Buy Back Berlin is a map that was developed within the framework of the CMMM research project, and accompanied the wider activities of AKS Gemeinwohl and Kollektiv Raumstation since March 2020. Building on lessons learned from the rich housing justice scene and various existing maps, we aim to communicate information and prompt (counter)action within the context of commoning Berlin’s housing market. It is the result of various exchanges within our networks. And we are particularly grateful for the support of the contributors (see below) and the visual intelligence team.

CMMM – Critical Mapping for Municipalist Mobilization is a 3.5-year research project that brings together an international team from Belgrade, Barcelona, and Berlin. It is hosted at K LAB, TU Berlin, supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and implemented in collaboration with Ministarstvo Prostora (Ministry of Space) (BGD), Observatori DESC (BCN), AKS Gemeinwohl (BLN), Kollektiv Raumstation (BLN), and Haüser Bewegen GIMA Berlin-Brandenburg e.G. (BLN). In parallel to this Berlin-based map, the Barcelona Team developed their Stop Evictions! map, and the Belgrade Team produced their How (un)affordable is housing in Belgrade? map.


As briefly noted in Our Map subsection, Buy Back Berlin focuses on the RPE instrument: the municipal right of preemption (right of first refusal). Our map builds on a process of various exchanges within our local networks, including the two workshops Who Buys Berlin (Aug. 2020) and Commoning Berlin – But How? (April 2021) with participants from various backgrounds.[1]

The concept and structure of this map are based on the three CORNERSTONES: information, solidarity, and action, which represent the kind of change we imagine and seek. In addition, Buy Back Berlin is a mapping process and collective online tool that:
• Echoes and builds on ongoing debates and demands of initiatives to increase pressure for specific, targeted political action related to housing property sales and RPE (e.g., 23HäuserSagenNein, Initiativenforum, Mietshäuser Syndikat)
• Builds on former and existing approaches, projects, and maps (instead of reinventing the wheel), such as Leerstandsmelder, Karte der Verdrängung, or Wem gehört die Stadt? with new layers
• Provides tenants with helpful, easy-to-read information and contacts to supportive networks and organizations in case he/she/they want to work to self-organize to buy back the house in which they reside, or to do so in collaboration with local authorities.

Therefore, this map consists of two complementary components. One component contains information on (un)successful RPE cases. The other is interactive and allows you show that you NEED INFORMATION, want to TAKE ACTION or OFFER SUPPORT to others.


Until the 'BVerwG' court ruling that abolished it in November 2021, the municipal right of preemption (right of first refusal, RPE) was an instrument municipalities could use, together with tenants and socially responsible real-estate companies, to intervene against hyper-marketization, albeit a weak one.

Until 31.12.2020, the RPE was successfully applied to 80 properties with 2,303 apartments. During that same time, the prospect of applying the right of preemption led to waiver agreements for 292 properties with 7,352 apartments.

Thus far, there is no data showing how many of these cases where reversed or undermined by the court decision in 2021.

Our map shows the RPE cases until end of 2019. There is evidence of a steady increase in successful cases until 2021, but no geo-coded data available.


Our goal is to use real cases to inspire and mobilize people to find ways to prevent the selling of their houses to profit-oriented bodies and instead help pass properties into safe hands (e.g., cooperatives, foundations, state-owned enterprises, the tenants themselves). In addition, we aim to push for new policies regarding the right of access to information and to bring back the RPE in a stronger format – see and download the poster.

Our map is intended to serve as a tool to help you find out what is going on in your Kiez (neighborhood) and in others, and to help you self-mobilize. We hope that in the years to come the map and all its layers will continue to grow and that it can be used to exert pressure on the relevant authorities and help reclaim the RPE and to combat the commercialization of our cities and homes.


The databased layer showing the RPE Properties (icon: key) includes entries that were acquired from the ‘Schriftliche Anfrage Drucksache’ Nr. 18/ 21194 of 26.09.2019. We thought it will be a starting set and others will follow, the 2021 court ruling changed this.

The statistics on RPE until 2020 shown above were acquired from the (link: text: 'Mitteilung Drucksache 18/3638 über die Wahrnehmung von Vorkaufsrechten'

In late summer 2023, we opened this map to the public to add entries to the geo-marked database in the three interactive layers of the map: Need Information? (icon: house with “?”), Take Action! (icon: house with “!”), Offer Support (icon: orange asterisk).


200 Häuser Netzwerk
23 Häuser Sagen Nein
AmMa 65 e.V.
ASUM Mieterberatung
Bezirksamt Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Abteilung für Bauen, Planen und kooperative Stadtentwicklung
Christoph Trautvetter
Frag den Staat
Initiativenforum Stadtpolitik Berlin
Leerstandsmelder Berlin
Natalie Sablowski
Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung – Projekt „Wem gehört die Stadt“
Seume14 e.V.

Developed by

The CMMM project is supported by:


© 2023 - version 2.0
Concept and structure: CMMM BLN and K LAB
Design and programming: visual intelligence
Authors: Julian Zwicker, Nija-Maria Linke
Editors: Andreas Brück, Katleen De Flander, Natasha Aruri
This map is part of the practice-oriented research project CMMM – Critical Mapping in Municipalist Movements
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