Rising energy prices: German housing co-op limits hot water
A housing cooperative in Dippoldiswalde in Saxony has landed itself in hot water after it announced to tenants that it would be attempting to save energy by switching off their heating and hot water during certain hours of the day.
Saxon housing cooperative restricts heating and hot water
With energy costs rising across the country, landlords in Germany are being asked for advance payments from utility providers, and in some cases struggling with the costs. In a last-ditch attempt to make savings, a housing cooperative that manages around 600 apartments in the eastern town of Dippoldiswalde has taken the drastic step of reducing the supply of central heating and hot water.
In a Facebook post that was doing the rounds on Tuesday, the cooperative’s housing board announced that it would be turning tenants’ heating off completely until September, and switching off the hot water supply outside of the hours of 4am and 8am in the morning, 11am and 1pm in the afternoon, and 5pm and 9pm in the evening. The change has been implemented in around 300 houses since July 1.
The notice explained: “The prices for gas and electricity continue to rise. As we already announced at the members’ meeting, we now have to save for the winter.” Board member Falk Kühn Meisegeier added, “It’s not about annoying the tenants, but about adjusting, otherwise we might not be able to pay next year.”
Turning off hot water is illegal in Germany
The move was roundly slammed on social media, with people describing it as “crazy” and an “unbelievable cheek.” Politicians and consumer associations have also weighed in on the issue, with Federal Housing Minister Klara Geywitz stating, “Simply temporarily turning off the hot water is illegal.”
The German Tenants’ Association added that the move could entitle tenants to a reduction in their rent. “An apartment is free of defects [only] if hot water is available 24 hours a day,” explained spokesperson Florian Bau, emphasising the tenant’s legal right to hot water.
However, the President of the Central Association of the Housing Industry, Axel Gedaschko, defended the move on the basis that it was permissible for a housing cooperative. “The purpose is energy and cost savings, which will only benefit the cooperative members, and not the landlords.”
However, he warned that this was not a model for other housing companies, who would first have to seek a mutual agreement with their tenants before making any move to restrict the hot water supply.