Rent Freeze #1: The Experiment


Radio Spaetkauf Presents: Rent Freeze #1: The Experiment

What happens when an entire city of 3.5 million residents stops paying rent increases for the next five years? Welcome to Rent Freeze, a podcast about Berlin’s rental revolution.

Berlin is about to introduce the Mietendeckel, a law that will freeze rents for five years, cap new rental contracts at a maximum price, and allow some tenants to claim a rent reduction. Supporters say it will be the best thing to happen to the city since the fall of the Wall

But investors and landlords are outraged. They say the reforms will scare off businesses, leave houses unbuilt and in disrepair, and feed a grey market for off-the-books rental as desperate Berliners try to find a flat.

On this episode we explain the basics of the law, and talk to Daniel Halmer of Wenigermiete.de about why the existing rent controls haven’t worked.

Produced and presented by Joel Dullroy, Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern. Artwork by Jim Avignon. Music by Tom Evans and Ducks!. Recorded by Stefan Lindner.
Rent Freeze is a production of Radio Spaetkauf and RadioEins.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts here.

RS Live: Everything Is Closing


Some of Berlin’s most infamous nightclubs are closing as investors cash in on their properties. Grießmühle is almost gone, and KitKatClub may be forced out by the summer. What’s different about this round of club closures? And what could the city do to save its culture?

In Berlin’s monocultural housing estates, some kids never meet people of other religions. Shalom Rollberg changes that by offering after-school activities, taught by Jewish volunteers. We meet founder Yonatan Weizman. He says the program should be expanded from Muslim to German neighbourhoods to fully tackle antisemitism. You can help out here: https://shalom-rollberg.de

Konrad Werner joins us to talk about racist street names in Berlin. Konrad is the co-host of Megan’s Megacan, a weekly show about German news: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/megans-megacan/id1406002313

Anyone else annoyed by bad English grammar on advertising? Companies spend thousands on billboard ads that seem to be computer translated. We critique the latest offensive example from a website offering AI-based flatmate matching. Hopefully their code is better than their copy.

Berlin’s rent freeze is coming, and so is our new spin-off series about this radical new housing policy. The first episode of Rent Freeze will appear in your podcast feed shortly!

Thanks to Tom Evans for sound engineering, and Comedy Cafe Berlin for hosting our show.
Hosts: Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern.
Support us with a donation! https://steadyhq.com/en/radiospaetkauf

RS Xmas Market Special at Gendarmenmarkt


Maisie, Dan and Joel meet at Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market to catch up on the news.

Berlin’s advertising boards are full of complaints by companies against the city government. Airbnb is demanding that bureaucracy more efficiently approve its hosts’ applications. Do they expect citizens to care?

The revolutionary rent freeze law has been passed, meaning our rents can’t be increased for the next five years. Investors continue to buy up property. The SPD’s new leftish national leadership wants to copy Berlin’s law in other German cities.

Pedestrian deaths are up a lot this year: 23 people have died so far after being hit by cars – a 60% increase. The local Green party has made it one of its policies to phase cars out of the inner city. Friedrichstrasse will go car-free for three months next summer.

Berlin is finally starting to control the fireworks madness on New Year’s Eve. Want some peace and quiet this Silvester? Go to Alexanderplatz, which is one of only two places where fireworks have been officially banned.

Want a Christmas tree but don’t want to kill a living entity? You can rent a living tree for €20, and get €10 back if you return it in good condition.

See you next year for our live recording on January 26 at the Comedy Cafe Berlin!

 

RS Live: Benches, Bees & Berlin Pinball

Have you ever wished you could rest your rear on a comfy spot, but there isn’t a seat anywhere in sight? Or do you sometimes want to perch on a bench in a picturesque location, but the overflowing dustbin next to it is a bit off putting? Well now help is at hand. We speak to two creatives who are behind a pretty unusual Guerilla urbanism project: Benching Berlin. The two anonymous founders build public benches out of waste wood, then place them around town (chained up, so the authorities don’t take them away). https://www.instagram.com/benchingberlin/?hl=en

On our last episode we gave you an update on the proposed rent freeze – the idea of a five year rent cap in Berlin, that was first floated in June this year. Now finally the coalition parties of Berlin’s government have come to an agreement! We tell you what they’ve decided.

Bees are an essential part of our ecosystem. And they’re threatened by extinction. We speak to Christian Vogel of the Neukölln Beekeeper Association to help us help the bees and to give everyone a head start for the next bee season. http://www.berliner-imkerverein-neukoelln.de

What do you know about pinball? Not a lot? We don’t either. But it turns out there’s a scene for it in Berlin – and a big rivalry too! Ryan Rosell is telling us about it.

This episode was presented by Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern.

