© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel does not think expropriating apartments sold off to big private landlords is appropriate, her spokesman said on Monday, after thousands of Berlin residents demanded the expropriation of more than 200,000 such flats.Activists are collecting signatures for a ballot proposal that would require the city to take back properties from any landlord that owns more than 3,000 apartments. Polls suggest such a measure could pass, forcing the city to consider spending billions of euros buying privatized housing back.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said it was necessary to build more flats rather than expropriate existing ones.

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