Cities for Rent: Investigating Corporate Landlords Across Europe

Everyone needs a home, and even more during a pandemic.

High demand for rental flats across European cities has contributed to make housing a very attractive investment. At at time when many people can’t find an affordable and decent flat to live, reports of a huge increase in investment flows into housing across Europe go hand in hand with stories of abusive practices by ‘corporate landlords’, companies that buy and rent out housing for profit.

Where is all that money coming from? Who are the companies and investors buying so much housing across Europe? How does this phenomenon affect people’s lives and homes in European cities?

During more than seven months, a team of over 25 investigative and data journalists and visualisations experts from 16 European countries, have been working on the cross-border collaborative project Cities for Rent: Investigating Corporate Landlords Across Europe, coordinated by Arena for Journalism in Europe.

We wanted to find the data and visualise these developments, and document their effects on our cities and in people’s lives. We found that since the financial crisis international investment funds and housing corporations have been buying up homes across European cities. And there are different critical issues connected to this.

Read more about the investigation and find the stories published by the media partners.

Media partners for Cities for Rent: Investigating Corporate Landlords Across Europe:
– Austria, Vienna: ORF
– Belgium, Brussels: Apache
– Czech Republic, Prague: Deník Referendum
– Denmark, Copenhagen: Information
– France, Paris: WeReport (investigation and reporting) and Mediapart ( publishing partner)
– Germany, Berlin: Tagesspiegel
– Greece, Athens: AthensLive (English) and Reporters United (Greek)
– Ireland, Dublin: Dublin Inquirer
– Italy, Milan: IrpiMedia
– Netherlands, Amsterdam: Follow the Money
– Norway, Oslo: E24
– Portugal, Lisbon: Expresso
– Slovakia, Bratislava: Aktuality
– Spain, Madrid: elDiario.es
– Switzerland, Zurich, Reflekt (investigation and reporting) and Republik (publishing partner)

The investigation was supported by a grant from Investigative Journalism for Europe.

Join the new European network for journalistic non-profits

A new generation of news organisations is rising all across Europe – one that is strongly committed to serve its audience through public interest journalism and is eagerly trying to build up new, sustainable business models for our profession. In a joint effort Netzwerk Recherche and Arena for Journalism in Europe together with partners from academia (HBI, ZeMKI) and philanthropy (Schöpflin Stiftung) will – for the first time – bring together this emerging scene of journalistic entrepreneurs that we call The New Sector.

We identified close to a hundred news outlets all over Europe that are part of this journalistic evolution. We will soon create an online map and a searchable database of Europe’s vivid scene of journopreneurs in which we want to display the agility, versatility and creativity found among its members.

Parallel to the mapping effort our project aims at bringing The New Sector together – for now at least virtually. For a starter, we have successfully launched a mailing list with member organisations from more than a dozen countries (You can join the list here) in which we share experiences and offer opportunities for networking and collaboration. Our vision is to foster this fruitful and vital exchange by establishing a network of European independent public interest newsrooms in the near future.

For more information visit: https://www.thenewsector.org

The New Sector is run by:

The New Sector is supported by:

Get in touch: newsector@netzwerkrecherche.org

The Climate Networks reaches out at BETD

On Thursday, March 18 (10.30-11.30 CET), Arena for Journalism in Europe will be at Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD) Media Fellows – Connecting Journalists Conference to present the Arena Climate Network. Our network coordinator, Jelena Prtorić, will discuss the benefits and importance of networking, will introduce different elements and features of the Arena Climate Network and will talk about the future of network development and climate journalism in Europe (and beyond).

Here you can find the program for the day (constantly updated) and here you’ll find more information about the BETD conference.

If you haven’t done so already, join the Arena Climate Network / and follow us on Twitter. 

New resources on the way in The Arena Climate Network

Following Dataharvest Digital 2020, during which we dedicated two weeks to topics related to climate and energy, we launched the Arena Climate Network  – a community of investigative journalists and researchers covering climate change.

The Arena Climate Network aims to facilitate information flows between journalists (interested in) covering climate at the local, national and EU level, and give them an online space to share knowledge, opinions and data.

