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 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:

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:

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!

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: Shared Spaces

On this month’s Radio Spätkauf: Segregation in Berlin’s public schools, an artist and curator reinvents the Berlin‘s S-Bahn‘s disused spaces. And what is the Night of Solidarity & why should we take part in it?

Courtney O’Connell has been working with children, youth, and their families in emergency shelters and temporary accommodations for people seeking asylum in Berlin since 2015. She talks to us about how Berlin‘s public school’s two-tier eduction system is proving a big stumbling block to integration.

In September, the Berlin Senate launched new guidelines for tackling the city’s increasing homelessness problem, which included plans to hold a census of the city‘s destitute. „Die Nacht der Solidarität“ will take place on 29th January 2020. Sophia Berndt, a student at Alice Salomon university and volunteer working with the homeless, told us more about it.

If you want to volunteer, register here:

As Berlin’s urban fabric changes and affordable spaces for making and showing art in become ever rarer, artists are coming up with inventive solutions to the problem. One such artist (and curator) is Natalia Irina Roman, who has repurposed the buildings and spaces along Berlin’s S-Bahn lines for her project ‚Along the Lines.‘

You can find out more about Natalia‘s projects here

This episode was presented by Daniel Stern, Trevor Silverstein and Maisie Hitchcock.

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

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).

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.

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:

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:

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

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):

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:

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:

Article: Berlin’s Five-Year Rent Freeze Explained

RentFreeze Illustration by John Rooney

“It’s an exciting time to be a Berliner, with the city about to embark on the most radical experiment in housing policy in the world. Residential rent prices are to be frozen at their current level for five years, and may even be reduced. Landlords could face fines of up to €500,000 if they are caught overcharging. The free market for rented property could be over. The revolution has arrived in Berlin, at least temporarily. Here’s what you need to know about Berlin’s five-year rent freeze, and some predictions about how it could play out….”

Radio Spaetkauf’s Joel Dullroy turned his monologue from a recent episode into an article for Berlin’s Lola Magazine. Read it in full here.

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 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.

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

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

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:

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

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Support us with a monthly donation!