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hype view (2) brochure
allow ground ground-level
search face (3) freelancer
rent sit back desperate
tenant force (2) unemployed
floor space (2) enormous
extra estimate impression
option full-time part-time
triple right (4) neighborhood
refuse resident square (3)
threat protest campaign
poster investor association
group demand discussion
accept internal hold meeting
salary renovate affordable
worry include square meter
agree organize public (3)
roof hang (2) fundamental
join diverse fraction (2)









An apartment viewing in the much-hyped Berlin district of Neukoln. We’re only allowed to film the floor. It’s a two-room flat on the ground level; €850 a month, all included.

Some of these interested tenants have been searching for months.

Potential Tenant One: “It’s really, really, really hard now. Your salary must three times more than the rent. And we know that Berlin is one of the most desperate cities with the unemployed. Also the salary where when you work, they are not so high.

Potential Tenant Two: “What’s my impression? It’s on the ground floor facing east. It doesn’t get much natural light. I find it expensive for what it is.”

But the demand for living space in Berlin is enormous: it’s estimated the city needs an extra one-hundred and seventy-thousand (170,000) apartments.

That’s forcing rental prices up.

Those looking for a flat have few options. For many, home hunting is a full-time job.

Linda Vierecke, DW Reporter: “I remember coming to Berlin ten years ago. Finding an apartment was easy. The first apartment I rented had two rooms and it cost only €500.

Now prices have doubled.

In this house, in the hip Prenzlauerberg neighborhood, residents refuse to accept the threat of higher rents. Through posters and protests, they successfully campaigned against a new investor trying to buy the building.

Lothar Groschel, Tenants’ Association: “We saw a group of possible investors. They were walking through the house with investment brochures, speaking in different languages. That’s when we thought ‘Here goes our house.’

Then we quickly organized ourselves internally. We held meetings and discussions. We knew we had to do something because we didn’t want to sit back and wait. In half a year, investors could buy the house, and renovate us away.”

Andrea Ubelacker, Artist and Resident: “We live here affordably. Roza goes to the school nearby. This is where we have our community, our friends.

We had to start thinking about moving our entire lives somewhere else.”

Such worries pull the house together: artists and freelances live here. They pay six euros (€6) per square meter per month. In some nearby buildings, rents are almost double. Few here could afford such prices.

But now a public building company has agreed to buy the building. Rents will still increase — but only by a fraction. It’s a happy ending for these tenants.

But they want politicians to do more for the rest of Berlin.

Oliver Pfutzenreuter, Artist and Resident: “It’s fundamental that housing isn’t too expensive, that people can have a roof over their heads and that diverse groups of people can still afford to live in the city.”

The campaign posters are still hanging on the walls: they’re sending a message to other tenants about why it’s important to join together and fight for their rights.


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1. It is very easy to find and rent an apartment in Berlin. Is this entirely true, mostly true, in the middle, yes and no, partially true, largely false, or entirely false?

2. Is housing (rent) cheap, medium-priced or expensive in Berlin? What about wages?

3. There is a dearth (deficit) of housing in Berlin. Is this right or wrong? Has the situation changed over the years?

4. “In half a year, investors could buy the house, and renovate us away.” What does this mean? How did the residents feel?

5. Are residents (in this video) fatalistic or have they taken matters into their own hands? What have they done?

6. Have the renters of Tenants’ Association “won their battle”? What happened?

7. What are the short, medium and long term goals of the tenants?


A. Is housing cheap, medium-priced or expensive in your city? Is it easy or difficult to find an apartment?

B. Has the situation been changing over the years?

C. Why is housing expensive in places like Berlin, London and Paris?

D. What might happen in the future?

E. What should people and governments do?




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