Berlin flats left without heating and water since July
Residents living in a Deutsche Wohnen-owned block of flats in Berlin have been left without heating or running water since early July 2023.
Deutsche Wohnen residents left without heat and water
For almost four months now, residents living in a block of flats in Berlin’s Gropiusstadt have had to make the journey out to a container in front of their house to have a shower or go to the toilet.
Since a fire broke out in the cellar of the building on July 7, the building landlord, property giant Deutsche Wohnen, has failed to make repairs, meaning the 200 residents have been left without running water or heat. If they want to do the washing, a 10-minute walk is required to reach the two machines being shared between the 200 tenants.
Deutsche Wohnen has promised that the utility services will be fixed by December 8, but until then residents have been given one electric heater per flat as the autumn temperatures set in. They are limited to using one heater per flat so as not to overwhelm the power supply, and the property company has said it will give residents five euros per day to contribute to utility bills in the meantime.
Residents feel abandoned by Deutsche Wohnen
The majority of tenants living in the Gropiusstadt block are older, and for most the five euros doesn’t stretch to cover the cost of warming their flats with an electric heater.
Despite the disruption, tenants were expected to continue paying their full rent to Deutsche Wohnen until September. “I’ve not been able to sleep since the cellar fire,” 56-year-old Lutz Hepper told Berliner Zeitung. Hepper said that he was having to pee in a bucket in his house so as to not have to schlep outside to the container all the time and is losing patience with the company, “I’m about to snap,” he said.
As the wait goes on, 79-year-old resident Ingrid Gassmann has temporarily moved in with her daughter and just drops by to collect her post. “I find this life degrading,” Gassmann told the newspaper. Staying with her daughter works for now, but it is not a long-term solution, she explained.
Police investigating possible arson attack on Berlin flats
Hepper also has concerns that the fire will be an excuse to evict tenants who have been in the building for a long time. According to him, the majority of people who had their belongings damaged in the cellar fire were those who had not initially signed up to keep them there.
“That can be an excuse. Some think it is to get old tenants out,” the U-Bahn driver told Berliner Zeitung, adding that he thinks that the landlord could get 800 euros per month for his flat which he currently rents for 520. Like most of Germany, the housing crisis in Berlin means that rents have shot up in recent years.
Of course, Hepper’s suspicions cannot be verified at the moment. An investigation into signs of arson by fire experts in the German police is ongoing and should reveal more conclusive details.
Thumb image credit: Mickis-Fotowelt / Shutterstock.com