The foyer of a lecture hall at Berlin's Humboldt University/Photo: Femi Awoniyi

Students face accommodation crisis in Berlin

The housing shortage among students in Berlin may be getting worse, according to a new report by the German news agency dpa. The waiting time for a place in a student hostel, for example, is at least three semesters.

At the beginning of the summer semester, many students in Berlin are still desperately looking for a flat. As of 1 April, more than 1,700 students have applied a place in a student dormitory, as a spokesperson for the Berlin Student Union told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. They have to wait a long time as the waiting time is at least three semesters.

According to information, there are currently more than 4,600 people on the waiting list (as of 11 April). The housing complexes of the Studentendorf Schlachtensee cooperative, which have just under 1,190 places, are also all fully occupied, according to a spokesperson of the facility. Almost 200,000 people study in Berlin.

Exploitation of students

Because of the acute housing shortage, many students have to stay temporarily in hostels or accept a rent of up to 80 percent of their monthly income, the dpa reported.

A student interviewed in the report narrated how he’s had to move places frequently. The 24-year-old has lived in Berlin for two and a half years and has already lived in three different flats during that time. He has to move again because his current sublet contract will expire in July. One can only imagine the stress the students have to go through to always have to be in search of an apartment. And to make matters worse, many landlords do not accept students.

Added to the woes of the students are the high prices they have to contend with as Berlin’s housing market in most expensive in Germany after Munich. A room will cost an average of 640 euros in the summer semester of 2023, as the Moses Mendelssohn Institute (MMI) in cooperation with the real estate portal published in a study a few weeks ago, the dpa report revealed. This is 140 euros (plus 28 per cent) more than twelve months ago.

The housing situation is especially hard on foreign students, whose plight is exploited by landlords through overpriced offers.

Generally, the crisis puts many students in precarious situations. “I know young women who have to live with extremely unpleasant older men, simply because they can’t find a flat any other way,” a respondent in the report is quoted to have said.

To remedy the situation, the government of Berlin says that around 4,560 student dormitory places would be built by 2026. Until that happens students should think twice before choosing to study in Berlin because of the housing shortage in the city.

Femi Awoniyi

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