Daily News Portal

Living in Germany: Rent scams, strawberry queens and English words derived from German

Living in Germany is our weekly look at some of the news, talking points and gossip in Germany that you might not have heard about. Members can receive it directly to their inbox on Saturday by going to their newsletter preferences. We publish the article the following Monday.

If you’ve gone through the stress of searching for a flat in one of Germany’s larger cities in the last few years, you’ll be aware of how bad the renting situation has become. With rising prices and a shortage of flats, it’s hard to even get a viewing in some places like Munich and Berlin. The situation has resulted in criminals taking advantage of the situation and unfortunately, scams are getting more common. 

Our story this week on a woman who lost €4,000 trying to secure an apartment in Berlin shone a light on this issue. Helna, a software developer from India who was relocating to Berlin from Hamburg, went through the stress of five months of flat searching before finally being offered an apartment. She was asked to pay €4,066 upfront, which was equal to three months of rent plus a deposit, to get the flat.

Feeling the pressure, Helna signed the contract and made the bank transfer. When the agent started demanding more money a few days later, Helna began to realise she had been conned. After reporting the incident to the police, Helna is still waiting for an update on the investigation – three months on. 

Unfortunately, many people fall victim to these kinds of scams, and it’s not hard to see why. Many of the ads on sites like Immobilien Scout disappear in minutes due to an avalanche of people desperately applying for flats. So it’s easy for people’s personal data – like wage slips, ID and contact details – to fall into the wrong hands.

ImmobilenScout24 told The Local that they take fraud very seriously and aim to combat it along with police. But perhaps even more safeguards should be in place on sites like these to help people stay clear of fraudsters – especially if the difficult situation regarding housing is set to continue. 

Tweet of the week

Those of us who live in Germany have to get used to carrying coins and notes in our wallets because many places still don’t accept card payments. We might forget how strange the cash obsession is to people visiting Germany from abroad. 

Where is this?

Photo: DPA/Friso Gentsch

As you probably know, Germany takes its food seasons very seriously – just think of Spargelzeit (asparagus season) and the Spargelköniginnen (asparagus queens) that pop up every year in spring and early summer. But perhaps you’re not aware that strawberry season or Erdbeersaison is a big deal, too. You might also see the odd Erdbeerkönigin at this time of year.

The strawberry queen from Oldenburger Münsterland in Lower Saxony is pictured here throwing sweets into the crowd at the Stoppelmarkt festival parade. The traditional festival has been taking place for 725 years. And, yes, there are lots of strawberries!

Did you know?

The English language emerged from a mish-mash of different languages, cultures and influences, and has Germanic roots. So it’s perhaps no surprise that many German words are used in modern English, such as ‘angst’ and ‘doppelgänger’. But did you know that delicatessen derives from German?

Delicatessen shops came from the German “Delikatesse”, meaning delicacies. But it gets more complex. The German word has its roots in the Latin “delicatus” and the French word “délicatesse”. But the French term for a fine foods shop is actually “une épicerie fine”.

Shops called ‘delicatessens’ were first opened in New York and London by German proprietors, such as Lingner’s Delicatessen on London’s Old Compton Road in Soho, recorded in 1877. Read more on the origins of German words used in English here.

Compiled by Rachel Loxton

Read More:Living in Germany: Rent scams, strawberry queens and English words derived from German