The network is comprised of several elements that cater to different needs of journalists and researchers:

An online meeting point for journalists/researchers/academics, a forum set up via the forum tool Discourse. It is a place you can share your work, relevant research, and important databases; get in touch with your peers, ask for help or find partners for your next cross-border investigation. There are several subtopics you can follow or engage in; you can also decide to mute the others you’re not interested in (and declutter your inbox a little).

We’ll soon add a feature that will allow you to search the users based on their skills and location (self-disclosed – don’t worry, we don’t gather any personal data!), which might come in handy if you’re looking to form a cross-border team or connect with a colleague in a specific country.

Sign in, take a look and join the conversation here: https://climate.journalismarena.eu/

Coming next:

The Climate Knowledge Base: an open-access library that is easily searchable and contains a list of “must-reads” for everyone researching/covering climate.

Secure leak infrastructure: Arena for Journalism in Europe is a recipient of the Digital Whistleblowing Fund grant, supporting grassroots organisations to integrate a secure leak infrastructure to their online platforms. This means that we will be able to confidentially and anonymously receive leaks and confidential documents via the Network. We are now finalising the tech side of the project, and the platform should be up and running by the end of February!

If you have any questions, doubts or ideas, you can get in touch with Jelena, the Network coordinator (jelena@journalismarena.eu). And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter  (@Arena__Climate)!

The Arena Housing Project is flying

The Arena Housing Project has recently experienced some of its busiest weeks as it has launched more tools and resources for journalists and researchers working on housing across Europe.

We have welcomed Jelena Prtorić as a Community Coordinator at Arena, and it’s in a big part thanks to hear that you can now follow the Arena Housing Project on Twitter, where we keep you updated about housing issues from a journalistic perspective and share collaborative resources.

We have also launched the Arena Housing Knowledge Base, a repository of useful and actionable data and information about housing. There you’ll find different kinds of resources (data sources and sets, media and other reports, policy and court cases, housing initiatives…) classified into seven topics: access to housing, big landlords, empty homes, homelessness, land ownership, short-term rentals, and social and public housing.

As cooperation among our network members becomes tighter and cross-border investigations start being discussed, we are now providing the network with a fully-fledged online collaborative environment: cloud and office tools, a wiki application, and a chat server. Now cross-border teams have ready the necessary online infrastructure to launch and and work on collaborative projects.

Of course, it all began with the Arena Housing List launched shortly after Dataharvest 2019, where the Arena Housing Project was born, and which now has now over 200 members, the big majority of them journalists interested in housing and spread all over Europe, and also academic researchers, policy experts and people from advocacy organisations and activist groups.

So many resources and web pages, so many links. But don’t despair, as there’s only one easy link you need to save or remember to find the Housing Project of Arena for Journalism in Europe: https://journalismarena.eu/housing

The coronavirus fuels journalistic collaborations

The coronavirus has given new aspects to the Arena Housing Project and the collaboration in the network – and at the same time, new problems arise in the housing field because of the virus.

The Arena Housing Project is a result of the Dataharvest 2019 conference, where many sessions focused on the housing crisis in Europe.

One of Arena’s main goals is to inspire, create and coordinate networks to promote and facilitate cross-border collaborative journalism. The present crisis has made even clearer how important collaborative journalism is when we want to research and report on complex issues that don’t care about borders. The Housing Network now has 176 persons affiliated – mainly journalists, but also housing experts from academia, activists and others.

We build resources together – shared databases and interactive map

Everybody was told to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus. But what about those who don’t have a home? The homeless population is vulnerable even at the best of times, and they are especially at risk during the Covid-19 pandemic because they have little access to hygiene, and many have bad health. Continue reading “The coronavirus fuels journalistic collaborations”

COVID-19 pushes flats from Airbnb to the long-term rental market

This week, the Arena Housing Project published its first piece of curation journalism. The text gives an overview of how Airbnb investors are moving their flats to the long-term rental market – and lets you take the next step in the research and reporting.

As the global pandemic of COVID-19 has brought tourism and travelling to a halt, nice-looking flats that previously were only offered at daily rates on platforms like Airbnb have been appearing as long-term rentals in cities across Europe.

Housing watchers, however, assume those flats will go back to the tourism market as soon as people can travel again.

For critics of tourist rental platforms, this is further proof that the likes of Airbnb are turning housing into an investment object: when homes become a financial asset to exploit for profit rather than a public good Continue reading “COVID-19 pushes flats from Airbnb to the long-term rental market”