Fact Check

Rent in German Village Hasn't Increased in 500 Years and It Costs Only $1 a Year?

The Fuggerei, located a one-hour drive from Munich, provides affordable housing for needy citizens of Augsburg, primarily those of the Catholic faith.

Published May 3, 2024

 (Wikipedia/tippingpoint_/Reddit/Getty Images)
Image courtesy of Wikipedia/tippingpoint_/Reddit/Getty Images
Claim:
The German village of Fuggerei has not raised rent for more than 500 years, enabling residents to live there for $1 a year.
Context

Established in 1521, the Fuggerei, which is not a village per se but rather a gated community for needy residents of the city of Augsburg, Germany, offers housing for an annual rent of €0.88, an amount that hasn't increased for 500 years. Potential residents must meet certain age and religious requirements in order to be considered.

Over the past few years, a claim has circulated on various news outlets and on social media platforms, suggesting that the rent in a village called Fuggerei in Germany has not changed since 1520, allowing residents to live there for just $1 a year.

For example, a post to the Facebook account?Iyobosa Sullivance?in April 2024 stated, "In a German village Fuggerei, the rent hasn't raised since 1520. It costs just $1 to live the entire year."

(Iyobosa Sullivance/Facebook)

Another post shared to X in 2023 by the account @historyinmemes?received 2.9 million views and claimed that in?Fuggerei, "the rent hasn't been raised since 1520," and residents "still pay 88 euros as rent for an entire year."?

These claims are mostly true. Let's examine the facts.

The Fuggerei, located in Augsburg, Germany, about a one-hour drive northwest of Munich, is indeed a historic social settlement.?Jakob Fugger, a wealthy nobleman and banker, founded the Fuggerei in 1521 to provide affordable housing for the needy citizens of Augsburg, primarily those of the Catholic faith.?According to the the Fuggerei's official website, which confirms the annual rent of €0.88, the community consists of 67 houses and 142 apartments where 150 people currently live, along with its own church.?

Multiple sources and publications?report that residents of the Fuggerei pay an annual rent of €0.88, presently equal to slightly less than $1 (U.S.), along with a requirement to recite three Catholic prayers each day. This arrangement has persisted since the village's inception, making it one of the oldest continuously existing social housing projects globally.

Visitors to the Fuggerei can explore the church, the Night Watchman's Gate and social housing, among other local attractions, offering a glimpse into the community's historical significance. Additionally, the settlement features museums with reconstructed historical apartments and exhibitions, welcoming tourists for a small entrance fee.

While the claim is mostly accurate in stating that the rent in the Fuggerei has remained unchanged since 1521, it's essential to note that applicants who wish to live in the gated community and pay the negligible annual rent must be over the age of 60, debt free, a citizen of Augsburg, and a member of the Catholic Church.

There is also a 10 p.m. curfew, and residents are required to contribute to the community and provide for its upkeep by working as gardeners, sextons or night watchmen.?

In conclusion, while residents of the Fuggerei do pay a nominal rent of?€0.88, which works out to less than $1 per year as of this writing, and this arrangement has been in place since 1521 (not 1520 as has often been reported), the core assertion that rent has not increased over centuries holds true, earning this claim a rating of "Mostly True."

Sources

BN, Satya Priya. Fact Check: Rent in Fuggerei, Germany, Has Not Been Increased since 1520; Tenants Pay Less than $1 per Year. 1 Sept. 2020, https://newsmeter.in/fact-check-rent-in-fuggerei-germany-has-not-been-increased-since-1520-tenants-pay-less-than-1-per-year/.

Facts, Unbelievable. "Fuggerei, the German Village With Rent $1 Per Year Since 1520." Unbelievable Facts, 22 Mar. 2018, https://unbelievable-facts.com/2018/03/fuggerei.html.

Fuggerei. https://www.fugger.de/fuggerei. Accessed 1 May 2024.

Gesley, Jenny. "500-Year Anniversary of the Fuggerei – the Oldest Social Housing Complex in the World | In Custodia Legis." The Library of Congress, 23 Aug. 2021, https://blogs.loc.gov/law/2021/08/500-year-anniversary-of-the-fuggerei-the-oldest-social-housing-complex-in-the-world.

"Rent Hasn't Ever Gone Up In This Magical German Town In 500 Years Here's Why." Culture Trip, 15 Jan. 2018, https://theculturetrip.com/europe/germany/articles/fuggerei-heres-why-rent-has-never-gone-up-in-this-magical-german-town.

"Rent Only Costs 88 Cents Per Year In This Historic German Village." ELLE Decor, 24 Aug. 2015, https://www.elledecor.com/life-culture/news/a7635/german-village-with-88-cent-rent/.

"The Secret Book of Honors of the Fugger Family." Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, https://www.loc.gov/item/2021667751/. Accessed 1 May 2024.

"TIL Fuggerei Is a German Village Where the Rent Hasn't Increased in Almost 500 Hundred Years! The Rent Has Not Increased since 1520, and It Costs under $1 to Live a Full Year!" Reddit, Reddit, 2019, https://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/ci6w3i/til_fuggerei_is_a_german_village_where_the_rent/.

Nikki Dobrin is based in Los Angeles and has previously worked at The Walt Disney Company, as well as written and edited for People, USA Today and The Hill.