Why can’t Germany finally ban fireworks? The failure to prohibit the use of rockets on NYE shows the pandemic response still isn’t being led by science, we say. Many shops are closed, and alcohol outdoors is banned. Berlin is preparing for vaccinations, but unless you’re over 80 you probably won’t get one for quite a while.
We’re joined by guest co-host Gilda Sahebi, a journalist and doctor. Gilda is part of Neue Deutsche Medienmacher, a network that promotes greater diversity in Germany’s very white media industry. Follow Gilda’s here: https://twitter.com/gildasahebi
Gilda’s network helped write a handbook for Berlin’s city government that discourages the use of racist and exclusionary language. For example, city officials have been told to not use the term “Ausländer”, but rather “Einwohnende ohne deutsche Staatsbürgerschaft”. Dan says making such phrases cumbersome should encourage us to question whether we even need to say them at all.
The BVG has a new voice. An actor with a gender neutral tone will read station announcements. Will the BVG also please finally hire a native English expert to check their translations? This new platform announcement is both bad and dangerous: “Please keep distance to each other.” Please don’t!
This episode was hosted by Jöran Mandik, Joel Dullroy, Daniel Stern and Gilda Sahebi.
We’re joined by guest co-host Carmen Chraim! Listen to her podcast People of Carmen.
Joel shares his experience of having coronavirus: it’s hard to get tested, and contact tracing is no forensic investigation. Luckily more private testing clinics have opened, including at BER and Kitkat Club.
With Christmas markets cancelled, the whole city has become a distributed glühwein markt. Joel and Jöran went on a tour of Neukölln’s weihnachts windows. Can we expand the variety of hot drinks on offer please?
But glühwein is unlikey to save the hospitality sector. A survey by Bars of Berlin found 75% of their members expect to go out of business by 2021. Restaurants are operating on about 40% of their usual trade.
The U5 extension is finished, connecting Hauptbahnhof to Alexanderplatz. It was only 20% over budget and 3 years late. But Friedrichstraße U6 station has closed – Berlin has a ghost station once again. Do we need an U-Bahn extension to BER?
And at BER… Schönefeld airport is closing. The building now called Terminal 5 will shut its doors March for at least a year due to low traffic. Suddenly Berlin has three abandoned airports.
The bill for the police operation to clear the Liebig 34 squat is in: it cost almost €1 million: that’s more than the owner paid to buy the building in the first place. The residents wanted to stay and pay rent, as they had been. The landlord wanted them out. The city sided with the owner.
Thanks for the lovely messages for Maisie – she really appreciates them.
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.
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.
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.
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: email@example.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.
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