RS Live: Cars Don’t Vote

Berlin is weeks away from its state election and a referendum on housing. We analyse the campaign posters with Konrad Werner, columnist for Exberliner, and host of the weekly German news show Megan’s Megacan:

The AFD has moved from anti-migrant to anti-Green issues, declaring “Your car would vote for us”. The CDU are trying to convince Berliners they’d do a better job than the R2G coalition. The SPD is sticking with mayoral candidate Franziska Giffey, despite more plagiarism problems. She’s also effectively ruled out a new coalition with Die Linke and possibly the Greens, meaning a return to a conservative coalition in Berlin. And there’s lots of small parties with interesting ideas and terrible graphic design. Izzy’s volunteering to campaign for Klimaliste, who have a detailed plan on how to mitigate climate change, and say the Greens aren’t doing enough.

What happens if you paint the city streets with DIY safety markings and bike lanes? We meet a group who are being prosecuted for taking traffic control into their own hands. Jon from the group Vineta Kiezblock tells us how his group painted road safety marks. The Ordnungsamt painted them black. Follow here:

No more free coronavirus tests. Germany has decided to stop paying for your tests as of October 11. Expect a lot of empty shops and second-hand lab coats for sale online. The end of the tests means the end of income for some small shops.

The BVG is rolling out its new station announcement audio to more U-Bahn lines. The five-tone marimba alert is very tropical, but not very Berlin.

Mail from Maisie! She’s in Brighton, or “Kotti Am See”. She misses affordable bio food, rubbish recycling and Brandenburg lakes. But at least it’s multicultural, and free of scooters on sidewalks.

Guest host Izzy Choksey from the podcast @Sistrionics joins Joel and Dan for a live recording in front of a small safe audience at the Comedy Cafe Berlin.

Dan’s got a show coming up on August 28 at CCB. Come! Tickets here:

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RS Live: Deutschrap Iced Tea

What does Deutschrap have to do with the boom in bling-decorated iced tea? Maisie Hitchcock delves into her considerable knowledge of the genre to explain.

Want a hot investment tip? Get into chili farming. Berlin’s chili expert Neil Numb tells us how the city’s hot sauce boom needs more suppliers. Start growing on your balcony. Visit this weekend’s Berlin Chilli Fest at the new Reviere Südost:

Gorillas riders are holding rolling strikes at depots around the city. They’re protesting the summary firing of a worker who came late to a shift. Riders have formed a workers’ council, but say management are pressuring staff not to join. The billion-euro startup boss says “Gorillas are about cycling, not politics.” Seems he’s wrong about that. Should you shop from them? Dan says riders are just the most visible part of exploitation in your supply chain.

Tiny igloo-shaped cars are the latest shared mobility object to appear in Berlin. The Swiss company Enuu says their electric cars don’t take up as much road space. But they’re frequently parked on the footpath, and some drivers drive them in bike lanes illegally.

Urban Jungle is being retired. Urban Jungle is the name of the design on most BVG seats – that mess of red, blue, black and white squiggles. It was introduced in the 90s to hide graffiti tags. But the BVG’s new boss isn’t a fan and has ordered it to be phased out, replaced by a black and grey pattern. Get to a BVG shop and buy any remaining Urban Jungle merchandise.

Today’s episode of Radio Spaetkauf was made with support from Wander. Wander offers immersive audio experiences in locations all over the city. Visit places you always wanted to go and others you didn’t even know existed. Guides such as Daniel Ryan Spaulding will help you discover hidden corners of the city. Listen now for free at
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RS Open Air: Ban Cars & Racist Chocolates

Everything is reopening. We’re shooting up on vaccines, getting nose-gouged in strange places – and loving it. And best of all – Maisie is back! We’re recording in a garden in Kreuzberg, accompanied by the birds and the breeze.

Coronavirus testing centers are popping up faster than bubble tea shops. There are more than 1000 stations in the strangest locations – converted restaurants, bikes, basements. Is this creative capitalism, or a state-funded stimulus? The government is paying €12 per test. Some of that money is going amiss. Joel witnessed some test centers sending results without actually performing the tests, and others using incorrect personal data.

Our guest Nik Kaestner, a spokesman for Volksentscheid Berlin Autofrei presents their goal of removing cars from within Berlin’s S-bahn Ring. This would create the world’s largest car-free zone. The idea has gained a great deal of support from cyclists and pedestrians. Nik says even the 1.3 million car owners will be happy when they see the improvement. The initiative’s website’s English language version is here:

It’s time to ban schokoküsse, the chocolate marshmallows with a racist former name. Their continued existence allows racists to use them as a vehicle to attack Black people. A man attacked in the chocolate aisle in Aldi on Grenzallee in Neukölln by a white man, who used a box of chocolate kisses as a pretext for racial abuse. Changing the name (only in 2005) wasn’t enough: choco kisses have to go.

