Global Fundisation and Mass Privatisation of Housing


Within the past 2-3 years nearly half a million former social housings in Germany have been sold to local and international speculation companies. The new owners optimise the utilization of the real estates and particularly focus on the massive allocation into single property.

Tenants rights, jobs, the structure of the neighbourhoods are under pressure. By large steps the traditionally large portion of rental housing within German housing stock gets reduced. However, even the large sales of the last years only build the prelude to a much larger wave of sales and privatisation, which massively gets influenced by the increasing role international Private Equity Funds (like Terra Firma/Annington, Fortress, Cerberus etc..). This process will be stimulated by the planned introduction of Real Estate Investments Trusts (REITs) in Germany. Gigantic potentials for sales are expected. The entire property structure of the German real estate economy traditionally based on long-term loans at low interest rates and many regulations- is totally transforming.

This situation probably does not sound very new to a couple of countries like Chile which since a long time are suffering from the introduction of radical neo-liberalism. But what is new is the scale and the global coordination of this attack.

As far as we understand, parallel to the German case the housing bubble, the capitalist concentration of real estate business and the introduction of REITs in France intensified the utilization of the private housing markets there. Similar capitalist groups as in Germany are penetrating markets in Spain, Turkey and elsewhere. In Eastern Asia a new speculation wave is on the run And nearly everywhere public investment on affordable housing gets reduced.

So far tenants organizations and trade unions, beyond local defence struggles, hardly found an answer to this global challenge. It is urgently necessary to develop a common analysis and a strategic line.

In difference to the traditional institutional housing sector in Germany the new land lord companies such as Fortress, Annington and Cerberus no longer operate locally and regionally, but directly at national and global levels. Without deepened understanding of the globalisising property markets and speculation waves, the interests of global investors, their portfolio and exit strategies no appropriate strategy building is possible.

Being more and more confronted to transnationally acting landlords the question must be raised, how tenants, users and employees can start to organize themselves globally.

A closer view on the international processes affecting the global city regions shows significant parallelism of the neo-liberal attacks on housing and land markets, – not only in post-welfare states, but also in post-socialist societies and even in countries with an dominating informal production of housing.

With our small conference we want to push an overdue discussion about strategic answers beyond the local embarrassment. We understand this small event as one of the starting points for building knowledge, networks and capacities in order to face the global challenge by campaigns, coordinated action and advocacy. Follow up events are planned at national and international levels.

Global Fundisation and Mass Privatisation of Housing

– Towards alternative strategies for the defence of social rights &
interests opposing the globalising housing commerce –

Consultation of Organizers, Critical Researchers and Trade Unionists

Sunday, 20-November 2005 – Tuesday, 22 November 2005 in Bochum, Germany

More information:
Knut Unger
MieterInnenverein Witten u. Umg. e.V. / Habitat-Netz. e.V.
Postfach 1928, D-58409 Witten
Schillerstr. 13, 58452 Witten
Geschftsstelle Tel. 02302-51793
Direkt/ Habitat-Netz: 02302-276171
Fax. 02302-27320