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Berlin the new London? 10m2 flat to rent for €750 a month

This shoebox apartment in the gentrified Bergmann-Kiez neighbourhood may be a sign that the tides are turning for Berlin’s comparatively cheap housing market.

Berlin the new London? 10m2 flat to rent for €750 a month
Photo: Immonet.de.

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.

In January, the same apartment had been advertised on sale for nearly €100,000, according to Tagesspiegel.

Photo: Immonet.de

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.

“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.

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Wohngeld: How people in Germany can get help with rising living costs

Many households in Germany could be eligible for increased financial support with their rents and bills from next year. We break down who should apply and how much help they could receive.

Wohngeld: How people in Germany can get help with rising living costs

The cost of living is rising across the board, and nowhere is this being felt more than in the home. For over a year, gas and electricity bills have been soaring and people on low incomes have been left wondering how to make ends meet.

While there is support available for people in this situation, it seems that many households in Germany aren’t aware that they could be eligible to apply for Wohngeld, or housing allowance, to help them with their expenses. What’s more, the amount of money people can get is set to rise at the start of next year.

Here’s what you need to know.

What exactly is Wohngeld?

Wohngeld, or housing allowance, is a form of financial aid for low-income households in Germany. It’s intended to help with the general costs associated with housing, such as monthly rents and utility bills.

Even people who own their own homes are able to get support with their mortgage repayments and building management costs (known as Hausgeld). However, they do have to fulfil certain criteria, like earning under a certain amount per month.

Unlike long-term unemployment benefit, which also includes a stipend for rent and bills, Wohngeld is intended for people who don’t rely on any other form of state support. That could include single parents or people with minimum wage jobs who spend a large proportion of their income on rent.

It means that people on jobseekers’ allowance and students with state loans and grants aren’t able to apply for Wohngeld. 

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How much money can people receive?

That depends on a range of factors such as where you live, how high your rent is and how much money you earn this month. However, one thing that’s clear is that Wohngeld is likely to rise significantly at the start of next year.

On Wednesday, cabinet ministers voted through proposals from Housing Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) to hike the monthly allowance by around €190 on average. That means that instead of receiving €177 per month, the average household on Wohngeld will receive around €370 per month starting in January. 

It’s worth noting that Geywitz’s reforms still need to clear a vote in the Bundestag, but with the governing coalition of the SPD, Greens and FDP behind the move, it’s likely that they will. 

The Housing Ministry has also put together an online tool that can calculate the amount of Wohngeld each household is entitled to. At the moment, this still calculates the allowance based on the current rates – but it will be updated if the reforms are passed by parliament. 

Who’s eligible for Wohngeld?

That depends on a complex calculation based on factors such as income, the number of people in a household, the size and location of the property and how high monthly housing expenses are. There’s no straightforward income threshold that people can refer to, which could explain why thousands of households who could potentially get Wohngeld never apply for it.

The best way to check if you’re currently eligible is to use the government’s Wohngeld calculator tool. But as we mentioned above, this is still based on the current criteria and monthly rates. 

As well as hiking the monthly allowance, Geywitz also wants to expand the criteria so more households are eligible for Wohngeld.

At the moment, around 600,000 households in Germany receive Wohngeld. This could increase by 1.4 million to two million under Geywitz’s plans. From next year, people earning minimum wage and people on low pensions are set to be among those who are able to apply. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: When should I turn on my heating in Germany this year?

Sound good – where do I sign up?

In general, the states and municipalities are responsible for handling Wohngeld applications. That means you should apply at the local Wohngeldamt (housing allowance office), Wohnungsamt (housing office) or Bürgeramt (citizens’ office) in your district or city. 

If you’re unsure where to go, searching for ‘Wohngeld beantragen’ (apply for housing allowance) and the name of your city or area should pull up some search results that can guide you further. 

Apartment blocks in Berlin Marzahn.

Apartment blocks in Berlin Marzahn. Photo: picture alliance / Matthias Balk/dpa | Matthias Balk

Alongside an application form, you’ll likely have to submit a tenancy agreement, ID, information on your residence rights and proof of any income or state support you already receive. Other members of your household may also have to submit similar financial information. 

You should also be registered at the address you’re applying for Wohngeld for. 

READ ALSO: Germany to spend €200 billion to cap soaring energy costs

Are there any other changes to Wohngeld I should know about?

Anyone already on Wohngeld, or who receives it between September and December this year, is also entitled to a special heating allowance to help with winter energy costs. This is also set to be given to students and trainees receiving a BAföG loan or grant.

For students and trainees, the heating allowance is set at €345 per person. Meanwhile, the amount given to Wohngeld recipients will vary on the size of the household.

Single-person households will receive €415, two-person households will get €540 and there will be an additional €100 per person for larger households. 

This is likely to paid out in January. 

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