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Germany, Country of Tenants

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Unlike Britain, where homeownership is often associated with security, personal independence and the commitment to middle-class values, Germany, until very recently, promoted tenancy as a way of life. This situation harks back to the nineteenth century and is only to a small extent related to the heritage of socialist East Germany. Today approximately 85 per cent of Berliners rent their homes (compared to less than 50 per cent of Londoners). The ubiquity of tenancy comes with strong tenant protection laws and has significant consequences for the dynamics of urban development. House values and mortgages play a consequently smaller role in urban politics, gentrification cycles are slower, and the homes of most Germans are not at the mercy of a volatile banking sector. This article will present the historical development of this situation, the consequences on the present housing market and the current debate over homeownership in Germany. Despite the different and long-established social patterns, there may be lessons here for Britain (and other similar economies) in thinking about the rental sector, the symbolism of ownership, the regulatory and investment roles of government, and the dynamics of urban change.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2015

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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