Tuesday, April 09, 2019

New Zealand landlords have it easy

Landlords and house-hoarders are whining about the prospect of a capital gains tax forcing them to pay their fair share. But in Berlin, they have a different solution to controlling rising rents: forced expropriation:

Thousands of Berlin residents took to the streets on Saturday to vent anger over surging rents and demand the expropriation of more than 200,000 apartments sold off to big private landlords, which they blame for changing the character of the city.

Activists have started collecting signatures for a ballot proposal that would require the city to take back properties from any landlord that owns more than 3,000 apartments. Polls suggest such a measure could pass, forcing the city to consider spending billions of euros buying privatized housing back.

Demonstrators marched through the city center under a giant model shark. Banners read "against rent sharks and speculators".

"We have had very bad experiences with these property companies for years, and we know that they answer to their shareholders and not to tenants. We don't want them in our city any more," organizer Rouzbeh Taheri told Reuters television.

Unmentioned in that article: the expropriation would be at less than current market value, depriving corporate landleeches of windfall profits and capturing that value for the people.

The campaign needs only 200,000 signatures to force a referendum, which the polls say they'll win. I'm hoping they succeed. Because nobody likes a tax-cheating absentee landlord, no matter where they are, and the precedent on how to deal with them will be useful.