Conversion ban for residential buildings in Hamburg

In Hamburg, the conversion of rented flats into owner-occupied flats has been made more difficult since an ordinance was issued in November last year. Throughout the city conversions in existing residential buildings with more than five flats now require approval. The ordinance is intended to ensure the preservation and safeguarding of affordable housing and to prevent the removal of flats from the rental housing market. This is because in the tight housing market situation in the Hanseatic city, conversions mean that finding housing for lower-income renters is increasingly difficult. Therefore, the population that depends on its housing neighbourhoods should be protected from displacement and flats with affordable rents should be safeguarded.

The permit requirement for the formation of condominiums does not apply if there are no more than five flats in the residential building. This exception is intended to protect small property owners who have acquired only a small amount of real estate assets, for example, for the purpose of old-age provision. Permission must also be granted, for example, if the condominium or partial condominium is to be sold to at least two-thirds of the tenants for their own use.

The Hamburg ordinance is based on an authorisation by the federal legislator, according to which the federal states are allowed to designate areas with a tight housing market. According to Section 250 Baugesetzbuch (BauGB), these areas are then subject to approval for the establishment or division of condominiums/partial ownership.

The ordinance issued is valid throughout Hamburg for a limited period until 31 December 2025. It supplements the measures already taken by the Senate to protect tenants, such as protection against excessive re-letting rents, against excessive rent increases in the current tenancy through the introduction of a cap and against terminations after housing conversion as well as against misuse.

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