Milieu protection, conversion regulations, pre-emptive rights.

Milieu protection is the central social and property-economical topic complex in Berlin. Our presentation with milieu protection map provides a well-founded insight into the basics and background of milieu protection, conversion ordinance and pre-emptive rights in Berlin.

Milieu protection - so now what?

Many foreign property owners in Berlin are surprised by the milieu protection. What the Senate and districts regard as the strongest instrument against speculation with residential space on the Berlin real estate market, poses considerable problems for owners who own apartment buildings in areas under preservation regulations. The knowledge about this is usually only superficially available among owners, buyers, but also among tenants. Our little presentation serves as an introduction to the subject of milieu protection, conversion regulations and pre-emption rights. With our assistance, you can master the problems you face, especially when selling apartment buildings in protected areas. We show you how to achieve the best sales result despite comprehensive regulations and stipulations. For further information and a no-cost consultation, or for your marketing assignment to one of the leading professionals in Berlin, we are at your disposal. We look forward to your call.

Mileu protection map Berlin

In our milieu protection map for Berlin, we have precisely marked out the areas with conservation statutes (milieu protection areas), the research areas and areas with a resolution to set them up. We update the data continuously. Please contact us for further information.

What is the Conservation Statute (German: "Erhaltungssatzung")?

Milieu protection is the common language term for the legal instrument of the conservation statute according to § 172 et seq. of the building code, which the legislature gives to the municipalities. In Berlin, the municipalities correspond to the districts.

There are three types of conservation objectives:

  1. The preservation of the urban character of the area due to its urban design
  2. Preservation of the composition of the resident population (milieu protection)
  3. Urban restructuring

In Berlin, the focus is on the second point, "milieu protection". If a Berlin district wants to place an area under milieu protection, the district parliament (Bezirksverordnetenversammlung, BVV) must issue a milieu protection directive. You can find an example from the practice in Kreuzberg at the following (link).

How does a conservation area emerge?

In principle, any citizen, district parliament member (BVV) or party member can apply for an examination of a district. At BVV level, a decision is then made on which areas will be investigated as "suspicious areas" within the scope of a preliminary investigation. The procedure is generalized. An example from Neukölln illustrates the process. Beispiel

In the case shown here, the district authority is requested to identify potential milieu protection areas in Neukölln by means of a rough screening at the request of the district ordinances of the Green and Left parties. The investigations are to focus on "residential areas with a high proportion of rented apartments". You don't have to know Berlin's property market very well to know that around 100 percent of Neukölln's neighbourhoods fit into this scheme, with the exception of industrial and commercial areas.
If the first examination confirms a suspicious area, the district parliament decides on the concrete investigation of the area by means of a resolution to establish the area. From this point in time, i.e. even before a final decision, the administration can defer or prohibit applications for structural changes, changes in use and allocation according to §8 WEG for a period of up to 12 months.

In the next step, an environment survey is carried out using generalized data entry forms. In most cases, external companies are commissioned to prepare the expert opinions. Once the expert opinion is available, the BVV issues the Preservation ordinance. A decree from Kreuzberg "Südliche Friedrichstadt" with its preservation statute can be found here. (link)

The ordinance is effective upon publication in the official journal. From this date, the district may exercise pre-emptive rights.

Milieu Protection and Conversion Ordinance

For owners of residential buildings in Berlin, the application of the Conversion Ordinance is proving to be very disadvantageous. The districts are intervening in property rights with a series of measures.

Since March 2015, the conversion of apartment buildings into condominiums in protected areas has been subject to approval and is only permissible under certain conditions. For example, owners may only sell to tenants after allocation for the period of 7 years.

Pre-emption rights: Districts are trying to undermine trade with apartment buildings.

The favourite instrument of the districts, which is also being increasingly used, is the right of pre-emption of the municipality (district) when selling multi-family houses in favour of third parties, e.g. for municipal housing corporations. The Conversion Ordinance is in force until 13 March 2020, but can be renewed.

What is meant with conversion?

Non-divided apartment buildings are registered in the land register on one (1) page of the land register. When the apartment building is converted, a separate land register page is created for each unit in the house, apartment or commercial unit. After division, the apartment building in Berlin is composed of the corresponding number of land register pages. These units can be sold separately. The basis for a land register division is a certificate of completeness (German: Abgeschlossenheitsbescheinigung) and a declaration of division (German: Teilungserklärung).

The declaration of division is a legal instrument of the German residential property law and is regulated in § 8 Wohnungseigentumsgesetz (WEG). According to this, the property owner declares to the land registry office that ownership of the land plot is divided into co-ownership shares that are associated with condominium ownership of individual apartments (= condominium ownership, § 1 (2) WEG).

Accordingly, the declaration of division establishes the ownership of apartments and parts of apartments under the property law (§ 2 WEG). The declaration of division shows which parts of the building are privately owned and which are jointly owned. Furthermore, particular special usage rights (e.g. parking spaces) are recorded. The declaration of division is a prerequisite for the creation of the residential land registers.

The declaration of division shall be certified by the competent licensing authority on the basis of a division plan submitted by the previous owner. For this purpose, the authority checks the completeness of the utilisation units and whether the content of the partition plan corresponds to the building permit belonging to the property.

What measures may be taken on buildings in protected areas?

In areas under environmental protection, a large number of modernisation measures, conversions and changes of use are subject to approval. If the district considers that the existing population structure is endangered by construction measures, it may refuse permission to do so.
"Luxurious renovations" are to be prevented. The district in charge lists in the respective conservation ordinance what is to be considered as "luxury" or "contemporary standard" and specifies the criteria to be examined for the corresponding environmental protection area.
Nevertheless, unconditional measures have also been approved in protected areas. These are used to create a modern basic furnishing standards of an "average apartment".
The legislature distinguishes between measures under conservation law and building regulations.
Conservation measures that can be approved without conditions include, for example

  • the initial installation of central heating systems
  • Initial installation of bathrooms (with basic equipment features)
  • the basic equipment with sanitary, fresh water, waste water and electrical installations
  • Cable TV and intercom systems (audio only)
  • renewal of simple windows
  • the renewal of old heating systems (before 1985) and finally
  • insulation of hot water and heating distribution pipes.

In addition, there are a number of building regulations that are also approved, such as attic conversions, new construction, conversion of commercial buildings into residences, the addition of elevators that only open up the new living space, and some others.

Measures not acceptable for approval

  • Changes in floor plan with change in number of rooms or living space
  • Merging or dividing apartments
  • Merging of existing and new living space
  • Consolidation of existing residential units with commercial units
  • Construction of first balconies, terraces, loggias and conservatories larger than 4 m²
  • Attachment of second balconies
  • Fitted kitchens
  • Installation of second WCs, double hand basin, as well as installation of bathtub AND shower separately from each other
  • Underfloor heating system
  • Video intercom
  • Fireplace installation

Trust one of the best teams of experts in the German capital

Guthmann Estate offers you the highest possible security when selling your Berlin apartment building. We advise you in matters of environmental protection, conversion ordinance, pre-emption rights and purchase price reductions by the districts.

Give us a call or contact us here.

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