Want a Radio Spaetkauf mug? Become a subscriber! We’ll be giving them to listeners who donate monthly. Go here: steadyhq.com/de/radiospaetkauf

RS Live: Two Wheels Good, One Wheel Bad

Bicycle riders working for Deliveroo have gone from being precariously employed to unemployed. We meet some former Deliveroo riders who have started their own food delivery company. Christoph and Stefano founded Kolyma2, and are ready to take your order: www.kolyma2.de

The rent freeze is coming. More details keep leaking out from the city government office that is preparing this radical policy. Rents are to be capped at prices ranging from around €4m2 to €9m2, depending on the building age. New rental contracts can’t be above those rates, and some tenants can apply to have their rent lowered. Read more about this revolutionary concept at http://lolamag.de/feature/current-affairs/berlins-five-year-rent-freeze-explained/

Some Berlin bicycle riders behave as if the road rules don’t apply to them. Others don’t know the road rules at all. For our new Berlin Basics segment, we talk to Nikolas Linck from the Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad Club, the German Bicycle Club. Your flashing bike light is both illegal and dangerous, he tells Joel. Join up to the ADFC here (you also get free insurance): https://www.adfc.de/

Berlin was flooded by over 9000 stand-up electric scooters this summer as the German government legalized their use. But there are other types of small mobility devices that remain banned, such as electric skateboards and monowheels, both which don’t have a handle. We meet Lars and Frank, founders of the Electric Empire Association for Small Electric Vehicles. They’re planning a demo for the forgotten non-scooter-scooter riders on September 21. Are you one of them? Head along here:https://electricempire.de/elektrokleinstfahrzeug-demo-am-21-09-2019-trailer/

This episode was presented by Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern.

Want a Radio Spaetkauf mug? Become a subscriber! We’ll be giving them to listeners who donate monthly. Go here: steadyhq.com/de/radiospaetkauf

RS Live at Lakeside Film Festival 2019

We’re out in the woods for Mobile Kino’s annual camping trip. The Lakeside Film Festival is in its sixth year, and this was the biggest so far. We interview founders Joshua and Fernando about their recent scare with Facebook’s business-killing algorithm.

How will Berlin’s five-year rent cap affect you? If you got a rent increase notice before June 18, you may have to pay it. But the rental experts at Wenigermiete.de say at least 50% of rent increase notices have technical errors that make them invalid. Check with them first before you sign anything – it could save you cash for years to come.

What could happen to Berlin under a strict rent cap? Investors may flee – or be incentivised to build new flats, which are exempt from the rent cap. Landlords may stop maintaining their buildings – but renters can undertake the maintenance themselves and deduct the costs from their rent. Joel says the biggest thing to fear under a rent cap is ourselves. Tenants will be tempted to sublease at higher rates. Berlin’s renters will need to stick together and resist overcharging our housemates.

There’s a state election on in Brandenburg. The Alternative für Deutschland, or AfD, is leading in the polls at 21%, and also have the most posters up on the countryside roads. We discuss their empty slogans, which appeal to the grievances of East Germans who feel left behind the rest of the country, without offering any real policies to boost the local economy.

Caroline Clifford guest hosts, and tells us about how much she loves camping. Caroline is the host of We Are Not Gemused, an open mic night at Sameheads.

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Claim of Thrones

Berlin now has 750 millionaire residents – twice as many as in 2016, according to the Finanzamt. The majority live in the city’s west. More live in Kreuzberg than Prenzlauer Berg. Strangely, the Finanzamt defines a millionaire as someone with over €500,000 in income and assets – a hang-over from the Deutschmark days, as DMs are worth half as much as Euros.

The former German royal family wants its castles back. The remaining Hohenzollerns are relatives of the Nazi-supporting Kaiser Wilhelm II, who abdicated in 1918. His descendants are trying to claim compensation from the states of Berlin and Brandenburg, including artworks from museums, and Schloss Cecilienhof in Potsdam, where they want to live rent-free.

Berlin has introduced a rent freeze. All rents will be capped at their current level for five years, backdated to mid June. Landlords who breach the cap face huge fines. The city is now also talking about introducing rent controls for commercial properties to protect shopkeepers.

Electric scooters have been here only a few weeks, and already we’ve had at least 20 registered accidents. One man lost a few teeth in a crash. A woman was stopped in a park in Prenzlauer Berg rolling along with her dog on a lead. Several have been caught extremely drunk. Drivers are not allowed on the sidewalk, can’t take passengers, and can’t leave the scooter blocking a footpath. The public transport network says you’ll need a bicycle ticket if you bring an e-scooter on a bus or train. They’ve been banned from Tempelhofer Feld.

