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Developments in building policy over the past 3 decades

From the birth of the Federal Republic of Germany, building issues have been an integral part of government policy. After the first Cabinet was formed under Konrad Adenauer, the Federal Ministry for Housing (Bundesministerium für Wohnungsbau) took up its work in 1949. In the early years after the devastating destruction of World War II, providing people with new homes was the most important task. The first Housing Act (Wohnungsbaugesetz) opened up funding options to revitalise the housing market. In this way, more than four million dwellings were created over the next 7 years.

Building activities over the next decade were characterised by urban enlargement and the acceleration of publicly funded housing construction. Those ten years also saw an increase in the number of commercial enterprises and the construction of large housing estates on the outskirts of cities. The amendment to the Housing Act and the introduction of the Federal Building Act (Bundesbaugesetz) were key milestones in this context.

Expansion slowed in the 1970s with the start of the oil crisis and growing environmental awareness among the public. The priority goal now was to refurbish existing buildings, also with a view to energy saving. The Urban Development Assistance Act (Städtebauförderungsgesetz) made urban blight the focus of comprehensive funding.

From 1989, the main concern of the ministry responsible for building - which by now had been renamed the Federal Ministry for Transport, Building and Housing - was to address the challenges arising from the fall of the Wall. To this end, a great deal of legislation had to be adapted to the new circumstances, or even newly drafted. The emerging key topics included sustainable urban development, which was aimed at combining environmental (Rio Summit, Agenda 21) and urban development issues (Istanbul conference, Habitat Agenda). In the following years the "Stadtumbau Ost" programme was set up to support urban restructuring in the new Länder. The measure was subsequently extended to the whole of the country.

A key issue for the coming decades will be energy efficiency upgrades for buildings as part of the Federal Government's energy transition (Energiewende). In line with this goal, on 23 May 2012 Germany's rent law was amended to divide benefits and obligations fairly between landlords and tenants, hence smoothing the way for building refurbishments.

Last update: 11.05.2015