Homes and Customers
Needs-based Housing (demographic change)
Society is changing due to demographic change, and our client base is shifting as a result. Due to the growing proportion of older people in the population, the need for housing suitable for the elderly is also increasing. Compared against the demand expected by then, there will be a shortage of around two million senior-friendly apartments in Germany by 2035. At the same time, older tenants also want to stay longer in their own homes and remain independent. Maintaining and improving the quality of housing through needs-based expansion and renovation is therefore of particular importance. With this in mind, we are pushing the development of needs-based housing through maintenance, modernization, new constructions, and appropriate renovation where possible. Again and again, it becomes apparent that designing an apartment to be senior-friendly does not always have to entail the high and thus cost-intensive requirements of barrier-free design, e.g., those specified by the corresponding DIN standard. Effective solutions for older tenants can often be achieved with moderate measures that can also be implemented at low cost.
We want our tenants to live safely and healthily in their own homes and to be able to plan their long-term future there.
We are preparing for demographic change by consistently focusing on needs-based expansion and renovation and with corresponding market-oriented, customized offers – e.g., for people with mobility impairments. Homes that are completely barrier-free, according to German industry standard DIN 18040-2, are only necessary in very rare cases. Rather, a small number of measures, such as the fitting of non-slip flooring or flush-to-floor showers, are often sufficient to significantly increase the level of living comfort in old age. We check which measures have the best possible effect on our apartments to ensure that our tenants remain in them. New leases in particular offer us a good window of opportunity to carry out appropriate renovation measures. In Austria, all new buildings are constructed in such a way that they can be adapted to meet future needs. In doing so, we are following the respective building regulations and OIB guidelines as well as other standards, using these as a basis for planning barrier-free and accessible new buildings.
In addition, we are continuously expanding our range of social services and partnerships and our investments in the social infrastructure of our neighborhoods in order to meet the needs of our tenants.
To highlight the importance of this topic for Vonovia, we have included the proportion of new leases that are (partially) modernized accessible apartments in the Sustainability Performance Index (SPI) in 2020, thereby anchoring it as a parameter relevant to the company’s management.
performance metric from 2021
Proportion of accessible (partially) modernized apartments
Responsibility for the senior-friendly housing programs lies with the Chief Rental Officer (CRO). The structure of the renovation program is managed centrally and is implemented via the regions. Changes affecting the structural condition of our buildings are usually conducted by the technical service department.
In Austria, needs-based refurbishments and renovations are carried out in close coordination between the technical real estate management and regional/asset management. In the development stage, we determine and define the location and project-specific housing breakdown, as well as their features and fittings, in advance.
Objectives and Measures
Vonovia has set itself the target of modernizing around 30% of its newly rented apartments every year in order to meet the demands of an aging society. During modernization measures in existing buildings and in our neighborhoods, we check whether and where they can be made more accessible and implement appropriate measures wherever possible. We mostly achieve this with partial modernizations, which is our way of keeping the product affordable. This allows us to retrofit apartments one by one, ideally according to the stage of life of our customers, in line with their needs. When planning construction and modernization work, we also consider adapting the size of apartments.
We also build and design apartments so that groups with special requirements, e.g., people living with dementia, can also feel at home with us. We supplement this with voluntary additional renovations, e.g., in the form of ramps and handrails for people with disabilities or by using digital assistance systems. At their own request, tenants can also book various custom modernization measures. These include bathroom and kitchen improvements, security features, and, since 2020, garden improvements.
We have included the metric of accessible (partial) modernization* for Germany in our Sustainability Performance Index (SPI) and review our progress in this regard on a quarterly basis.
In 2020, we (partially) modernized around 10,300 apartments to make them fully accessible and senior-friendly. This is approx. 30.1% of the total of around 34,000 new leases nationwide. In Sweden, we are creating new living space by converting storage and laundry rooms into modern ground-floor apartments with their own terraces.
in Germany (partially) modernized
for the elderly (over 30% of new rentals)
In addition to the structural measures, we believe that social infrastructure also plays an important role. As such, we are also investing in alternative forms of housing with more extensive support services. This is in addition to building extensions suitable for senior citizens and the disabled, e.g., for residential communities for people with dementia, such as the one in Essen. This also includes care and support services for older tenants in cooperation with social institutions and service providers. We want to understand our customers and target groups even better. That’s why we have started dialogue with women’s organizations in Austria, as well as initiatives that advocate senior-friendly homes, e.g., JUNO, ROSA and Kolokation.
Planned for 2021
- Continuation of accessible new build and conversion projects
- Continuation of investments and projects to strengthen the social infrastructure of neighborhoods
- Initiation and implementation of partnerships with social institutions