An advertisement for a tiny 10-square-metre apartment in Berlin’s Bergmann-Kiez has had Berliners raising their eyebrows in alarm.
The furnished, pint-sized flat is listed on Immonet.de at €749 per month, including heating and other additional costs, usually meaning upkeep of the apartment building. That means a future resident would be paying about €75 per square metre.
In comparison, the average rental price for the area of this flat (near U-Bahn station Gneisenaustraße) is €679 per month without heating or extra costs – but that’s for a two-room, 70 square-metre apartment, according to housing search site Immobilien Scout 24. That’s about €9.7 per square metre.
The advert promotes the apartment as “small but classy” and close to “the beloved Bergmannstrasse cafes, shops and all that the neighbourhood has to offer”.
Blogrebellen referred to the hobbit-fit space as a “living toilet” in a play on the German word for living room.
— Blogrebellen (@Blogrebellen) September 23, 2016
In January, the same apartment had been advertised on sale for nearly €100,000, according to Tagesspiegel.
But while this apartment’s sticker shock of €10,000 per square metre may seem surprising in the “poor but sexy” Berlin, it pales in comparison to the luxury flat sold in April to a tune of more than €19,000 per square – at the time making it the most expensive flat in Germany by space.
Berlin’s rental prices have been on the rise in recent years, and at times the rate of increase has outstripped the national average.
Germany implemented a law last year to put a cap on ballooning city rental prices in places like Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, meaning landlords cannot increase prices in certain areas by more than ten percent of the local average for new tenants. But newly constructed or largely renovated buildings are exempt from this cap, and studies have shown that the law has not been effective in keeping prices down.
The Institute for Social City Development (IFSS) in May published research that revealed 80 percent of the online housing listings they analyzed, the rental prices listed were above what was legally permissible.
One Twitter user referred to the Bergmann-Kiez apartment as an example of how the price caps don't work.
749 Euro warm für möblierte Kammer https://t.co/QJUlBd7LBR wer nicht hören will, dass Mietpreisbremse etc Quark ist…..Slap Slap Slap..
— Michael Eisner (@AMEis_e) September 23, 2016
“Whoever doesn't want to hear that the rent price brakes are nonsense… slap slap slap.”
And as Tagesspiegel explains, Berlin is also scurrying to fill its housing shortage for its growing population – 50,000 new residents last year alone – creating many new or newly renovated buildings that do not fall under the cap.