Venezuela Here I Come!

Right back where I started from…

Berlin

Berlin’s state cabinet has agreed on a rent freeze for five years to counter rising housing costs in the German capital.

The city’s leftwing coalition government wants to freeze the rent for apartments built before 2014, according to a report by the German news agency dpa.

Only a minority of Berliners own their homes or apartments and rent has been rising sharply in recent years, forcing many to move outside the city.

So put back up that Berlin Wall.

Cause Venezuela here I come!

Government Spending In Action

This time city governemnt.

A completely indebted city government that privatized the same properties for €405 million back in 2004 will now be buying them back for more than double the price. This will “keep the rents in Berlin stable.”

The horror never ends. “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”

Berlin Is The Place

The place where you don’t want thriving companies offering gainful employment and increasing property value in your neighborhood.

Gentrification

I get it. It’s about gentrification again. But the problem here isn’t the evil capitalist rich swooping in to speculate and force the poor out of their neighborhoods. The problem is a classic case of “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” The German government in general and the Berlin government in particular have been “helping” German renters for decades in ways that have discouraged Germans from owning property of their own (the vast majority of Berliners pay rent). Then when reality finally strikes (supply and demand = rising rents) the same politicians can’t help these renters anymore and leave them high and dry with rents they can no longer afford to pay. Ain’t nothing new.

Kreuzberg has long been one of the most affordable areas of Berlin, making it a haven for students, immigrants, artists and activists, a hub of culture, night life and left-wing politics. But in a pattern repeated in similar neighborhoods in many of the world’s wealthiest cities, affluent people have moved in, too, in recent years, bringing with them the social tensions of gentrification.

“They push out the people who were here before.”

Keep Berlin Poor!

And sexy, of course.

It all used to be so easy. But now property prices are rising like mad. This is not sexy, I am told. Unless, of course, you own property here, which practically nobody does. And that brings us back to poor…

Poor

About 85% of Berlin’s 3.4 million residents live in rentals and homeownership remains remarkably low — a condition fostered by the city’s turbulent history, Cold War division and five decades of communist rule in East Berlin. Almost by nature, Berliners tend to have a low regard for property owners…

Though still modest compared with other cities in Europe, rents in Berlin have risen 75% in the last five years. A recent survey by the property consultant group Knight Frank showed that property prices in Berlin rose 21% in 2017, the steepest rate in its survey of 150 cities around the world and far above the average increase of 4.5%. The biggest increases that year in the United States were Seattle, where rent rose 12.7%, and San Francisco, where they were up 9.3%.

“Once you move into an apartment in Germany, you are basically in the lease for life unless you cancel it yourself.”

Free Choice, More Convenience, Lower Prices?

Not in our city, buddy. I mean Airbnb buddy. Not if we from the we’re-from-the-government-and-we’re-here-to-help faction can do anything about it.

Miet-Map

We like things regulated here in Berlin. You know, we like things managed, micro-managed, even nano-managed or nanny-managed, if you prefer. What else do we have this oppressive Bevormundungsstaat (paternalistic state) for?

Looking to rent an apartment on your next vacation to Berlin? Starting Sunday, you can basically forget about it. From May 1, Germany’s capital is banning landlords from renting out apartments to short-term visitors, with only a few exceptions permitted.

The penalty for breaking the law is a substantial €100,000 ($113,000) fine — levied on people renting their homes, never on the guests themselves. There will still be some loopholes that allow a few vacation apartments to persist, but it seems that, in Berlin at least, the astronomical rise of Airbnb and other short-stay rental sites is effectively over.

Das Wohnungsangebot in Berlin bei Airbnb ist kleiner geworden. Mehr als 4000 Objekte wurden laut einem Medienbericht gestrichen. Offizielle Begründung: Sie böten “kein authentisches Reiseerlebnis”.

Phase-Out Gentrification Now!

Other cities would love to have a problem like this. Berlin takes in 20 million tourist overnight stays a year, and the number keeps rising. Investors and property owners keep rolling into the Stadt like, well, investors and property owners.

But for many Berliners, this is a crisis or something. This means that their city is in the process of becoming something called bürgerlich (a German cuss word meaning middle-class or bourgeois). Berlin is becoming gentrified (meaning upgraded, by the way), which is absolutely unacceptable because, well, many Berliners don’t want to upgraded, thank you.

You see, bourgeois gentrification ist deshalb (is on these grounds) unacceptable because it is a sign of economic dynamism in a city that has long been thought not to have any. Gentrification means that money is coming into town, that Berlin is becoming more attractive for that tasteless middle-class ambience so dreaded here, that the self-contained and highly subsidized island of Berlin is suddenly becoming a place of social mobility where middle-class lifestyle visions (which none of you out there share) are now apparently easier to realize here than elsewhere in the country.

German Gentrification is bad for Berlin, in other words. It has to be phased-out, just like German nuclear energy was. And don’t get them wrong or anything, it’s not because these Berliners are being intolerant here or anything. It’s just that they are being intolerant here – and acting more bourgeois than the bourgeoisie they despise.

Wer hätte sich träumen lassen, dass ausgerechnet das arme Berlin einmal ein Gentrifizierungsproblem haben würde? Es könnte schlimmere Nachrichten geben.

Cheapness is what we want

Still. But it looks like we’re not going to be getting it anymore. Here in Berlin, I mean. When it comes to cheap rent.

The average rent for new rentals has gone up nearly 5 percent since 2008, in some of the angesagte (hot) districts nearly 7 percent.

So much for finding your cheap ecologicial, I mean economical niche in Berlin, I guess. Although it’s still WAY cheaper to live here than in other German cities or gar (even) in “real” cities like London, Paris, New York, etc.  And it will probably stay that way for a while yet, maybe, I hope.

This trend will continue, however, the smart guys say. There are ever more renters out there looking for apartments in a stagnant market – and only about 13 percent of Berliners actually own their own. Ich bin ein Berliner, they must be thinking, but I don’t necessarily want to own a piece of it.

Dieser Trend wird anhalten, so der Marktbericht, den die GSW am Donnerstag vorstellte. Denn in Berlin konkurrieren immer mehr Haushalte um die stagnierende Zahl der Mietwohnungen – und Wohneigentum leistet sich nur eine Minderheit (13 Prozent).