Hundreds of war refugees from Ukraine are being asked to move out of apartments provided to them by the Erzgebirge district in Saxony. Those receiving citizen’s allowances have to look for housing on the free rental market. But what happens if someone refuses?

The news caused a stir nationwide: The Erzgebirge district in Saxony has asked more than 1,000 Ukrainian refugees to vacate the asylum apartments provided by the district. The drastic step was justified by the fact that those affected receive citizen’s allowance and can therefore look for their own rental apartments.

“Receiving citizen’s allowance entails not only rights but also obligations,” explained District Administrator Rico Anton (CDU), thus providing a plausible explanation for the consistent course of his authority.

However, critics consider the treatment of women, children and men who have fled war and destruction to be inappropriate, even inhumane. The message is: lost everything at home – soon homeless in Germany?

When asked by FOCUS online, the district office in Annaberg-Buchholz strongly rejected such scenarios.

“So far, no apartments have been forcibly evacuated, nor has there been any reported homelessness,” the authority said. Based on previous experience, there is “reasonable confidence that solutions will be found even for difficult cases, such as large families.”

Those in charge emphasize that they are not taking the deadlines set for Ukrainians to move out so strictly. “If someone can prove that they are not moving within four weeks, but have found an apartment that they cannot move into for two months, then they will be treated with leniency.”

However, the office also explained to FOCUS online that forced evictions “cannot be ruled out.” “In extreme emergencies, solutions in temporary emergency accommodation are available to prevent homelessness.”

The district office finds it difficult to understand why the matter has caused such a stir in the media.

The Ukrainians concerned were informed in writing “as early as 2022” after they were classified as recipients of the citizen’s allowance that they would have to leave the apartments provided by the district and find their own accommodation.

“The district administration appealed at the time for the cooperation of war refugees from Ukraine,” said a spokesman for District Administrator Rico Anton, referring to the current legal situation. However, the appeal fell on deaf ears, so the next step had to be taken in autumn 2023.

War refugees from Ukraine were asked to leave their apartments rented from the district by the 15th of each month. If the landlord, such as a large housing company, was willing to sign a private rental agreement with the Ukrainians, they could stay in the apartment.

“Since the end of 2023, around 250 of around 650 usage contracts relating to 1,700 Ukrainians have been terminated,” according to the district office. This means that around 40 percent of the cases of “old usage contracts” have been resolved.

“For around 60 percent of the existing usage contracts, the procedure has not yet been opened or is currently being processed.”

Of course, the Ukrainians, who often do not speak sufficient German and are not familiar with the regulations in force here, are being given intensive support, according to the district office.

The current “guaranteed apartments”, the name of the accommodation rented by the Erzgebirge district at local prices, are mainly located in larger cities such as Annaberg-Buchholz, Aue-Bad Schlema, Zschopau, Stollberg and Marienberg. When the Ukrainians leave the apartments, they are usually used to accommodate asylum seekers.