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Sep 26, 2015

germantown

02:46 27.09.2015  sputniknews

The authorities of Nieheim town in West Germany are forcing tenants out of public housing to make room for refugees, German newspaper Welt reported.

Nieheim resident Bettina Halbey, who has been living in her apartment for 16 years now, has to move out due to orders from the local municipality to turn her house into a refugee camp. The news comes amid growing concerns over how Germany will accommodate the endless flood of asylum-seekers into the country.

“On what grounds do they terminate rental contracts with residents in order to house refugees? There are plenty of empty properties in the town,” the 51-year-old nurse wrote in a post on her Facebook page, which was shared over 200,000 times.

The woman, who brought up her two sons as a single mother, has been living in a 90 sq/m apartment in a three-floor house with her dog and cat. On September 1, she and her neighbors received an eviction notice. In the notice, the local municipality explained that it is going to use the rental house as additional accommodation for refugees because the town’s three shelters have filled up.

“I was completely taken aback,” Halbey told Welt. “I find it impossible to describe how the city has treated me.”

The mayor of Nieheim, Rainer Vidal, told Welt that it was simply a cheaper option for the town because building a new residential unit for 30 refugees would cost £22,000, and evicting tenants costs nothing. The mayor also condemned Halbey for her move to go public with her complaints and noted that she had been given until May of next year to find new accommodation.

Halbey, who has helped refugees in the past, said that she wasn’t against taking in refugees and actually got along with those that moved into an apartment above hers last spring. However, she believes the refugee crisis is no excuse for asking tenants to leave. It is natural in Germany to rent homes for life, and tenants are strongly protected by law.

The situation has raised controversy over whether the municipality’s move is legal, invoking a law under which a private landlord can evict a tenant if he wants to move into the property himself.

As Germany is expected to receive between 800,000 and one million refugees this year, local authorities are processing their own accommodation strategies, such as a plan put forth by the state government of Hamburg to seize empty commercial properties and turn them into refugee shelters.

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