Deutsche Wohnen > company

Founded by Deutsche Bank in 1998, Deutsche Wohnen is a publicly listed residential property company, now Germany’s second-largest following a series of targeted acquisitions. With around 100,000 apartments in its portfolio, it is the largest landlord in Berlin. Deutsche Wohnen has numerous properties once owned by GEHAG, the municipal housing company that hired Bruno Taut as its chief architect upon its founding in 1924. GEHAG was privatised by the Berlin state government in 1998, the result of a political decision that is now difficult to fathom given the city's current tight housing market and rapidly rising rents.

Following a number of takeovers on the financial markets and targeted purchases of GEHAG’s erstwhile holdings, Deutsche Wohnen became the largest owner of World Heritage housing estates in Berlin. Its portfolio includes the Carl Legien estate, Siemensstadt, nearly all of White City and all multi-storey residential buildings in the Horseshoe Estate (the remaining homes have been mostly converted into private properties). Deutsche Wohnen sees itself as an heir to the GEHAG tradition and in recent decades has invested vast sums in the preservation of its listed buildings. The company spent almost €23 million ($25.4 million) to restore the Onkel-Toms-Hütte housing estate in Berlin-Zehlendorf under the preservation rules for listed buildings, although the estate narrowly missed inclusion on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2008.

Nevertheless Deutsche Wohnen, which has a profit-oriented rental policy, has been subject to much criticism in politics and the media. Points of contention include the refurbishment of the Otto Suhr Estate and the purchase of sections of Karl-Marx-Allee planned in late 2018. However, no such concerns were raised in 2013, when Deutsche Wohnen acquired the former municipal housing company GSW and its extensive stock of rental housing.

Another takeover took place in 2021, when the two biggest German real property owners merged and Deutsche Wohnen SE became part of the Vonovia SE.