In the last few days, everything happened very quickly. Only four weeks ago, we founded ourselves as an initiative, and we have already arrived at the militant practice. Because the organization of the tenants from the houses, which landed only recently on the purchase list of the Swedish investor Heimstaden AB, is an urgent matter. The news that from now on over 130 houses are to go into the possession of a single investor (!) and this in the midst of times of the rent cap – that means for present and future Mieter:innen nothing good and shows: Right now, a lot of solidarity and support is needed. With the help of many initiatives and groups, we are organizing together with the affected tenants against the sale and trying to find ways to avert it. Just last week there was an online networking meeting with 300 people! (Mehr zur Heimstaden-Vernetzung)
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But actually we wanted to take everything slowly. To take enough time to build up the project of founding a union for tenants on a stable foundation. The idea of establishing a trade union organization in the field of housing and networking tenants in the long term has been floating around in activist circles and urban policy debates for quite some time. For two years, a small circle of people from the Mietenwahnsinn alliance and other groups have been working on this idea. In Frankfurt a.M., things happened a bit faster: In 2019, the first initiative for a tenants’ union was founded there and is currently organizing tenants of the real estate company Vonovia.
As useful as it seems to work on the idea of a tenants’ union (why this makes sense: see our concept paper!) – it is still a long way to the foundation. For the establishment of such an organization, functioning internal structures and workflows are needed, which still have to be designed and tested; besides a base of people who will be members of the union in the future, many committed individuals are needed, especially in the beginning, to shape and drive this development; the idea of such an organization still has to be brought into the public debate, because for many it is (still) unknown; and then there are the fundamental questions concerning the union itself: How is it structured internally, what legal security exists, what means of pressure can it have, and what advantages does membership bring at all?
In order to make progress, we need not only time, but also many discussions, internally and publicly, about the development of a tenants’ union and its role in the context of increasingly precarious housing conditions. If you are interested in supporting us in these tasks and helping to shape this initiative: We meet twice a month and always have time to give interested people an insight into the initiative (feel free to write us an email!).
Of course, the current Corona case numbers are also a circumstance that will again greatly change our work in the coming weeks or months. Discussions and joint work can be implemented online, but require more strength and patience. At the same time, however, the large online networking meetings of the Heimstaden houses on 21.10. and 28.10. as well as the digital local group meetings showed that it is feasible and organizing is also possible online.
Initiative tenants union Berlin