The controversial city councilor for building in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Florian Schmidt (Greens), has been reprimanded by the administrative court. The reason for this are several statements about the owner of a rental house, which Schmidt now has to refrain from. The Administrative Court of Berlin has now decided by order at the request of the Munich-based owner.
So Schmidt had made an “untrue statement of fact”. Furthermore, he had expressed value judgments “which are not compatible with the requirement of objectivity” but were based “on irrelevant considerations” and which “were not based on any justifiably assessed core of facts”.
The district councilor “may only say the truth and not be irrelevant,” said the administrative court. Schmidt, however, as a public official, violated the fundamental rights of the owner. The omission was due to the risk of repetition.
In addition, the administrative court obliged the district office to no longer name the owner company, its address and shareholders in printed matter from the district councillors. The owner has a considerable constitutionally protected interest in this.
Specifically, it is about the renovation of the rental house at Graefestraße 13. In January 2020 there was a fire there. Since then, the tenants have not been able to return to the apartments because the owner is renovating the house and has to repair the damage caused by the fire.
Schmidt accused the owner of bad intentions in May. The newsletter “Tagesspiegel Bezirke” also reported on it. The Greens politician had claimed in the district assembly that the owner had not submitted certain requested documents.
In addition, Schmidt had said that it was “remarkable how delays, procrastination and attempts at evasion are apparently just in compliance with regulations, probably with the aim of evicting tenants and ultimately supplying this house with a high level of utilization”.
This is an “extreme example of speculation about the overexploitation of our housing structure”. Schmidt also told the “taz” that the owner was carrying out the renovation of the house “very slowly”. He assumes a “delay tactic” with which tenants “are to be worn down and driven to quit”.
[All breaking news live to your phone with our app, download here for Apple and Android devices.]
The administrative court now prohibited Schmidt from repeating these statements. Because Schmidt had “drawn the negative image of a purposefully acting owner who is delaying the renovation of apartments in order to end tenancies for reasons of speculation”. The owner submitted the documents required by the district office.
In addition, the district office itself approved the vacancy and even extended it. Nor did it take action against the owner under the law on misappropriation, but saw no reason for the building inspector to intervene. The district office must be accountable for the statements made by the city council. It can lodge an appeal against the decision with the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court (OVG).
Most tenants have not been able to return to their apartments for two and a half years, and a late night and a day care center are also affected. Several tenants accuse the owner of deliberately causing a vacancy. So far, the apartments have been cheap, some of the tenants had old leases. They fear that the owner would like to rent out the apartments again and at a higher price.
According to the construction schedule, the renovation should actually be completed by November 2021, Schmidt had explained. During an inspection in July, the district’s housing inspector found that renovation work in all the apartments could be seen at different stages.
[290,000 people, 1 newsletter: The Tagesspiegel newsletter for Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg is available here – full of debates, ideas, tips and dates: tagesspiegel.de/bezirke]
It was credibly shown that further damage, such as building materials containing asbestos and rotten beams, had been noticed during the renovation. “Therefore, the renovation concept was adapted and expanded,” said the district office. The construction schedule is conclusive. In January, the building and housing authority wants to check the construction progress again.
Tenant groups and representatives of the Left Party, on the other hand, accuse the building inspector of having “totally slept”. There have been no continuous renovation measures for two and a half years: “There were no craftsmen there for weeks and months, no measures were carried out.”