myself and watching Germany society kill itself and looking into the possible reasons for that sort of explains my extended family and the church circles I grew up in.

          • Greetings from the Caliphate of Almanya, formerly known as Germany. Or you may call us DDR 2.0, with every possible meaning of this term.
            There is no Need for excusing yourself for anything.

            [Irony on] 😉
            As you are blessed with having preemptively and actively executed with your emigration what the DDR 2.0 (know in the connotation of Der Dumme Rest / The Foolish Rest) will experience if there is no turn-around. But this case involuntarily and likely without the possibilty of taking their wealth with them.
            Damn, I may not use the term “experience” for this. In New-Speech, this term is reserved for the now forbidden term “rape victim”. I deeply apologize for this.
            😉 [\Irony off]

            Basically, I enjoy this blog for minimizing euphemisms and a clear, sober and objective view on the blog’s main theme. Here I can gather real Information, fact-check and than draw my own conclusions, not letting my opinion be BILDed.

          • I was born in Canada. My family is German ethnicity but most were living in the colonies in Russia having been invited over by Catherine the Great and fled during the Soviet Era (around the time of WW2 but weren’t allowed into Canada because of their Soviet and German ties so went to South America first). But my mother’s side of the family was in Germany until after WW2. The culture follows especially when you stay in German circles. My husband is German background and my brother married a German girl. Our cousins married Germans, etc.

            And Canada is quickly trying to join their European brothers and sisters in dhimmitude so I don’t really feel I have escaped anything at this point. However, there are more American-sympathizers here so not totally alone in my opinions. The church I attend has mostly German names but we’ve cut ourselves off from the culture, so to speak. Marxism has infiltrated a lot of the German churches….

          • Thanks for the answer, me and my ancestors (mainly peasants) have always lived in the same Region of Germany. I fully admire the extreme solidarity amongst the Re-Emagrated Germans of Russia (Volga-, Kazakhstan-, etc. Germans, Danube swabians).

            Brilliant advice, so my preparations for my own plan B / possible emigration should put a lower priority on Canada.

  6. This is only a prelude what is to come, and Germany is the experimental laboratory for all of Europe. As 8-10 Million migrants are to be expected to arrive until 2020, there will be new, “creative” ways of creating housing.
    In 2011, we had a conspicuous Census in which also the number of rooms of propriators was asked for. Now we know what this was for.
    I predict a massive wave of expropiation of house owners which have paid off everything via Charging an unpayable fee:
    – Claim of modernisation Need
    – The road to the House
    – New “eco” directives
    – Simply putting an fictive mortgage on the house
    – A “Refugee Solidarity Fee”
    Even if this could be fend of, the legal cost will ruin every house owner whose house catches the interest of our dear cultural enrichers.

  7. I wonder how long it will be before ‘der Fuhrer’ orders Macron to do the same. I suspect even the French sheep might take umbrage at that – bring on, Merkal, light the blue touch paper and let’s have at it.

  8. Many years ago, in my (no doubt misspent) youth, I read the economist J K Galbraith. He made the point that the market is good at providing plentiful consumer goods at affordable (for most) prices, but not so much with necessities such as affordable health care, education, public transport- and housing.

    So the Hamburg authorities are right to seize long-empty properties, but not without adequate compensation; and of course they should not leave their own housing empty.

    Who gets priority when accommodation is allocated is another issue, on which I suspect I’d agree with most here.

    • Yeah!

      I attended an actual talk by Galbraith when I was an undergraduate. I asked him something of the kind (don’t remember the exact question) and he simply insulted me, without answering the question. Such is the level of discourse by socialist economists who have become too famous to have to defend their propositions with actual logic.

      So, the solution to the lack of public goods is to simply steal it…or, throw a few pfennig at the former owners. Good luck with that.

      Anyway, the Hamburger solution is to spend the money and legally obligate the poor landlord to pay the bill. Sooner or later, probably sooner, they will enforce their decrees with actual prison…debtor’s prison for those capitalists who declare bankruptcy, rather than pay the state-imposed debt obligation.

      You think you can get away from the hobnailed boot on your neck simply by shrinking into the woodwork, and not saying anything unpopular? Totalitarian, socialist states don’t work like that.

      • We must agree to differ, RonaldB. Shelter, like food, is a necessity, and people should not be allowed to hoard it. If that makes me some kind of socialist, I’m fine with that.

  9. Terrible, but absolutely nothing new in Italy and reminds me of the 80 year old Italian hotel owner in Rovigo last year. The local prefecture confiscated his hotel and forced around 15 refugees on him and he was allegedly paid about 7 euros per refugee per night. Verona has also been the scene of this unpleasantness being forced upon Italians. All across Europe, despite so called laws in so called free societies all private property can be confiscated for any reason the government decides to invent. The odds for any citizen, of having their property in the right place at the right time on government radar, and having this happening to them grows by the year.

  10. And the Soviets didn’t just destroy previous certainties, such as the security of currency – they swept away the whole concept of ownership of personal property. Red Army soldiers, looking for somewhere to live, merely walked down a street until they saw a house they liked, and then banged on the door and announced they were moving in. The first that Anna Levitska and her family knew about the appropriation of their comfortable villa in the suburbs of Lwów was when two Red Army officers appeared on their doorstep and announced: ‘We are going to be billeted with you.’

    Rees, Laurence. World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 496-501). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

  11. One has to ask the question: why are all those apartments vacant? Don’t German landlords like making money? Are there negative incentives tax-wise or in the social justice area in doing so? I am in the U.S. but any landlord I know sees an empty apartment as lost revenue. Why is it not that way in Germany? If a property owner would rather leave a large apartment building vacant for 5 years, he either doesn’t consider it cost-effective to fix, or he doesn’t have the means to do so. Either way, forcing him to do so seems like the wrong solution. Maybe provide low-interest loans for repairs or some tax incentive to rent to the islamic hordes.

    • Having been critical of the totalitarian Hamburger government, I should observe that there is a class of wealthy money manipulator that does do things that do not seem to make economic sense. Real-estate speculators would have no compunction about buying up properties and holding them for years until the prices went up. Of course, the property taxes of unoccupied properties would have to be balanced against the anticipated revenues.

      This sort of thing could probably be combated by raising the taxes on rental properties, or particularly on unoccupied properties. Make it unprofitable to hold properties unused looking for a price rise. But, as you speculate, there may be good reasons for not renting the properties. They may be forced to give first priorities to immigrants, who are going to trash the properties. Who knows with the totalitarian place Germany has become?

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