Rent Freeze #3: Don’t Spend It

This month residents of Berlin should experience the biggest collective rent reduction in history. About 340,000 residents – one in six – may be eligible for a rent cut under the Mietendeckel, Berlin’s radical new housing policy. But landlords are doing their best to stop it.

On November 23 landlords must reduce rents to regulation levels or face fines of €500,000. Tenants can check if they’re paying too much at this website: http://www.mietendeckel.berlin.de
And they can report cheating landlords to the city government here.

Anyone who gets a rent reduction should save the money, as they might have to pay it back. The Mietendeckel is being challenged in Germany’s constitutional court, with a ruling expected in mid-2021. Jöran Mandik explains the court process – and the judges’ red robes.

Furnished flats are not exempt from the Mietendeckel. But some companies are offering a buy-and-lease-back service model to help landlords get around the law. Tenants are told they have no choice but to rent both the flat and the furniture together. Other tricks include renting expensive basements, parking spaces and coworking desks inside their flat.

Double contracts have become standard: residents are offered two prices – a lower one that matches the rent freeze legislation, and a higher one they’ll have ot pay if the law is later ruled unconstitutional. Such double contracts are most likely legal and enforceable, says rental expert Daniel Halmer from Conny.legal (formerly Wenigermiete). But they could still be challenged using the Mietpreisbremse law, an older regulation which limits rent prices under some conditions.

What’s the effect of the rent freeze so far? If you already have an apartment, the rent freeze appears to be working as expected. If you’re looking for an apartment, things are tougher due to landlords restricting supply. A study by the ZIA found average rental prices have sunk by 5.7% in the first half of 2020. But availability has also fallen by about 50%, as property owners withhold empty flats from the market. For new flats built after 2014 – which are exempt from the Mietendeckel – prices are up 7.5%, and availability has increased by 18%, according to real estate portal ImmobilienScout24.

Swedish property management company Heimstaden Bostat isn’t deterred by the rent freeze. The company is trying to purchase about 130 buildings with almost 4000 apartments at a cost of €830 million. Heimstaden told us they had factored the rental regulations into their financial planning.

Researcher Christoph Trautwetter recently produced a report called ‘Who Owns Berlin’ for the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. He debunks the myth that warned the Mietendeckel would scare investors away. “There is an excess of capital looking to invest under any condition, and ready to accept the Mietendeckel as a condition to invest in Berlin,” Trautwetter said. You can read his report here: https://www.rosalux.de/publikation/id/43284

Next up on this series – who is to blame for Berlin’s lack of new properties? We’ll also hear from small-time landlords who face financial ruin under the rent freeze.

On our series we speak about Berlin’s housing market. But of course there are those Berliners who are completely excluded from it and don’t have a home at all. Winter is fast approaching and they need help. Please consider donating to the following organisations to help them take care of our homeless:
Berliner Obdachlosenhilfe: https://www.berliner-obdachlosenhilfe.de/
Caritas: https://www.caritas-berlin.de/
Berliner Stadtmission: https://www.berliner-stadtmission.de/
Kältehilfe Berlin: https://www.kaeltehilfe-berlin.de/
Obdachlosenhilfe Die Brücke: http://www.obdachlosenhilfe-die-bruecke.de/

Rent Freeze is produced and presented by Joel Dullroy, Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern. Music by Tom Evans. Artwork by Jim Avignon. Produced in partnership with RadioEins, Berlin’s public broadcaster.

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RS Lockdown: Tasteless Recipes

First some difficult news: Maisie is in hospital being treated for a rare type of cancer. She is trying to stay positive and says: “Hello to everyone. I’m working on coming back ASAP!” You can send her a personal message via: hallo@radiospaetkauf.com

We’re back in partial lockdown, with all hospitality and cultural venues closed. More than 70 such businesses are trying to sue to stay open, with little hope. They can apply for 75% of their usual monthly income. Will they be scared to ask for money, after the legal recriminations for those who took the last coronavirus support package? Here’s where you find out more about Überbrückungshilfe Unternehmen: https://bit.ly/3lfadHk

Where have people been catching COVID-19? Berlin’s health department has released statistics: 55% at home, 15% in hospitals and care homes, 4% in ‘free time’, 3.5% at work, 2.5% at school – and only 2.1% in restaurants.

Tegel Airport has finally closed. Dan interviews Ben, a flight attendant who was on one of the last flights out of the hexagonal terminal.

