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Rent a tent: shared flat in central Berlin posts advert for balcony

Over the weekend, a strange advert for accommodation in Berlin was posted on a website for flat searches, German media reported on Monday.

Rent a tent: shared flat in central Berlin posts advert for balcony
Illustrative photo of a balcony in Berlin with a sign that says 'to rent'. Photo: DPA

In the advertisement on WG-gesucht.de, two young Berliners stated they were looking for someone to rent out a tent on their 10-square-metre balcony at a fee of €260 per month.

The headline of the posting states: “Rent a place to sleep on the balcony – rent a tent!” A photo shows a tent with pillows and two sleeping bags inside, as well as plants right next to the tent.

According to the advert, those interested in joining the shared flat will be living with Marie and Bianca, two women in their early twenties who are currently completing their studies in the capital.

Due to “financial problems” the women are renting out their balcony. But those interested shouldn’t mind if they want to “sunbathe on the balcony from time to time or have a drink in the evening there.”

Prospective tenants are also informed that they will have access to the kitchen and bathroom. The location is “really great,” the ad goes on to write, as the nearest underground station is just “a minute’s walk” from the shared flat.

But even if this posting happens to interest you, it seems the balcony is no longer available as the advert has since been deactivated. “Sorry, the advertiser has already received enough requests,” states WG-gesucht.de.

Whether or not the posting was meant to be taken seriously, it highlights the difficulty of finding housing as well as the rising prices of accommodation in the German capital.

According to a study carried out by wg-suche.de, students in Berlin pay an average of €363 for a room in a shared apartment. For a single apartment of about 30 square metres, monthly rent payments are at least €438.

SEE ALSO: Berlin takes lead – 2 million affordable flats lacking in Germany

Last month the Hans Böckler Foundation found that Berlin leads the way as the German metropolis with the largest shortage of affordable apartments.

In 2017, an official city report showed that rents in Berlin shot up by nearly 10 percent in two years. Rent has gone up by as much as 39 percent in the last seven years, reports the Berliner Morgenpost.

Elsewhere across the country living costs aren’t cheap for students particularly in Munich. In the Bavarian capital, a room in a shared flat costs €616 on average and €785 for a single apartment. In Stuttgart, joining a shared apartment costs €485, followed by Frankfurt (€474) and Freiburg (€438).

READ ALSO: What you need to know about renting in Germany

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STUDYING IN GERMANY

EXPLAINED: Can foreigners apply for student finance in Germany?

Germany has a system of financial support for students known as BAföG. In many cases foreigners are just as entitled to apply as Germans. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Can foreigners apply for student finance in Germany?

What is BAföG?

Bafög is an abbreviation for a word that would surely be the longest in pretty much any other language expect German: Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz. This tongue twister breaks down to mean Federal Training Assistance Act. 

Ever since the 1970s it has helped Germans from poor backgrounds to take up a place at university to at a training colleague, with the idea being that financial hardship should never prevent someone from entering higher education.

In its current form the law provides for students form poorer families to receive €853 a month, half of which is a stipend and half of which is a loan that you will need to pay back once you’ve entered the workforce. 

The maximum you are expected to pay back is €10,000.   

Some 460,000 students were being assisted with Bafög payments in 2020, the last year for which there are numbers.

READ ALSO: How to finance your master’s studies in Germany as an international student

Who is entitled to BAföG?

There are two basic conditions attached to BAföG: you have to be under the age of 30 to apply and you parents have to be low-wage earners.

There are some exemptions for the age restriction. If you can show that you were not able to start a course of study before your 30th birthday due to health or familial reasons then you might still be eligible later. Also, if you are applying for support for a Masters degree then you can apply for Bafög up until the age of 35.

According to German law, your parents have an obligation to financially support your education. This means that German authorities ask for evidence of their income to assess whether you are in need of state support.

And this applies whether your parents work in Germany or abroad, the Education Ministry confirmed to The Local.

“Income calculation under the BAföG rules takes place regardless of whether one’s parents live in Germany or abroad. This applies both to German nationals and to people with non-German nationality who are eligible for support under BAföG,” a spokesperson for the ministry confirmed.

What about foreigners?

Bafög is by no means only available to Germans. A whole variety of foreign nationals can also apply.

The rules on which foreign nationals are entitled to financial support are fairly complicated. But the following list on eligibility is somewhat exhaustive:

  • If you are an EU citizen, or from an EEA country, and you have lived in Germany for at least five years
  • If you are married to, or are the child of, an EU citizen who has lived in Germany for at least five years
  • If your are an EU citizen who lives and works in Germany and whose intended course of study is connected to your current job
  • If you are not an EU citizen but have obtained permanent residency in Germany
  • If you have received refugee status
  • If you have lived in the country for at least 15 months as a ‘tolerated’ person (ie you applied for asylum and weren’t given full refugee status)
  • If at least one of your parents has lived and worked in Germany for three of the past six years
  • You are married to a German national and have moved to Germany.
  • You are the spouse or child of a foreign national who holds a permanent residency permit.

Due to the relative complexity of these rules it is advisable to speak to local organisations that support students such as the Studentenwerk Hamburg, the StudierendenWERK BERLIN or the Studentenwerk München.

READ ALSO: Essential German words to know as a student in Germany

How do repayments work?

The Federal Education Ministry states that you are expected to pay back your loan even if you return to your home country after completing your studies.

Repayment begins five years after you received the last installment of the loan at which point you are expected to pay back €130 a month. Although this amount can be reduced if your salary is low.

If you haven’t paid everything back after 20 years then the rest of the debt is dropped.

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