Forty people living in an apartment building in the German city of Lörrach have been given eviction notices as the government makes room for refugees.
Lörrach accepted 638 refugees in 2022, and they will be accepting 356 more in 2023, the city explained in a Monday news release.
The largest real estate and service company in the district is Wohnbau Lörrach, which has properties that consist of about 4,070 apartments and 100 commercial units in the city, according to their website.
To house the refugees that will be arriving in Lörrach, the city has announced an agreement with the residential complex to rent out the buildings.
However, in order to make room for the incoming refugees, 40 current tenants at the residential buildings on Wölblinstrasse have had their rental agreements terminated.
“The accommodation of people who have fled is currently a major challenge for the municipalities,” the city wrote in a letter to tenants, according to German news outlet Focus Online. “The city of Lörrach is currently dependent on living space that is available at short notice.”
“However, we will offer you alternative, suitable housing and support you in moving, also financially,” read the letter, which has been translated from German to English.
The mayor of Lörrach, Jörg Lutz, and the managing director of the Wohnbau Lörrach residential complex, Thomas Nostadt, discussed the decision at a recent press conference.
The mayor said that the need to house refugees justifies the termination, but many of the current tenants have expressed their shock and outrage at the move.
The “heated mood,” as described by Lutz, has reportedly drawn threats and hate letters, according to Focus.
In response to this, the city and residential building will not be holding a tenant meeting at this time, Lutz and Nostadt announced.
However, the city will aid current tenants after their eviction by offering them an “alternative, suitable living space,” as well as financial support to help them move out. If tenants refuse to leave, they will be charged a significantly higher rent, Focus reported.
The German Tenants’ Association has responded to the termination of current rental agreements held by tenants, describing the move as illegitimate.
“According to tenancy law, the accommodation of refugees is not a reason for termination,” said Rolf Gaßmann, the state chairman of the association, according to Focus.
He also bashed the letter from the city, saying that it would only “[fuel] anti-refugee sentiment.”
Residents facing eviction have also spoken out about the termination.
“I’m shocked,” senior citizen Carmen Knoll said, according to Focus. “I’ve lived here for 30 years, only get 600 euros in basic security and pension, and pay around 375 euros cold. I can’t afford higher rent.”
Fellow tenant Samuel Multner added that he had a three year rental agreement but will now be forced to leave after only five months.
“It’s a mess how we’re being treated here,” he said.
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