Column makeshift label: could be a danger

One can be so blind. Yet the rumbling of suitcases cannot be ignored. An unmistakable sign of a vacation home in one’s own house.

You could also call such a short-term place to stay temporary use Photo: dpa

Now it’s really summer in front of the balcony and I can hardly open the balcony door. Not even because it’s so miserably hot. In summer temperatures, I like to sit outside with a cool drink (usually just sparkling water) – in the middle of the big old tree that stands in front of our house – and read a novel or listen to hours of audio books. It’s a great way to beat the heat. Every now and then a sparrow flies by, makes a sound and feeds on the lice in the leaves or does something else funny.

Actually an idyll. If only it weren’t for all the noise. I can no longer hear the sparrows chirping!

Because in the neighboring house, the attic has been expanded for a few weeks. It’s a pain in the ass. I don’t even feel sorry for the sweating construction workers anymore. And across the street, on the site of the old slaughterhouse, directly on Landsberger Allee, renovation work is actually underway on several listed halls. With heavy technology. Double the noise is too much even for me. So the balcony door stays closed. And I stay in the apartment.

I know that anyone who complains about noise in a big city is quickly labeled a bourgeois. But noise causes stress and, above all, bad moods. And citizens are powerless against construction sites and their negative effects.

This was also true for vacation homes for a long time, which gradually multiplied in the city like the proverbial rabbits. And until recently, I thought it was just someone else’s problem – the annoyance of having a vacation rental in your own apartment building.

Overlooking the signs

When in fact, I had simply overlooked the signs. For several months. One can be so blind, after all. The all-too-frequently changing faces in the stairwell, the cars with license plates from all over Germany and half of Europe, the constant rolling suitcases bumping across the backyard, and the typical noise they make that all of Berlin has learned to hate. It wasn’t until a new wheeled suitcase asked me for a name in the side wing – and also where the side wing was (just in the side wing!) – that I put something together.

For weeks now, I’ve been annoyed by excessively loud voices and drunken laughter in my house, in the middle of the night, during the week, because it wakes me up.

It’s like this: The subconscious routinely filters the sounds and noises during the night hours. Familiar sounds are classified as non-threatening and we continue to slumber. New, unknown noise causes us to wake up abruptly, because it could be a real danger (from an evolutionary historical point of view).

But the danger always comes from one and the same apartment in the backyard. This is small and acts like a sound amplifier. And because the voices sometimes speak Bavarian and sometimes Swabian and sometimes Italian and sometimes whatever, it’s clear: the apartment is a vacation home.

Do you want to be an asshole?

"Is it registered?" a taz colleague asked me when I told him how annoying I find a vacation apartment in my own house. Because since the beginning of August, there’s been a requirement in Berlin to register vacation rentals. And without an official registration number, a vacation home is illegal. Normal rental apartments should not be used for other purposes.

It is supposedly easy to check via Airbnb whether a vacation home in one’s own house is also registered as such. The colleague recommended to become active, should it be operated illegally, and then to report it to the district.

But I don’t want to be such an asshole. Not yet. Because while ranting about the assholes from the vacation apartment, one thing came to mind: I’ll soon be on vacation in Lisbon and stay – of course – in a stinkin’ normal vacation apartment in the middle of the old town. So I am one myself.

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