Accommodation in Germany

property in Germany
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Updated 2019-08-28 07:29

Finding accommodation in Germany is always a challenge. The expensive prices and restrictive renting conditions can bring great difficulty to newcomers. Some landlords may require documents, or may want specific contractual conditions for the renting. In general, rents' prices vary according to the region, city or neighborhood in which you choose to settle. Rent is the single biggest expense you will have and it is worth a good investigation and knowledge.

As far as the rental market is concerned, Munich is by far the most expensive city in Germany concerning renting and the overall cost of living. Just after come Frankfurt and Stuttgart, and in the top list are also included Dusseldorf and Hamburg. By contrast, rent prices in Berlin and eastern Germany are much more affordable. Generally larger cities have a lot of demand, and so it is important to act wise and fast.

Finding accommodation in Germany

To start searching for accommodation in Germany you can do the research yourself, by looking on the internet or the social media. If you are looking for a flat to share ("Wohngemeinschaft" or "WG"), many dedicated websites are also available on the web. Some of the most famous are: Studenten WG, WG-Gesucht, WG-Cast, wg-suche.de, wohngemeinschaft.de. Some of the safest websites for overall search of apartments are: Medici Living, Wimdu, City Wohnen, Immowelt, ImmobilienScout24, Kalaydo, and Quoka. In addition, you can visit real-estate agencies online or on site, consult real-estate sections in newspapers, especially in weekend supplements of major German newspapers.

German apartments are usually unfurnished, without kitchen appliances and often very poorly equipped. The rent, payable on a monthly basis, generally does not include gas or electricity. However, it may include water, heating and maintenance fees. This is known in German as Warm and Kaltmiete. Warmmiete includes costs such as water, property tax, gas, electricity, and waste disposal services. The price difference between Warm and Kaltmiete is called Nebenkosten. It is important to research the average Nebenkosten in the city you want to live in order to be careful about the right amount mentioned by the landlord. If the monthly costs seem too low too low you may have to cover them at the end of the year, which can end up being a high additional payment. Note that in Germany, waste separation for recycling purposes is mandatory. Everything must be clearly stated in your rental agreement in any case. You have to be very careful, and check the contract beforehand. An important tip is to visit the apartment more times and at least one during daylight, where all the cracks or similar issues can be visible. Make sure that if you notice some defect early on, to take a picture with a date on it, to be able to prove to your landlord and to avoid extra expenses.

Once you have found accommodation in Germany, a two or three months' rent deposit is generally required. The landlord may also require from you financial statements as well as proof of employment. Some landlords may even ask for a recommendation letter by a previous landlord. Make sure that an inventory is done, and if not, make an inventory list as exhaustive as possible, especially if the accommodation is furnished.

In general, there are no fixed-term leases in Germany, though a minimum period of occupation of one or two years may be required. Termination notice is of two to three months. Fixed-term leases are possible resulting in more expensive monthly rents. In case your rental agreement requires from you a minimum period of occupation but you have to leave Germany before the term ends, you will be legally bound to your lease until the minimum occupation period ends. In other words, you will have to pay rent and maintenance fees until termination of the required minimum period term. However, you may be able to negotiate with your landlord to find a new tenant.

Unique aspects of German accommodation

You may encounter a few seemingly far-fetched German laws and habits when it comes to renting a place. In these cases it pays off to speak a little bit of German, and to hire a lawyer to check your contract beforehand. Here are just a few to keep you on your toes:

  • Many flats may not include the kitchen and German tenants are used to moving their own kitchen or having to buy it from the previous tenant. Funnily enough, Germans also tend to keep take their light fittings.
  • Depending on the local council arrangements, you will often have to register and pay individually for rubbish disposal and pick up your own garbage bin. This definitely encourages people to recycle as much as possible at the free collection points.
  • When renting a flat, check who is responsible for cleaning the staircase, front walk or shoveling snow in winter. It could be you! Many buildings respect weekly rotas.
  • There are laws when you have to avoid loud noises, for example on a Sunday.
  • You may have to ask the landlord's permission to have a pet or to install satellite dishes or television antennas.
  • Cars, bicycles and baby carriages may only be parked in designated areas. You may only wash and dry your laundry in areas provided by the landlord.

Finding and getting a new apartment in Germany without experience can be really tricky. Luckily, with the right directions, and some contacts which can help, this can be done easy and well. The most important thing is to be cautious, to understand the general conditions, and to be patient. This can require some time, so taking slowly can be a good options which in the end will bring a great result.

 Important:

Remember to submit the "anmeldeformular" to your landlord in order to file your residency certificate application!

For more information about rental agreements in Germany, visit the Deutscher Mieterbund (German rental board) website. 

 Useful links:

Scout24 - real-estate
Immonet.de - real-estate
WG Gesucht - flat-sharing
At Home
Deutscher Mieterbund - German rental board

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