‘It’s an early death notice’ – Poor and elderly tenants forced from apartments to house migrants in German town of Lörrach

Approximately 40 tenants are being threatened with forced relocation, but experts say the city’s housing association has no legal ground for the “brazen” move

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: John Cody

German tenants in the town of Lörrach in southern Germany, many of them elderly and barely surviving on pensions, have just learned that their apartment contracts are set to be terminated, and they will be forced out of their homes to make way for Ukrainian refugees.

The town’s housing association, which is operated by a municipal subsidiary, argued that it was terminating the contracts of approximately 40 tenants because the apartments were “particularly suitable” for refugees. The city is looking to rent the apartments directly to Ukrainians, according to the Focus media outlet.

However, there may be ulterior motives in place, as many of the residents have cheap rental agreements locked in and have been tenants for decades. New contracts with Ukrainian refugees would enable the housing association to create far more lucrative contracts, which Ukrainians could afford to pay because they are entitled to substantial sums of money through social welfare. Even for local governments, there can often be a motive to have tenants paying higher rents, as much of the money Ukrainians spend on rent would be federal money going into the town’s coffers.

An 81-year-old resident spoke to Basler Zeitung, lamenting the situation he was now facing.

“Where am I supposed to find an affordable apartment with my pension of €1,000?” he asked. His current rent is under €400, which still does not leave much at the end of the month. However, due to soaring rental prices across the country, and a housing crisis partly fueled by mass immigration, many elderly individuals living on pensions are being priced out.

Another tenant, 61-year-old Carmen Knoll, said he is shocked, adding, “I’ve lived here for 30 years, only get €600 in basic security and pension, and pay around €375 cold (price of rent without heat and electricity). I can’t afford higher rent.”

The housing association claims new housing will be made available to the tenants in the town of over 40,000 people. However, it is unclear why the housing was not “suitable” for the already existing tenants. It is also unclear why the Ukrainian refugees would not be placed inside the new housing the housing association claims it can find for the old tenants.

Manaf Hassan writes on Twitter, “That is no fake. Residents in Lörrach should vacate apartments for (Ukrainian) refugees. What has become of this country? What are these solutions?”

The letter begins by arguing to tenants that “as you know, Germany has had a significant influx of refugees from Ukraine and other regions of the world.”

“The accommodation of people who have fled is currently a major challenge for the municipalities,” writes the city in an official statement. “The city of Lörrach is currently dependent on housing that is available at short notice and is cooperating with the municipal subsidiary Wohnbau Lörrach, among others.”

An employee of the company told German news portal Junge Freiheit that “no one will end up on the street.”

However, the Baden-Württemberg state chairman of the German Tenants’ Association, Rolf Gaßmann, an expert in the field of tenant law, has already responded to the company’s move, basically saying there is no legal basis for evicting the existing tenants.

“According to tenancy law, the accommodation of refugees is not a reason for termination. A stupid, brazen letter from the housing association, which unfortunately only fuels anti-refugee sentiment,” he said.

Intimidation tactic

The letter may have been sent to the tenants as an intimidation tactic. The housing association is telling tenants they should meet for “one-on-one meetings” to discuss the issue, and according to Junge Freiheit, this practice is commonly used by landlords to coerce tenants into signing away their rights, which is especially effective against elderly individuals. It is also relevant that the housing association has not officially announced the terminations yet, and instead appears to be waiting for these meetings to move forward with its plans.

Some of the elderly tenants, such as 78-year-old Klaus Kichling, are already facing serious health issues. In fact, Kichling suffered from a stroke just a few years ago.

“This letter, for me, it’s an early death notice,” he said. He said that he did not believe the promised “individual solutions” will work out for him.

Although the housing association promises replacement apartments, it is unclear where they will be located or what condition they will be in. In fact, the letter uses vague language such as “needs-based” and “affordable” apartments, but it is unclear what these terms will actually result in for angry and scared tenants.

Interestingly, nearly 40 percent of the population of the town voted for the pro-migration Green party in the last federal election, which is the very same party that has arguably been the one demanding the country take in the most Ukrainian refugees.

According to a survey conducted by the INSA opinion research institute for the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, the majority of German citizens, 51 percent, believe their country is taking in too many refugees. Another 33 percent think the number is appropriate, and only 11 percent of respondents believe Germany should take in more people.

As Remix News reported last month, Germany’s conservative Alternative for Germany (AfD) leader, Alice Weidel, says Germany’s welfare state is under severe threat due to mass migration, and instead of granting citizenship to millions of migrants, the government should be closing the border.

Weidel says she sees the figures as an “unmistakable alarm signal for the welfare state.” The migration report shows the concerns over immigrants relying on the welfare state instead of entering the labor market are “more than justified.”

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