Berlin voters are being asked by the SPD to elect a mayor who has resigned as a federal government minister over a PhD plagiarism scandal: Franziska Giffey. She has quit the federal cabinet in anticipation of losing her degree. But she’s still the SPD’s mayoral candidate for the upcoming election.

Local sports: Berlin’s two football teams had very different Bundesliga season campaigns. Hertha played a terrible season, narrowly escaped dropping out of the Bundesliga, and fired some staff over racist comments. Union Berlin, however, had a fantastic year, finishing 7th overall.

Today’s episode of Radio Spaetkauf was made with financial support from Wander. If you are looking to discover and explore the great places in Berlin check out Wander. Wander offers immersive audio experiences in locations all over the city. Visit places you always wanted to go and others you didn’t even know existed. Wander suggests their audio experiences at Teufeslberg or the Neukölln Wochenmarkt on Maybachufer. Listen now for free at

Cohost Daniel Stern has a show live online Friday night via Comedy Cafe Berlin. Tickets and info at

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Rent Freeze #4: How To F#€k Up A Mietendeckel

Rent Freeze #4: How To Fuck Up A Mietendeckel

The Berlin Mietendeckel experiment is finished. The city’s revolutionary attempt to freeze rental prices for five years, and reduce overpriced leases, has been killed off by Germany’s highest court.

The decision has unleashed a political storm. Everyone is angry – but who will voters punish? The R2G parties who tried to regulate rents? Or their opponents, the CDU and FDP who successfully derailed the project? We make the case for why each side is to blame.

There’s a big bill to pay, as hundreds of thousands of Berliners now face back-payments, higher rents and permanent shadow contracts. We’ll run the numbers on the potential local economic crisis that could follow.

What hope is there left for affordable housing? And what can the rest of the world learn from Berlin’s short-lived rental revolution? The experiment is over. Now it’s time to analyze the results

The Challengers

The CDU and FDP took the Mietendeckel law to the constitutional court, where it was struck down. They perpetuated a false narrative – “build, don’t cap” – which claimed, incorrectly, that the Mietendeckel prevented new development (constructions from 2014 were specifically excluded from the law). The CDU was responsible for weakening federal rental regulations in the first place, enabling prices to skyrocket.

And then there’s political donations – or as Joel calls it, legalized corruption. Almost 80% of the CDU’s publicly-declared donations come from the real estate sector.

Joel interviews Berlin FDP leader Sebastian Czaja and challenges him on his false claim that the Mietendeckel prevented building, and on the FDP’s donations from real estate companies. Czaja says his party takes donations from all parts of society.

The Supporters

Are the parties who created the Mietendeckel culpable of incompetence? The governing coalition of the SPD, Die Linke and Die Grünen – or R2G – took a huge political and financial gamble, and lost.

The R2G promised renters a revolution, but delivered a regression. Many tenants must now make large back payments for which they have not saved. They went against the advice of many legal experts who warned their law was unconstitutional.

We speak to two of the Mietendeckel’s creators. Kilian Wegner is a law professor and SPD member who co-authored a policy paper which laid the groundwork for the Mietendeckel. He says the R2G was right in taking a chance on an uncertain law, due to out-of-control property prices.

Another lawyer, Professor Franz Mayer, wrote an expert opinion which argued Berlin had the constitutional right to create the Mietendeckel. He says there was a chance of success, and believes the court should have helped tenants by negating backpayments.

The Big Bill

How much will the Mietendeckel fiasco cost? We interview real estate researcher Christoph Trautvetter. He estimates the backpayments will cost renters between €100 to €300 million. Ongoing rent increases will cost around €500 million annually – that’s half a billion euros flowing from tenants to landlords, money not going into the local economy.

Daniel Halmer from Conny.Legal, formerly Wenigermieter, says tenants may be able to reduce backpayments and shaddow rents by using the Mietpreisebremse – the existing rental regulation that limits rent increases to 10% of local prices.

Time to Sieze Property?

An even more radical concept is now gaining support – the referendum initiative known as Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen, who want to seize properties from big corporate landlords.

We speak to Wouter Bernhardt from the movement’s podcast Von Menschen und Mieten. He says expropriation would be a permanent solution to rising rental prices.

The End of the Experiment?

The Mietendeckel experiment ran too short to answer many questions, and the data was disrupted by the parallel pandemic. But we did learn a few things. If you want a minor reform, demand a revolution. If you get your revolution, prepare for reprisal. Tenants globally now know rent control is no longer excluded from the political discourse.

Rent Freeze is produced and presented by Joel Dullroy, Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern. Artwork by Jim Avignon. Music by Tom Evans and Ducks!

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