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Among other things, the recent amendment to the Environmental Impact Assessment Act has broadened the rights of (what is termed) the "affected public". The affected public consists primarily of various citizens' initiatives pursuing environmental or public-health purposes. It may for instance file an appeal against a negative decision at the screening stage (i.e., a decision according to which the given project does not require the issuance of an EIA report), and seek its annulment in court. The affected public has been granted a stronger voice also in subsequent procedures in which the fate of a building project is being decided: zoning proceedings and the proceedings on the issuance of a building permit. Taken together, these legislative changes may make it more difficult to implement projects which require an EIA report; in particular, the length of permission proceedings may be substantially extended.
GSK Stockmann + Kollegen advised the GEWA 5 to 1 GmbH & Co. KG in connection with the issuance of a real estate project bond in the amount of up to € 35 million. Following the issuance by the Cloud No. 7 GmbH this is the second bond issuance for the construction of an apartment and hotel tower that GSK Stockmann + Kollegen has provided advice on.
Parties to rental contracts for commercial premises often agree priority rental rights. In practice, this concept is used to cover a whole series of legal structures. These range from fixed options for the tenant to a promise made by the landlord as a business policy that if any additional premises become available, they will be offered to the tenant. In 2010 the Berlin Court of Appeal issued a ruling on such priority rental rights in insolvency; the decision has recently been published.
Equity currently appears easier to obtain than bank financing. Due to the changes in the financial sector, the financing of real estate acquisitions or project developments is more difficult than before the financial crisis. Banks are now requesting more equity. In addition, following Basel III (a new international regulatory framework for banks), the demand for equity will grow.
On 23 March 2007, the German lower house (Bundestag) passed a bill governing the creation of public limited real estate companies in Germany with listed shares (REIT Act). The draft bill was presented in detail in our last Newsletter. Following partial realisation of the amendments requested by the German upper house (Bundesrat), the REIT Act was approved by the latter at a meeting held on 30 March 2007. It now only requires execution by the German President and publication in the Federal Law Gazette to take retroactive effect as of 1 January 2007.