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

How To Fuck Up An Airport #5: Crash Take-Off

Every Berliner knows the new airport is about to open. But few know about the disasters that could happen next. We’re here to explain. Masie, Joel and Jöran take part in a test of the new terminal and find it functional, if a bit dull.

We meet the only hero in the BER saga – Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, the airport’s fourth CEO, and the one who finally finished the job. He’s a bureaucratic nerd who visited the building site on weekends to check on progress. And he has a penchant for prose when talking about his airport: “In the evenings, when the sun disappears behind the horizon, or when airplanes with their landing lights are touching down at Schönefeld… I don’t want to call it romantic, but there are special moments.”

But just as BER was turning the corner, COVID-19 has slashed air traffic by 70% and put a huge hole in an already shaky budget. Critics say the pandemic is masking a passenger capacity crunch. Can the airport really handle all of Berlin’s travellers? We’ll only know after the crisis.

How will BER pay the bills? We talk to business professor Hans Georg Gemünden from the Techniches Universität, who says the airport company has used accounting tricks to hide serious financial problems, and predicts it will go bankrupt in several years.

Should BER open at all? Environmental activists from Am Boden Blieben (Stay On The Ground) will blockade the airport to protest unnecessary air travel. They propose a frequent flyer tax to discourage jetsetting.

Radio Spaetkauf urges you to support any of the many charities rescuing people from drowning in the Mediterranean. We all deserve a good and safe life, no matter where we are born. European governments are acting immorally, but some people are trying to save lives. Donate to:
Sea-Watch: http://www.sea-watch-org
Mare Liberum: https://mare-liberum.org/
Alarm Phone: https://alarmphone.org/
Sea Eye: https://sea-eye.org/
Or any other Mediterranean rescue organization.

How To Fuck Up An Airport is presented by Radio Spaetkauf and RadioEins.
Producer: Joel Dullroy
Presenters: Joel Dullroy, Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern
Music: Ducks!
Artwork: Jim Avignon

Subscribe to Radio Spaetkauf on iTunes.

Support us with a monthly donation!

RS Live: Million Euro Logo

A right-wing campaign of neighbourhood terror has been carrying on for years on the streets of Neukölln. For a long time, the police just seemed incompetent. Now there are accusations that some police may have had connections to suspected right-wing attackers. We talk to the Mobile Counsel Against Right-wing Extremism Berlin: www.mbr-berlin.de/

The next coronavirus wave is upon us. The city is well prepared, with lots of available hospital beds. But politicians aren’t taking chances, introducing more mask laws and shutting businesses at 11pm. But are we going back to morality over science?

An update on pop-up bike lanes: the Berlin city government has won an appeal against the AfD’s anti-bike lane court case. The pop-up bike paths are safe for now. There’s also a new initiative to ban cars from the city – Autofreiberlin: http://autofreiberlin.de

One of Berlin’s last real squats, Liebig34, was evicted in a massive police operation. The owner, the Padovicz family and company, owns hundreds of properties. They bought the building for €600,000, and have already collected €580,000 in rent from the residents, who wanted to stay and pay a reasonable rent.

Berlin has a new official logo – a simple black, red and white rectangular box, with san-serif Bauhaus-era font and a bear with no flicking tongue. The cost? €1.26 million euros (without VAT). A lot of money, but some of us think it’s an improvement on the old Be Berlin graphic mess.

Old Logo, New Logo

Dan recommends listening to the podcast People of Carmen by comedian Carmen Chraim: https://apple.co/35vqMbc

Also, check out Trevor Silverstein’s podcast The Boss: https://apple.co/2ZOtC9v

Does your business need a podcast? Hire us to help you produce it! Contact us: hello@radiospaetkauf.com

Thanks to all our donors! Support us here: http://www.radiospaetkauf.com/donate

RS Live: Bike Lane Battle



The AfD has won a court battle to remove pop-up bike lanes. How can cyclists fight back? We meet Dirk von Schneidemesser from Changing Cities who says we can convince drivers to give up cars if we have better, safer bike paths. Become a supporting member of Changing Cities here: https://changing-cities.org

Football used to be banned for women in Germany. But for ten years the NGO Discover Football has been making soccer more female-friendly and empowering women. We talk to Johanna Small about their yearly football festival. More here: http://www.discoverfootball.de/

Maisie credits Exberliner for their detailed coverage of the Julian Assange show trial. Assange is a journalist threatened with a life in jail for exposing government crimes. Yet the media has abandoned him, focusing on his personality and now-dropped allegations. We should all be concerned about his fate. Follow Exberliner’s court reporting: https://www.exberliner.com/features/julian-assange-trial-2020

Do you have a dinosaur limb lying around in your garden? Better return it to Spreepark at Plänterwald. They are restoring the dinosaurs. The ferris wheel will soon be removed and repaired.

