In Germany, rental leases for apartments last forever, until the tenant wants to move out. It’s common for people to live for decades in the same rented apartment, and it’s even possible for children to inherit a rental lease when their parents pass on. Apartments are high quality and well-maintained. Germany is one of the best countries in the world to be a renter, and it’s no wonder that many Germans choose to rent when they could afford to buy a home.
We talk to Friederiche, who has been living in the same rented apartment in Berlin for more than 20 years. This was the only home her children knew until they grew up and moved off on their own. She describes her front room (the “salon”) as being a “ballroom.” She and her husband live in a very desirable neoclassical building, which was built in the 1870s. Were her apartment placed on the free market, she estimates the landlord could get double or triple rent.
We wanted to know what it is like to live with a forever lease. When we asked Friederiche if she knew anyone who was forced to move out of their apartment when they didn’t want to, she couldn’t think of anyone. When we asked if there was something she would change about renting in Germany, she couldn’t come up with anything.
Anja Notanja was our cohost. She always has engrossing projects in writing, visual arts, on stage, and on the radio. She is working on a shadow puppetry show. Her main project is her podcast Subtle Forces. Her Instagram is also highly recommended.
Here’s that article we mentioned on Berlin’s new rent regulations. Music by Spencer Jennich and Matt Krco.
Image: a pair of neoclassical apartments in Berlin. Flickr / Helran