Our apartment building is home to 30 tenants in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain. Gentrification created a divide right through our building – older tenants in untouched flats were living side by side with new tenants in freshly modernised ones. We had little contact with one another; our lives were too different.
But then we found out that our building was to be sold and turned into an investment property. The fear that we could all lose our homes released a sense of solidarity among us. Apartments in our area are seen less and less as homes for people, and more as investments, where tenants, who cannot keep up with escalating prices for living space, are just a hindrance. This results in leases being terminated for entire apartment complexes. Buildings are refurbished as luxury appartments and let to new tenants. People living on low-incomes are driven away. And impoverished pensioners are forced to compete with freelance artists, welfare recipients and single parents for the last remaining space that they can still afford.
We didn't want to be played off against each other, and so decided to take the step to self-administration. We managed to convince our landlord not to sell the building to an investor. Instead– with the help of the Edith Maryon Foundation and Triodos Bank - we bought it ourselves.
Now we live autonomously in our apartment building, within the Mietshäuser Syndikat alliance (apartment building syndicate). We are our own landlord. We use the land on the basis of heritable building rights and are gradually paying our loan back to Triodos Bank using the rental income we pay.