On 07.05.2021, the Bundestag passed the partly very controversial law on the mobilisation of building land. Before the law can enter into force, it thus only requires the approval of the Bundesrat and the completion of the promulgation procedure.
The primary objective of the law is to strengthen the municipality’s scope of action with regard to the creation of housing. In future, it will be easier for building permit authorities to grant exemptions from existing development plans, e.g. to allow loft conversions or extensions. Furthermore, the Building Land Mobilisation Act provides municipalities with a new instrument: a sectoral development plan, which enables the municipality to draw up a land-use plan specifically for housing construction. The law also contains an extension of the building requirement in order to be able to build on unused plots more quickly and thus close gaps between buildings more quickly, as well as the strengthening of municipal rights of first refusal for derelict plots and so-called “problem properties”.
The most controversial point, however, is the amendment of §250 BauGB, which prohibits the conversion of rental flats into owner-occupied flats. In regions with a tight housing market, owners can no longer easily convert their flats previously used for rental purposes into owner-occupied flats; in future, this will require approval by the competent authority. The exact regions that will be affected are still being specified by the Länder through independent legal ordinances. Exceptions to the conversion ban exist, among other things, in the case of sale to family members or the sale of individual flats from an apartment building.
Already after the federal cabinet approved the draft law on 04.11.2020, immense criticism of the law was voiced. In particular, the Building Land Mobilisation Act makes it more difficult to form property, as fewer flats and houses will be available for purchase on the market. Especially in economically difficult times, when not many investment opportunities yield returns, it is irresponsible to make it more difficult to build up property for the purpose of old-age provision. In response to the strong headwind, Federal Minister of Building Seehofer even called on his own ranks to vote against the bill. After a long struggle, the Bundestag passed the law after all – including amendments to §250 BauGB.

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