The house on the street Bornheimer Landwehr is typical for the year of construction 1970. Before the first oil crisis, energy consumption did not play a major role – heating costs are correspondingly high today. The community of owners wants to lower this and plans to insulate the façade, replace the windows and install a solar system. However, the building inspectorate said that the planned measures could not be approved, and a building application would be rejected. "There's no such thing," says co-owner Aniko Kovacs-Bertrand. This is because the city has set itself the goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2035. "The requirement to renovate the existing building stock and the milieu protection statutes contradict each other," says architect Stephan Mosetter, who is in charge of the renovation.

Günter Murr

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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The reason for this is the so-called milieu protection statutes. There are 14 of them in the Frankfurt city area, parts of Bornheim are also included. The aim is to protect the composition of the resident population. Therefore, rents should be kept as low as possible. However, since the costs for modernization can be passed on to the tenants, only what is absolutely necessary or required by law is permitted. Savings due to lower heating costs are not taken into account.

"Windows are still good"

At the house on the Bornheimer Landwehr, the city is bothered by the planned replacement of the windows. "We were told that they were still good," says property manager Matthias Rausch of the talks with the building inspectorate. But according to architect Mosetter, the planned modernization only makes sense if the entire building envelope is well insulated and there are no cold bridges. And if you put up scaffolding anyway, you can replace the windows without much additional effort, says property manager Rausch. In his opinion, a photovoltaic system would also fit well on the roof. "But the city doesn't want that for visual reasons."

The house has 15 apartments. One-third of the owners live there themselves, two-thirds are rented. They are relatively small apartments, the rent is twelve euros upwards per square meter – a usual amount for the location. But the quality of living is not always right. Their tenants complained of mold on the wall, Kovacs-Bertrand reports. They waited for the renovation she had promised them – without suspecting that there might be problems.

"Some of the apartments are harmful to health," says Mosetter, who attributes the mold to the poor physical condition of the building. It will probably stay that way for the time being. He won't even apply for a building permit, says the architect. Because this would only be rejected anyway. Werner Merkel, who, as chairman of the board of the Association of Real Estate Managers in Hesse, observes this and similar cases, cannot understand this. "That's how the houses rot."

The house on the Bornheimer Landwehr is not an isolated case. Just a few weeks ago, the F.A.Z. reported on a homeowner who is being put in the way of the planned renovation of a house on Berger Straße. There are problems not only with the energy-efficient renovation, but also with the plan to create additional living space by adding storeys.

Owner gives up

In response to the report, Wolfgang Pöschl, owner of a house near the Scheffeleck on the Anlagenring, got in touch. A milieu protection statute also applies to this situation. Pöschl wanted to renew the roof of the house built in 1955 with nine apartments and also insulate it at the same time. However, since the ceiling of the top residential floor is already insulated, all further insulation measures go beyond the minimum standard in the eyes of the city – and are therefore inadmissible. The building application was recently rejected, which was announced by the building inspectorate in a letter at the end of April. The planned construction measure would affect the objectives of the preservation statute, since "the energy-efficient renovation of existing buildings can in principle lead to rent increases and thus possibly to a displacement of the resident population".

But he doesn't want to increase the rent at all, Pöschl assures. He has never done that with modernizations. "Satisfied tenants are much more important to me." At this point, the city's argument becomes very special. It does not matter at all whether the individually affected residents are actually displaced, according to the letter from the building inspectorate. "Rather, it is sufficient if the construction project or its exemplary effect are generally suitable for triggering such a risk of displacement." Wolfgang Pöschl no longer wants to deal with such formulations. He cancelled the renewal of the roof, in which he wanted to invest around 100,000 euros, and terminated the loan agreement with the bank.

Other owners are waiting for the city to present a concept for reconciling energy-efficient refurbishment and milieu protection. This was already announced last year – so far without a concrete result.