Nearly 1,800 people turn up for single flat viewing in Berlin

How difficult is it to find a reasonably priced flat to rent in Berlin? Well, there's a lot of competition out there as this mass viewing shows.

Nearly 1,800 people turn up for single flat viewing in Berlin
Flat viewings in Berlin can be extremely stressful. Photo: DPA

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

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

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.

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.


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.

READ ALSO: The complete guide to how you can (still) live cheaply in Berlin

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Can you get in trouble for smoking on your balcony in Germany?

While it isn’t illegal to smoke on your balcony in Germany, there are certain considerations and restrictions that smokers should be aware of.

Can you get in trouble for smoking on your balcony in Germany?

The sunny weather has arrived in Germany and is hopefully here to stay. For many – particularly those living in big cities – that means spending much more time in the small, private outside space they have available: on the balcony.

But what if your time reclining in the sun is constantly disturbed by wafts of cigarette smoke from your neighbour’s balcony? Is there anything you can do about it? And if you’re a smoker with a complaining neighbour, can you insist on your right to smoke?

Though there is no general smoking ban on balconies in Germany, as they are considered private spaces, it’s an issue which often leads to disputes between neighbours. As a result, there are a few cases and court rulings which offer some guidance on the rules around balcony smoking. 

In April, one Twitter user in Berlin caused a storm by sharing a story about her partner being threatened with legal action if he did not submit his planned smoking schedule to his neighbour. 

Though it’s not clear if the case went to court, there is legal precedent to show that smokers can be restricted in the times they are allowed to smoke on their balconies. 

In 2017, a woman in Berlin was prohibited by a court order from smoking on her balcony between 8 pm and 6 am, as this was disturbing her upstairs neighbour. 

READ ALSO: Berlin woman faces €250,000 fine if she smokes on balcony past 8 pm

Another judgement from the Federal Court of Justice (Case No. V ZR 110/14) decided that generally, smokers are expected to consider the well-being of others even in outdoor areas, and they can be legally obliged to only smoke on their balcony at specific times.

According to the judgement in this case, non-smokers have the right to use their balcony without being bothered by smoke, while smokers have the right to live their lives as they choose, including smoking on their balcony.

Ultimately, it was decided that neighbours are not obliged to tolerate smoke constantly and therefore, smokers can be made to smoke at only specific times.

READ ALSO: From nudity to BBQs: What you can (and can’t) do on your balcony in Germany

Overall, non-smokers seem to have been successful in court over the years. 

In 2012, for example, the Hamburg Regional Court ruled that tenants of surrounding apartments can have a right to rent reduction if someone in the building frequently smokes on the balcony (case no. 311 S 92/10).

In 2014, the Frankfurt Regional Court decided that an owner can even be completely prohibited from smoking on their own balcony if the apartment has a second balcony where the smoke would have less impact on other residents of the building (case no. 2-09 S 71/13).

Rolf Bosse, Chairman of the Hamburg Tenants’ Association, recently told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that he expected courts will only become stricter in the future.

“Smoking as an expression of personal identity is becoming less socially accepted”, he said.

It’s worth noting that landlords or property owners can also prohibit smoking in shared areas such as hallways, laundry rooms, or basements. While a general or pre-formulated clause in the lease agreement is not enough on its own to enforce a smoking ban on balconies, landlords can establish individual agreements with tenants in writing and violating these agreements can potentially result in eviction.

Should I stop smoking on my balcony?

For now, smoking on your own balcony is not illegal, but it’s telling that, even in Berlin – a city which still has many smoking bars and smoking is generally socially acceptable – residents have been restricted in their right to smoke on their balconies. 

So if you are planning to smoke a lot on your balcony this summer, it’s probably a good idea to be considerate and initiate a conversation with your neighbours if you think your habit might become a disturbance. 

If you’re someone who is disturbed by smoke from your neighbours’ balcony, you are within your rights to ask them to be more considerate. 

READ ALSO: Why Germany needs to take the smoking ban more seriously