Clubs are reopening with temperature checks, distanced dancing and lots of sanitizer. Grießmühle has a new location, this one with working toilets, they say. Book your visit in advance here: https://griessmuehle.de

This episode was hosted by Daniel Stern, Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik and Joel Dullroy. Thanks to Trevor Silberstein of The Boss podcast for tech support. Listen to his show here: https://apple.co/2ZOtC9v

Support us with a donation here: http://www.radiospaetkauf.com/donate/

RS Lockdown: Countering Covidiots

Maisie mingles mit medical misbelievers and miscellaneous misinformed masses. More updates on Coronavirus. Plus Berlin’s building and housing senator has been forced to resign… what does this mean for the rent freeze?

Berlin’s population has fallen for the first time in almost two decades. There are 3.7 million residents registered here. But 7000 moved away since the start of the year. The reason is because of fewer foreigners coming here – only 1000 moved here since the start of the year. Meanwhile 8000 Germans moved away. 

Köpenick is the new “Hasenhain”. That’s Joel’s clever new portmanteau. Police have been shutting down illegal parties in the woods around Köpenick, in Berlin’s east. The latest had 150 people. It was discovered by a police helicopter scoping out the woods.

Friedrichstraße has begun an experiment in car-free living. It has already met with typical resistance but also some success. Will it be given enough time to see the positive effects that bike and pedestrian friendly streets can have on a neighborhood? Plus we discuss the possibility that coronavirus regulations may affect this year’s winter markets.

The recent demonstration against mask regulations and other restrictions related to the pandemic drew a reported 38,000 people including Reichsflag waving “nationalists”, Qanon aligned conspiracy devotees and a menagerie of other groups connected by Querdenken 711. A group of protestors bum-rushed the Reichstag overwhelming the few police stationed in front of it. Maisie tells us what she saw during and after the demonstration. The immediate result of the demonstration is new rules requiring the use of masks during protests of over 100 people. The next Anti-Corona-Rules demo will not take place in Berlin but will instead be moved to Konstanz at the southern border of Germany. 

Numbers in August have been higher than in July with Tuesday seeing 81 new cases. The reproduction number rising 1.14, means that one of the three Corona traffic lights is now yellow. But Berlin hospitalization numbers remain low with 32 people currently being treated, 12 of which are in intensive care.

A few new pandemic related regulations have been put in place: Private gatherings of up to 50 people will have to have a hygiene concept and collect attendee names. Restaurants have to follow slightly stricter rules too, with the requirement for  customer data collection now including those at outdoor seating. A new nationwide rule allows authorities to charge fines of up to €50 for not wearing masks. 

The BVG has reported that 80,000 people have been reprimanded for not wearing masks since July. 470 people have been fined. 223 people claimed they had an exemption from the law. A study by Technisches Univesität has found that wearing a simple fabric mask on public transport can reduce infection risk by up to 50%. They said U-Bahn windows should be open to maximize airflow.

Mohrenstraße will finally be renamed Anton-Wilhelm Amo Straße. After years of petitions and renewed protests since the murder of George Floyd the Mitte Bezirks parliament has finally voted to go ahead with the name change. Anton Wilhelm Amo was an 18th century African born German philosopher.

An update on the corona-zuschuss, the money paid to freelancers and small businesses at the start of the lockdown in April. After a few technical hiccups, the system worked quickly to dispense €1.8 billion euros to over 200,000 recipients. All they had to do was put in a bank number and tax number and click a few boxes. Since then, around 2200 cases of fraud have been opened. An additional 10% of recipients also paid the money back after getting it. In a sign of economic recovery Berlin’s unemployment rate has decreased for the first time since the lockdown; albeit by only 1002 people.

Berlin’s government has seen a few shake ups in recent weeks including the resignation of Katrin Lompscher, and announcements by Health Minister Dilke Kalayci and Education senator Sandra Scheeres that they will not be seeking reelection. Mayor Michael Müller is seeking a seat in the Bundestag but SPD rival Kevin Kuhnert stands in his way.

In other news, Berlin is getting a new museum. The Exilmuseum – dedicated to people who have fled their countries of origin. It’s going to be built behind Anhalter Bahnhof. The old facade of the train station will remain as is. Behind it, a big curved building will be constructed for the museum. 

