With renovation against vacancy

Interview with Anja Eckmann, Managing Director of Wohnungsverwaltung und Bau GmbH Löbau

Wohnungsverwaltung und Bau GmbH Löbau renovated heritage building

While there is a shortage of housing elsewhere, the city of Löbau in the Görlitz district suffers from vacancies. Wohnungsverwaltung und Bau GmbH Löbau, one of the largest landlords in the area, has set itself the goal of changing this. Their focus is on creating attractive and affordable living space – not least through energy renovation.

In a district town like Löbau in Saxony with 17,000 residents, the situation on the housing market is different from that in a large city, says managing director Anja Eckmann, who previously worked in the real estate industry in Berlin. She speaks of a dilemma: "We have many buildings here in a fully renovated condition, but they are not energy-efficiently renovated. On the other hand, unlike in large cities, there are many vacant buildings. Due to the vacancy, landlords are missing money. Economic activities are further complicated by political directives. Moreover, rent cannot be increased if the condition of the apartments does not meet standards."

However, she has a suggestion for a solution: "The buildings should be brought into good condition with the help of funding. If renovated living spaces are offered, there is also interest." Her wish is for municipalities to receive more support. "If they are offered prospects in working life, more people would come here," Anja Eckmann is convinced.

Anja Eckmann, Managing Director of the Housing Management and Construction Ltd Löbau
Anja Eckmann, Managing Director of the Housing Management and Construction Ltd Löbau

She finds the grant policy for energy renovation too general because: "Many cities in Germany do not have the problem of vacancies."

Service for tenants

Wobau Löbau is a 100% subsidiary of the city of Löbau. 15 employees work in the company. The annual turnover is just over five million EUR. Rented are one to five-room apartments as well as a few commercial properties. About Wobau Löbau's apartment renters, Anja Eckmann says: "The average age is quite high. Many young people have moved away. However, quite a few people born between 1970 and 1980 are returning to Löbau."

Housing Management and Construction GmbH Löbau Renovated Listed Building
Renovated listed building
Apartment Management and Construction GmbH Löbau Barrier-Free Bathroom
Barrier-free bathroom in a renovated, listed building

Your company can particularly convince in the service area. "We are always approachable and take the tenants seriously with their problems and concerns. Defects are fixed immediately or promptly," emphasizes the managing director. The apartments are fundamentally open to all people.

Reduce vacancies

At Wobau Löbau, Anja Eckmann can contribute her entire experience from Berlin. One of her goals is to further reduce vacancy rates. "I want to make the buildings attractive so that the demand for living space increases. This can only be done step by step," she explains. It is important to her to also give tips to the employees on how to deal with the tenants.

Tenant retention is important to her in this context. This includes responding to tenant requests. Wobau Löbau has so far greatly benefited from funding for protected buildings, says the managing director: "Those that we have renovated are fully rented. Our success results from renovation and modernization. This can only be done with funding."

With motivation to success

That Anja Eckmann enjoys her work has several reasons. The working atmosphere is good, she says. "This is also very important to me. I am convinced that good cooperation leads to more motivation and benefits the product," she says. She plans to continue renovating effective properties and thus significantly reduce vacancies. Also, thinking about one or another sale will be considered.

"It's about minimizing costs on one side and investing on the other," she explains. That the housing industry is "totally intertwined" fascinates her. Moreover, she enjoys improving things in the region. "I also like working with people. And last but not least, numbers are my great passion - I like finance and controlling as a field," says the managing director.