New residential housing construction stable in Berlin

Permits for multi-family housing are up - but will enough actually be built?

You could make a €1,200/month, one-room apartment out of those bricks and that door.
You could make a €1,200/month, one-room apartment out of those bricks and that door.imago images

Berlin-Approvals for new residential construction rose slightly in the first nine months over the same period last year as the corona pandemic appeared to do little to dampen the appetite for new Berlin abodes. Permits for new residential units rose 0.6 per cent in the to 15,414, according to the Berlin-Brandenburg statistics office.

The figures include a 4.4 per cent jump in permits for new buildings, representing 
13,820 apartments, while the outstanding 1,594 apartments will be created through construction work on existing buildings, for example through loft conversions – a 23.8 per cent drop over the first nine months of 2019.

The German capital currently needs about 20,000 new residential units per year to keep up with the influx of newcomers. Since not everything that is approved is actually built, that means that the city-state must approve more than 20,000 to meet demand and last year, where Berlin approved more than 20,000, just 19,000 residential units were actually completed. 

"The number of approved apartments remains stable at a high level," housing minister Sebastian Scheel (Linke) said. Scheel said it was "good news" that approvals for multi-story residential rose over 2019 – 12,743 apartments were approved in such buildings, seven per cent more. 

In single- and two-family houses, however, 15.5 per cent fewer were approved or just 908 residential units. Overall, building permits for commercial and residential projects fell by 13.7 per cent in the period. 

"The decline of building permits in Berlin has catastrophic consequences for all tenants in Berlin," said parliamentarian Christian Gräff (CDU). He blamed Berlin's SPD-Linke-Green government and said the Mietendeckel rent cap was unconstitutional and had lead to the stagnation of residential building permits by discouraging new construction and rennovations.