November 17, 2018

I Was Expelled by a German

I was so excited when, back in February at a Hollywood party, I met a German musician and his singer fiance, acquaintances to a friend, who had a flat for for rent in Berlin. He seemed nice, polite, welcoming. It spurred my decision to spend the summer in the German capital, since finding a sublet is half the battle. We negotiated 700 Euro for his spare loft for a few weeks. It came equipped with a music studio they'd sometimes use. Cool. I love musicians!

I offered to pay a deposit; he said it’s not necessary; my spot was secured. We had no contract; this was the honor system, but I felt I was in good hands. A month or two goes by, and I asked if the apartment would be available a week earlier. He said “yes,” but when I mentioned the updated, prorated price, he wrote back:

Actually when I told you in the first place about 700e a month I made a mistake as I had a wrong number in mind that [my fiancé]’s paying. [My fiancé] told me that the actual rent is 900 Euro all in.

Uncool. Exploitative. I had no choice but to take it, since it’s not worth the hassle to find something else. I let it slide because I wanted a “safe place to land,” and told him so.

A week and a half before my trip, I get what he calls “medium well” news:

We just got a request from Airbnb from someone who wants to rent my flat for a duration of two months starting may 1st. As we are short of money right now we can’t say no to this opportunity as we will earn more than 5k through that. I know it’s a bad move but in our situation there’s unfortunately no way around it.

He at least offered me to stay for the first week for a “safe landing”, but I didn’t want to risk it. Thankfully, I found an ever better option (let’s hope!), although the Berlin rental market is increasingly difficult. Demand is up, supply is down, in part due to the Muslim migrant influx. From May, it will be illegal for landlords to rent their apartments as holiday AirBnB rentals.

In a way, I’m glad this happened. It was a rude awakening that lowered my expectations of a smooth trip aided by kind locals. It also raised the question: is this par for the course in Germany?

It reminds me of a

Israelis sometimes have a reputation for being rude. Actually, I had been expelled by Jews twice (not including Gush Katif – that’s another story), by Tel Aviv landlords who finagled out of the lease so that they could remodel their complexes for more profitable flats. Could you call an entire country #dickish for the behavior of a few #dickish individuals? Or, in this case, a #deutschbag? As tempting as it is for a Jew to judge Germans particularly harshly, I think there are assholes everywhere. I’ve also had some really sweet Israeli landlords, and hopefully, my new German landlord will be sweet, too.

Extra cash is simply not worth being #dickish. A man’s word has immense value. Being honest these days is priceless, and I believe integrity will ultimately yield much more in the long run.

Still, I’ll take this as my symbolic, cautionary welcome to Germany: a Jew getting kicked out of her home before she even arrives.