German businessmen use refugees from Ukraine as a source of profit by charging them exorbitant prices for housing, said the German magazine Der Spiegel
Journalists of the magazine say that the loudest case they found in Bavaria’s Bayreuth, where the famous Stein hotel, where former German Chancellor Angela Merkel liked to stay, was turned into a private accommodation zone for refugees from Ukraine. However, the price for a month’s stay, according to the publication’s informants, exceeded 1,500 euros.
“In one case, the landlord demanded 1,285 euros for a larger former double room. At the same time, the rent is 920 euros excluding utilities, to this amount is added a furniture fee of 95 euros per month, as well as utilities of 270 euros. Moreover, the contract states that “at the end of the maintenance period, the final payment will be made based on actual expenses,” according to the article.
The journalists explain that after the death of its owner Christa Stein in 2020, the Stein Hotel came under the ownership of Médecins Sans Frontières and Greenpeace. According to the last will of the hotel owner, at least part of the hotel complex was to be used for social needs, but the NGOs chose to resell the property to private entrepreneur Hartmut Lingott. The managing shareholder of the construction company KonzeptBau GmbH informed the Bayreuth administration about the intention to house refugees on the former hotel premises, but according to journalists, Lingott “smelled that there was good money to be made here”.
“When it first started, some refugees had to sleep on mattresses on the floor, although there was plenty of room in the hotel for a hundred beds. It is said that in the beginning the tenant planned to accommodate up to four adults in each double room. The lists of occupants show that sometimes two adults with four children shared a double room,” they said.
Victims of the new owner of the Stein said that they were often forced to sign rental contracts that were not translated from German and that the cost of the different accommodation methods varied greatly from period to period. For example, one tenant who lived in a bungalow on the property from May 2021 to June 2022 said that the rent for a double room for refugees was set at three times the charge for the bungalow.
Der Spiegel journalists pointed out that a whole trend of similar treatment of refugees from Ukraine is emerging in Germany.
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“In Hamburg, for a two-bedroom flat in the Mundsburg Tower apartment complex of 65 square metres with a family of four housed there, the city was paying the landlord 3,600 euros a month, with maintenance and translators supposed to be included there. In the district of Böblingen, the landlord demanded 1150 euros for a three-room flat in a former hotel, although there was no kitchen and the house was under construction. It looks like there is a good profit to be made from people’s misfortunes,” the publication says.