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Counteracting speculation

Vienna makes use of a variety of tools to provide land for affordable housing, and wohnfonds_wien is a key player towards this goal.


Acquisition of land for social housing construction

Since 1984, the Fund for Housing Construction and Urban Renewal (wohnfonds_wien) has been responsible for the acquisition and provision of plots for social housing construction and currently holds lots amounting to approx. 3.1 million sqm. Because of its reserves and long-term planning horizon, wohnfonds_wien is still able to purchase agriculturally cultivated or brownfield land on good terms despite increasing land prices.


Zoning as an instrument of land acquisition

Close co-operation between wohnfonds_wien and the city’s planning departments is important as it ensures that land is reserved for social housing in urban development areas. wohnfonds_wien as a socially responsible land developer is accountable to a board with strong public-policy interests. Sites are purchased in accordance with the Urban Development Plan (STEP) and in co-ordination with the City of Vienna. In addition, wohnfonds_wien acts as land developer for these sites. In this role, it also organises developers’ competitions as these have proved an effective tool.


The Urban Development Plan (STEP) is a tool of forward-looking urban planning and development, which generally defines the further step-by-step development of the city. It is generated by Municipal Department 18 (MA 18) – Urban Development and Planning in co-operation with other experts and departments.

STEP lays down the distribution of building land and green-belt land and also delineates development areas and defines their relationship with the overall transport infrastructure (Vienna Underground, suburban train lines, trams and high-level railway and motorway routes). Furthermore, it shows the spatial/functional relationships between the city and the surrounding areas.

“Subsidised Housing” zoning category – Combating speculation

Recent years have seen land and real-estate prices in many European cities spiralling out of control. To counteract this development, the City of Vienna amended its Building Code in November 2018 by introducing the “Subsidised Housing” zoning category. Thus, if a plot is classified as belonging to the “Subsidised Housing” category, two thirds of the useable floorspace created for housing purposes must as a rule be taken up by subsidised dwellings. This approach caps rents and safeguards that affordable dwellings will continue to be constructed across the entire city, which, in its turn, ensures another objective – a good social mix all over Vienna.

The “Subsidised Housing” zoning category is above all used in the reclassification of industrial or commercial areas as building land as well as, occasionally, when aiming to increase density in residential or mixed-purpose development zones as well as in connection with high-rise projects. It only applies to plots that will accommodate more than 5,000 square metres of housing space. The new zoning category is moreover linked to a sales ban – embodied in the land register – for the subsidised housing units constructed on such plots. This means that the City of Vienna has to approve the sale of these subsidised flats. The sales ban applies for the entire period of the subsidy granted.

For further information (in German)