Press release Wagenburg Kanal e.V.

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Berlin, March 18th 2015

Liegenschaftsfonds state living with refugees as a reason to terminate the tenancy
Once again the living and cultural project space „Wagenburg Kanal e.V.“ in Berlin, which has existed for 25 years, is facing existential problems.

In 2010 the project had to move from Mitte to the new place in Kiefholzstraße in Neukölln, which is administrated by the Berliner Liegenschaftsfonds. Two years ago the contract with the Liegenschaftsfonds has expired and we are negotiating the terms of a new contract. From the start of this contract revision, the Liegenschaftsfonds has tried to increase the rent, which brings multiple problems for the project. In addition, the newest draft includes racist terms, which make an agreement impossible.

The Liegenschaftsfonds insists on a clause in the contract which defines that „giving shelter“ or „accommodating“ refugees is a reason for the immediate termination of the tenancy. Other contractual rights of termination do not apply in this case.

The draft contract states that: „[…] the contract is immediately terminated […] if the Wagenburg Schwarzer Kanal e.V. gives shelter to refugees on the rented space.

and further: „any unagreed use of the area […] gives the landlord the right to an extraordinary termination without notice. In particular, this includes exceeding the maximum number of caravans and the accommodation of refugees.”

These terms are neither compatible with the articles of association of the queer community project Kanal, nor with the „Allgemeine Gleichbehandlungsgesetz“ (General Act on Equal Treatment, AGG). The Liegenschaftsfonds seems to completely ignore both of them.
We will not sign this contract. It implies that the Kanal is a homogenous German white project, which „gives shelter“ to refugees out of charity. But this project consists of different groups with different people. We are as well refugees, People of Color, Roma, non-German, Black. We are more and less and in different aspects privileged and/ or marginalized people, who live and fight together in solidarity.

We will not be torn apart!

These terms are racist and unbearable. We decided to publish these quotes from the contract and make them available to a wider public. As a company of the government, the Berliner Liegenschaftsfonds has a political responsibility. This contract negotiation is not a private matter. They work with privatization and gentrification as an instrument of neoliberal restructurings of the city. As such, the institutional racism and classism is implemented into the space of the city. In this case they strategically try to segregate us.

During previous contract negotiations in 2013 the Liegenschaftsfonds already warned the project, that there were complaints from the neighbors “witnessing people of Romanian origin coming in and out of the space”. We are outraged, that the racist complaints of individual neighbors remain unquestioned and legitimized by the Liegenschaftsfonds as they included them in our negotiations. They justified their warning with the argument, that they “wouldn’t want to have a 2nd Oranienplatz”. We positioned ourselves extensively to this outrageous argumentation at the time, deeming this approach very problematic and racist.

A contract which forbids people the access to the project on the basis of their origin or residence status is out of question for us.

The actions of the Liegenschaftsfonds are not an isolated case, but part of daily procedures. Self-determined living is made impossible. The right to choose ones’ living situation is by far not granted to everyone. For people who do not fit normative ideas of German society, it is increasingly difficult to find a living space.

Families often have to sleep in pensions, emergency accommodations, camps or on the streets, because nobody is willing to rent a flat to them.

After a failed eviction of the self-organized space in the Gerhardt-Hauptmann-School the city plans to change it into a camp without further ado. The entrance is already controlled by security-personnel.

Pegida & co feel legitimized to proclaim racism and xenophobia in all of Germany.

The contractual claims of the Liegenschaftsfonds are part of this wider political climate. Within this context it is all the more unacceptable that an institution like the Liegenschaftsfonds does not hesitate using this clause in a rental agreement.

For self-determined living space and self-determined life for everyone!!

Solidarity with the Gerhard-Hauptmann-School!

We will all stay!
For more information, we are available by email: kanal@squat.net or personally (after arranging a meeting).