A Berlin property manager's ad for a vacant rental apartment triggered a mass viewing on Sunday.
A whopping 1,749 flat-hunters queued outside to visit the vacant apartment in Meininger Straße in the city's sought-after Schöneberg district. The flat was advertised online just 12 hours before, broadcaster RBB reported.
As The Local has reported, renting in Germany is becoming more stressful due to rocketing prices and lack of available housing.
In Berlin, apartment viewings are notorious for attracting many applicants who are desperate to find a reasonably priced home in the Hauptstadt.
The flat, which is near the Schöneberg Town Hall, is on the third floor of a 1950s building. It is equipped with two rooms and a balcony, is 54 square metres in size and is being offered for €550 per month 'warm' – that means extra costs like heating and water are included in the total.
In order to organize the flat-hunters at the viewing and to avoid panic in the stairwell, the property manager gave instructions through a megaphone. Only groups of about 20 to 30 people were allowed into the apartment at once.
— rbb Abendschau (@rbbabendschau) November 24, 2019
This video by RBB shows the crowds at the viewing on Sunday.
Several flat-hunters slammed the procedure. One woman told RBB that inviting so many people at once was “somehow provocative”.
“I don't know if I should go in there. In the end you have no other choice,” she said.
Another viewer called the situation a “catastrophe”. But said it “really reflects the current picture of what housing in Berlin means. This is not an isolated case.”
The property manager Rolf Harms justified the decision to let hundreds of interested people come at one, saying a pre-selection of candidates had already been carried out.
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Harms said no applicants searching for a second home, or with a high income, were invited to the viewing.
The property manager will decide who gets the vacant apartment in just over a week.
Germany's problematic rental market
The housing market is particularly strained in big cities, including Munich and Stuttgart, both in southern Germany.
In this map of Germany, the dark red areas show “very strained” areas in the housing market. The orange areas are said to be “strained”, yellow areas are “balanced”, light blue areas are “stagnant” and blue areas “declining”.
People across Germany regularly hold marches and demos against 'rent insanity' in a bid to push authorities to take measures to keep rents down.
Berlin recently passed a controversial bid to freeze rents for five years.