Join us for our next live recording! It takes place on stage at the Lakeside Film Festival, a weekend of outdoor movies and music by a lake in the woods. Find out more at www.lakesidefilmfestival.com

This episode was presented by Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern, and brought to you by RadioEins.

Seize that Pad Thai


Berlin now has two top level football teams after FC Union jumped up to the Bundesliga by winning a play-off match. FC Union started back in the DDR. Their die-hard fans actually helped rebuild the stadium in Köpenick with their own hands. Maybe they could help finish BER?

Enjoying the heat? Spare a thought for horses pulling tourist carriages in the city center. New rules now apply – carriage operators have to stop if air temperature in the shade reaches 30 degrees Celsius.

There’s been another attempt to crack down on the food sellers in Thai Park. Police and Ordnungsamt officers raided the park on a recent Saturday. But a district official revealed it was all for show. Arne Herz from the CDU said: “We don’t want to ruin the market, we just want to show the residents that we’re doing something.”

Get ready for a rent increase letter. Berlin’s landlords association has advised its members to try to increase rents by as much as possible before June 17. That’s because the city government is working on a new law that would freeze everybody’s rent for the next five years. Landlords are terrified, and are racing to squeeze out one last rent rise first. Residents are being advised not to agree to any rent increase without consulting a renter’s association first.

Want to hear our full-length hour-long live recordings? Then subscribe to our other podcast channel, which you can find here: https://apple.co/2vd5hdy

This episode was presented by Maisie Hitchcock and Daniel Stern, and brought to you by RadioEins.

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RS Live: Driving is Violence


Are you recycling, or ‘wishcycling’? We talk to Thomas Klöckner, spokesman for BSR, Berlin’s waste processing company. It turns out we’re all doing a pretty good job. But bulky waste is a problem. The solution for old mattresses? Talk to your neighbours and book a bulk collection for €50. Here’s where you do it: https://www.bsr.de/sperrmuellabfuhr-20237.php

Should we drive cars out of the city – and make sure they never return? Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain Green politician Florian Schmidt has proposed banning private vehicles inside the Ringbahn. Cars are being squeezed out of certain streets with ‘parklets’ – public seats occupying parking spots. Joel says “driving is violence” and “a bicycle is always right.” Agree? The local initiative Autofrei Wrangelkiez will blockade Oberbaumbrücke on June 15. More info here: http://autofreierwrangelkiez.de/termine/

Shared transport keeps expanding. The city will get 2000 more shared cars, Uber has launched its red electric Jump bikes which go quite fast, and stand-up electric scooters will soon be on the streets. Those who want a bike to treat as their own can rent one from Swapfiets or Vanmoof from as little as €17.50 a month, repairs included. Who needs a car anyway?

The Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignung campaign has passed its first signature collection hurdle, and has centrist parties very worried. The FDP wants to change the constitution to prevent it. The CDU wants to pay subsidies to cover rent increases – basically rewarding greedy landlords with taxpayer money. The SPD wants to tinker with laws to make existing rent caps actually work. The lesson here? You have to demand an extreme change to get a moderate one.

This episode was presented by Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern. Production help from Joshua of Mobile Kino.

Want a Radio Spaetkauf mug? Become a subscriber! We’ll be giving them to listeners who donate monthly. Go here: steadyhq.com/de/radiospaetkauf

RS Live: Who Wins the EU Poster Contest?

Are you one of four million EU citizens living in Germany? Now’s your chance to vote in the European Parliament elections. We decipher the street posters. Maisie explains why photos of chin-scratching men win more votes. Joel asks how the SPD’s Katarina Barley intends to do two jobs worth €100,000 a year each at the same time. Konrad Werner joins us. Listen to his podcast Meghan’s Megacan: https://apple.co/2AtuB27

We speak with Joanna Bronowicka from Democracy in Europe (Diem25), who want to reform Brussels and create a ‘green new deal’ for Europe: https://bit.ly/2PzNx5y

Why are people lying down on Berlin’s streets and blocking traffic? Extinction Rebellion’s Robbie Morrison tells us about the movement of people willing to get arrested to force climate change action: https://extinctionrebellion.de

Berlin has over 300 football clubs playing in ten leagues. We talk to Ben Ferry, Andy West and Andy Sager of Bloody Hell Magazine. They follow local games, which are far more exciting than major league matches: more red cards, pitch invasions, streakers and decent food. Want to join other Radio Spaetkauf listeners at a local match? Come along to SV Lichtenberg 47 club, 13:30 on 04.05.2019: https://bit.ly/2vrbin1

Head along to Mobile Kino on May 9 for Blaues Licht, a doco about Rocco and His Brothers, who carry out art stunts in U-Bahn tunnels: https://bit.ly/2DEUHRd

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