Bundestag elections 2021—the parties´ plans for the real estate industry
On 26 September 2021, the 20th German Bundestag will be elected. The parties have nominated their top candidates, the election programmes have been adopted and the election campaign is in full swing. Time to take a closer look at the parties' ideas for the real estate industry.
We have examined the election programmes of those parties which, at the time of writing, could be expected to make it into parliament, i. e. reach the 5% threshold of votes. The order in which the parties were considered reflects the status of the forecasts at the end of August.
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CDU/CSU - Christian Democratic Party / Christian Social Union
The CDU/CSU aim for a total of 1.5 million new rental flats to be built by 2025. To encourage this ambitios plan, the regulations on housing construction are to be eased. The parties plan to introduce a separate Federal Ministry for Construction. The party also wants to speed up planning and approval procedures. For example, a building application should be considered approved if it has not been processed within a period of two months.
Furthermore, the party plans to increase the construction of social housing and improve rural areas' access to transport and the internet. In addition, brownfield sites in industry and agriculture are to be converted for the use of public housing construction.
At the same time, a new incentive for housing ownership is planned to replace the current programme for families, the so-called Baukindergeld. In the coming legislative period, companies are to be incentivised to build housing for their employees.
The parties´coalition of CDU/CSU also pledges to facilitate and speed up the process of housing ownership. Among other things, the parties plan to introduce an exemption amount for land transfer tax, which is set to be 250,000 euros per person and can be claimed when purchasing one's first own property.
Office/ Post-pandemic Work
The CDU/CSU see a growing need for flexible working hours and want to make mobile working feasible for as many employees as possible and relies on social partnership regulations of the parties to collective agreements and companies. In addition, the party wants to promote co-working spaces for creative working in rural areas.
SPD - the Social Democrats
The SPD pledges to promote social housing construction and puts the number of new required social housing units at 100,000 per year. In addition, the party plans to limit rent increases in tense housing markets to the rate of inflation. The rent break, Mietpreisbremse, is also to be tightened and to become permanent as opposed to the currently time-limited measure.
In addition, a nationally uniform qualified rent index is to be introduced, which is supposed to reflect rents of the past eight years, instead of currently four. Furthermore, the SPD wants to grant municipalities the right of first refusal for building land at "fair prices".
The party also pledges to support cooperatives and lease-purchase models and a "young-buy-old" programme to promote the purchase of existing properties, in particular in town centres that are affected by vacancies.
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The SPD plans to introduce a legal right to mobile working. The idea is that employees should be able to work on the move or in a home office at least 24 days a year, if their job nature makes it possible.
Moreover, the party plans to introduce the right of co-determination for employees when it comes to the introduction and organisation of mobile work. The election programme also provides for the introduction of a rent cap and tenant protection in the area of commercial real estate and the promotion of co-working spaces in city centres.
The Green party intends to anchor the rent cap, Mietendeckel, into federal law as well as to tighten the rent brake, Mietpreisbremse, while also to abolish its time limit. At the same time, rent adjustments should not exceed 2.5 % per annum, with the upper limit being determined by the rent cap. For the rent index, an extension of the period under review to 20 years is planned.
In addition, the Greens are planning a further reduction of the modernisation cost that can be passed to the tenant and extensions of the protection for social conservation areas and the ban on converting rented flats into owner-occupied units. At the same time, municipalities are to be strengthened by being granted more pre-emption rights for building plots at preferential conditions. The building order for vacant plots of land is also to be extended.
For private property owners, the land transfer tax is to be lowered when purchasing property in order to reduce ancillary purchase costs (this only applies to private purchasers). In addition, the programme provides for applying the ordering principle to apartment sales (the one who orders the broker´s services is to pay for the brokerage fee, which was typically passed on to the buyer) and to limit the brokerage fee to 2%.
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The Green party wants to introduce a right to mobile working, which it can either take place in a home office or in co-working spaces. In addition, the party demands improved protection against dismissal for small and medium-sized enterprises in commercially used real estate as well as the introduction of a commercial rent brake in cities with a tight markets for commercial space. In addition, a commercial rent law should ensure that smaller businesses can settle and remain in central city locations.
FDP - the Free Democrats
The FDP speaks against the initiative for expropriation of privately owned real estate to state owned housing organisations ("Deutsche Wohnen und Co. enteignen"), rent brakes and rent caps. Instead, the party pledges to support building activity in cities and relies on the self-regulating market mechanisms. In addition, the party plans to introduce an allowance of up to 500,000 euros on the land transfer tax for natural persons when purchasing a property and increase the linear depreciation for housing investments from currently 2% to 3%.
With regard to access to affordable housing, the FDP relies on subject promotion, i. e. tenant, rather than object promotion. The party plans to facilitate access to the free housing market for low-paying tenants by means of a housing subsidy.
Furthermore, the party envisages an accelerated procedure for building permits. On the one hand, a simple approval procedure on the part of the authorities should be given, which provides for the automatic approval of a building if the authority does not respond to an application within a certain time limit. On the other hand, digital building applications are to be introduced in order to partially automate the processing.
Office/ Post-pandemic Work
The FDP is committed to mobile working and home office. To this end, it provides for a right of discussion of the employee vis-à-vis the employer in order to promote cultural change and acceptance of mobile working. Applications by employees for mobile working and home office should be compulsorily examined by companies and discussed together with the applicant.
The Left Party plans to introduce the Berlin rent cap, which was overturned by the Federal Constitutional Court in April 2021, as a nationwide measure. In addition, the party wants to freeze rents for existing tenancies whereever the housing markets are strained according to the assessment of the municipalities.
In addition, the Left Party plans to invest 15 billion euros annually in municipal, social and cooperative housing construction. The party also advocates a new non-profit housing association. In addition, the Left want to put permanent rent ceilings, obligations to reinvest profits and co-determination rights for tenants under the condition of subsidies and tax concessions for housing construction.
Furthermore, the Left Party advocates a broad ban on the conversion of rented and owner-occupied housing. In addition, party plans to complicate the termination of tenancy agreements by landlords motivated by their own needs to privately use the property. In addition, the party envisages a right to rent strikes and the expropriation of large housing corporations. All in all, according to the party's ideas, 50% of the housing stock should be in public and non-profit hands.
The AfD focuses on the promotion of home ownership. That is why the party wants to abolish the land transfer tax for Germans who own their own property. In return, foreigners without a main residence in Germany would pay an increased land transfer tax of 20 %.
According to the party's ideas, state-owned housing companies should offer their tenants their flats for sale, whereby the purchase of housing should be promoted with state guarantees as a substitute for equity capital for up to 10% of the value of the property.
The AfD also wants to abolish the energy-saving ordinance and lower standards that apply to fire-sound and heat insulation. Instead of social housing, which in its view has failed, the party advocates a housing allowance that low-income tenants should receive. The AfD rejects a rent cap or a rent brake.
It is not yet foreseable which party will ultimately win the race for chancellor and which parties will make up the new federal government. Various constellations are possible, from "Jamaica" to "traffic light" to a renewed grand coalition.
Depending on the election results, the parties involved in the government will be able to assert their ideas for the real estate industry to a greater or lesser extent, while for others only the path to the hard opposition bench will remain.