This episode was presented by Joel Dullroy, Maisie Hitchcock, Daniel Stern and Jöran Mandik. Thank you to our supporters and listeners. Donations help keep the show going and can be made at http://www.radiospaetkauf.com/donate/.

RS Lockdown: Good Cop, Bad Ordnungsamt


Are you faking your details on restaurant sign-in sheets? Now the police are requisitioning venue contact lists for non-health-related investigations.

About 20,000 corona deniers marched through Berlin on Saturday, showing that covidiots aren’t only found in the US. At the same time, police brutally cracked down on a left-wing demo in Neukölln.

Hasenheide parties have become international news. Maisie was at a small gathering in the park and witnessed the policing strategy of banning bass frequencies. Concerned citizens are cleaning up the dirty park each Monday. If you’ve been to a party, perhaps you should lend a hand.

Berlin’s city districts should open controlled party zones in public spaces. And the government should pay 50% rent of all struggling nightclubs. Those are the recommendations from an unlikely source – Berlin’s CDU party. Will it win them any votes?

This episode was presented by Joel Dullroy, Maisie Hitchcock and Jöran Mandik. No live show this month due to weather and tear gas.

RS Live: Statistically Speaking


Why does the German media still use racist cliches, and focus on race in stories about coronavirus outbreaks? We meet Gilda Sahebi, journalist for Taz and Neue Deutsche Medienmacher*innen. She tries to help educate newsrooms about persistent casual racism. Follow Gilda at https://twitter.com/GildaSahebi

Can you film racist incidents and put them online? Only if you blur the faces, warns Joe von Hutch, a writer and lawyer. Joe says white allies should put their bodies on the line to protect people of colour at demonstrations. He’s also publisher of Daddy Mag: www.daddy.land

The mask law has been toughened – it now carries a €50 fine. More people are now observing it, although police aren’t widely issuing fines. The lesson for lawmakers – don’t pass a law without a punishment attached.

With clubs still closed, regular parties are now happening in Berlin’s parks, with little police intervention. Joel wonders if we’re entering a period of fatalism – corona realism? And with the law fluctuating so frequently, have we experienced totalitarianism or well-functioning anarchism?

Bumper car, dodgem car, or autoscooter? We’re recording in an old rink once used for fairground vehicles. It’s part of the Haus der Statistik, a huge abandoned building coming back to life as a creative community space. More at https://hausderstatistik.org

Some other podcasts we recommend:
Secret Place Berlin: https://open.spotify.com/show/3I1iO7xciEjb2Pme5vtTe7
Friends and Girls: https://podcasts.apple.com/de/podcast/friends-and-girls/id1445078782
The Low Season: http://thelowseason.podbean.com

Thanks to all our supporters! You can donate to keep us going here: http://www.radiospaetkauf.com/donate/

RS Mini: Unlock Life


This mini episode features Daniel Stern interviewing artist Aram Barthall about his recent installation “Unlock Life” which utilizes remnants of the recent bike share boom.

Find out more about at Aram Bartholl at https://arambartholl.com and see the exhibit until the 16th of August at https://www.kunstraumkreuzberg.de.

Additionally: We are happy to announce that we will return to live recording with an audience on Saturday July 4th at 3pm – detailed announcement coming soon.

Thanks to our recent sponsors! We’re using your donations to buy new audio equipment for our future live shows. You can become a supporter here: http://www.radiospaetkauf.com/donate/

RS Lockdown: Crowded Canals


Almost everything is open again, but the crisis isn’t over. 30% of Berlin workers are now jobless or on Kurzarbeit suspension. Many cafes, shops and big businesses have closed. Maisie tells us about job hunting following her return to Berlin.

Corona rule confusion continues. Masks must be worn in supermarkets but not gyms. Customers mask up in shops but not staff, but in restaurants it’s the other way around. And now a court has invalidated some of the fines handed out for non-distancing.

The BVG’s sporadic automatic door opening policy is also confusing. Joel’s annoyed about touching dirty buttons unnecessarily. Do some drivers forget sometimes, or are they on a door-opening strike?

Amid anti-racism rallies in Berlin, a new law has been passed. It’s now easier for victims of racial profiling to lodge complaints. Officials can’t discriminate against you for any reason – including poor German language skills.

With concerts still banned, there’s only one way to enjoy live music. Dan attended an individual performance by violinist Diana Tischenko, organized by 1:1 CONCERTS. Find out more at http://1to1concerts.de

Thanks to our recent sponsors! We’re using your donations to buy new audio equipment for our future live shows. You can become a supporter here.