There is a housing shortage in Germany, especially in the big cities. Jan Kralitschka was still busy handing out roses in 2013 as an RTL “Bachelor”, now as a lawyer for tenancy law he is helping desperate people looking for an apartment to finally find acceptable, affordable accommodation. “Housing desperately sought” was the programmatic title of the documentary that RTL broadcast for the first time on Tuesday evening.
Problem case one is Anika Kluge. She is in the awkward position of still having to share the three-room apartment with her ex-boyfriend a year and a half after their separation. Shortly after the separation, the little daughter Pia fell ill with leukemia and should not be torn from the familiar environment. Since then, Anika Kluge has had no luck on the rental market, and her ex is also opposed and wants to continue to bind her to the rental agreement.
“I applied for 80 apartments, I was only invited to ten,” the retail clerk from Berlin complains of her suffering. Kralitschka shows understanding: “Mrs. Kluge has it twice as difficult because there is also the fact that she cannot go to work. She gets 70 percent of her gross wages as sick pay.” For her daughter.
That doesn’t sound very tempting for landlords. “Mrs. Kluge’s application folder makes it particularly clear how important it is that you have to refer to an individual case.” In other words: describe the personal situation with the sick child. The tip helps, but then everything changes: Anika Kluge stays in the previous apartment with her daughter, her ex moves out.
Problem case two makes Kralitschka deeply affected: Discrimination when looking for an apartment – is that really the case in Germany so often? The sad suspicion grows in the Kimani family from Hamburg. Ruth and Kelvin Kimani come from Kenya, have been living in Germany since 2013 and have been looking for a larger apartment for three years without success. The current living situation of 40 square meters in the basement with a bathroom in the common hallway is no longer acceptable for the couple and their little daughter Eliana. On top of that, the second child is on the way.
But without giving a reason, the family gets one rejection after the next, both of them work in the care sector and could certainly afford a chic apartment for 2,900 euros a month. Kratlischka wonders: “Is the housing market really so overcrowded that you have been searching for three years without success with this generous budget? Or – you don’t dare to say – could it be the color of your skin or the African-sounding names?”
In order to find out, the lawyer carries out a so-called test: he applies with the documents of the Kimanis under their real name for 60 apartments. Shortly thereafter, he sends off exactly the same documents under the German-sounding name of Ramona Schulze and with a photo of a blonde editorial staff member.
The result is shocking: A total of twelve responses came for the wrong Ramona Schulze. In the case of six of these senders, the Kimanis did not receive any feedback at the same time, were rejected or invited to a later viewing appointment. Incidents “that can definitely be classified as discriminatory,” as the tenancy law expert finds.
Kralitschka is stunned: “I didn’t think that discrimination was still an issue.” He confronted Ruth Kimani with the negative feedback. “It makes me sad,” she sighs. “Me and my family have integrated ourselves in such a way that we do everything that has to be done. And that’s why we expect equal treatment in something like this.” She rejects a claim for damages.
Perhaps a personal certificate from the previous landlady will help: “They are both very nice people and hardworking and clean. I can’t explain it, because you couldn’t have better tenants.” In fact, that’s exactly the reason why the Kimanis finally found a spacious apartment outside of Hamburg in time before the birth.
Jan Kralitschka has the following tips for other desperate apartment seekers: The Schufa information must be complete, a certificate of freedom from rent debts is also important. If you can’t find anything in the city, look around in the country. It also doesn’t hurt if the application documents stand out from the crowd. After all, it is solvency and sympathy that decide who a landlord lets out an apartment to.
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The original of this article “In a TV documentary, ex-Bachelor reveals “discriminatory” incidents when looking for an apartment” comes from Teleschau.