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German federal properties remain empty in midst of housing shortage

More than 360,000 square metres of housing owned by the German federal government are vacant amidst a severe lack of housing in many German cities, information obtained by dpa showed.

The properties amount to around several thousand flats which are supposed to house federal employees, according to the information. The government’s property agency BIMA owns more than 18,000 square metres of vacant housing in Berlin alone. BIMA is one of the largest property owners in Germany.

The figures were revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question from Caren Lay, a member of the Left Party in the Bundestag, that was made available to dpa.

The Finance Ministry says the vacant properties include flats that have not yet been rented out following a move-out but could be rented out again in the near future, as well as flats in need of refurbishment. In a few cases the flats cannot be used in the long term, for example because they do not have planning authorization.

Lay blamed the government for being partly responsible for Germany’s housing shortage due to the vacancies in federally owned properties. “Federal employees are competing in the overheated housing market, especially in Berlin,” she said.

The German Council of Property Professionals estimates there is currently a shortage of 600,000 flats in Germany.

Of a total of almost 6 million square metres of federal “commercial and other real estate,” which also includes office, storage and production space, around 2.8 million square metres are currently vacant, the ministry’s response continued. Around 638,000 of the properties could not be used, and the sale of around 453,000 square metres was planned.

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