Once you arrive in Germany, finding a place to live is one of the most significant tasks. Only a few expats who have lived in Germany for a long time choose to buy a house or apartment, which is a far cry from the majority of expatriates who rent. Foreigners should be aware of several important details before signing a lease for an apartment in Germany to avoid being bogged down in red tape and experiencing unneeded anxiety.
This tutorial will show you how to avoid the pitfalls of renting an apartment in Germany, as well as what to look for in the rental agreement. You can also watch our video guide on finding a place to live in Germany if you prefer that format.
Is it better to rent or buy a home when visiting Germany?
For the most part, Germans prefer renting rather than owning a home or a flat. In the last 30 years, 57% of all German households were rented, compared to 43% of all German households that own their own homes. While the European average is roughly 70% of all citizens, Germany has the lowest percentage of private property owners by far within the EU.
Hypofriend, an expat-friendly mortgage firm, offers a calculator to help you decide whether to buy or rent a property.
What paperwork do You need to rent a German apartment?
Documents are a must in Germany when you’re looking to rent a home. They’ll let your landlord know you’re a reliable renter, and they’ll protect your own interests as a tenant by making sure you know your rights. Despite the fact that the following documents aren’t as required in areas like Berlin, they’re absolutely necessary if you plan on visiting the city. So, here’s the crux of the matter:
1. ID or Passport photocopy
In most circumstances, you’ll be asked to produce a copy of your driver’s license or passport to the landlord, the real estate agent, or both in order to sign the tenancy agreement.
2. Bank statements
You should be able to show that you have enough money in your bank account each month to cover your rent and other living expenses. The salary confirmation is often a pay stub that you receive from your employer. If you don’t have a pay stub handy, your bank statement from the last three months should suffice to show the landlord you have enough money to cover the rent.
3. Documentation of a credit history
Anyone who formerly lived or rented in Germany needs to know about this. SCHUFA Record or Schufa Selbstauskunft is a document that keeps track of your credit card debt.
Because a Schufa record is automatically created whenever you begin using German bank accounts or sign contracts in Germany, people who have never lived in Germany before do not have one. In this case, if you do not have a Schufa record, you can simply verify that you have always paid your rent on time by submitting bank statements.
The landlord will ask for a guarantor’s name if you are unable to furnish the aforementioned documentation. If you are unable to pay your rent for any reason, this individual must agree to do so. However, your parents can also serve as the guarantor if they are German.
How Can You find a place to live in Germany?
In Germany, there are a few options for renting an apartment. Rentals can be arranged in a variety of ways, including:
Renting a property through a real estate agent
In Germany, using an estate agency to rent an apartment can be convenient, but it can also be expensive. Owners use estate agents to assist them sell or rent their properties. In spite of this, the agents’ fees are included in the price of their services.
The commission is usually paid by the seller, unless you intend to purchase a home. Renters don’t have to pay a commission because the landlord normally does. For this reason, they choose to use websites rather than hire a real estate agent. It’s imperative that you double-check the payment terms of any contract before you sign it.
Eight Unusual Facts About German Apartments for Rent
Before you begin searching for an apartment in Germany, you should be aware of a few things. To some extent, they’re different from what you’re used to back home.
Unfurnished apartments are common in Germany. To help you understand what this implies, we’d like to provide some context.
In German Apartments, the Bathroom Is Included
Renting an apartment in Germany always comes with a bathroom included (s). Instead of a separate shower, it’s extremely typical for the shower to be built into the bathtub. The smaller the flat, the more likely it is that this will happen.
In Germany, apartments do not include a kitchen
Expatriates are shocked and in disbelief by this, which is by far the most surprising aspect of living abroad. Most unfurnished apartments for rent in Germany do not include a kitchenette. That’s correct, you did read that correctly!
But if you are looking to designed your kitchen from the scratch then this is the good oppurnity then you can go on to the kitchen hunt. You can check out our furniture guide. Keep in mind that installing of kitchen could take weeks if you want to hire somebody who install it for you.
How Do You Make A Decision?
If the photos of the apartment show that it has a kitchen, double-check that it’s included in your lease. If it isn’t, the prior tenant (who may or may not be the owner of the kitchen) will probably take it. So, your kitchen possibilities are as follows:
1. Acquire the former tenant’s kitchen furnishings
The previous renter either wants to take the kitchen with them to their new house, or they don’t want to take the kitchen and make it a need for you to buy it, generally at a very exorbitant price, from them when you move out of the property.
2. Restrict your search to units that include a kitchen
Einbauküche (built-in kitchen) is a common abbreviation, as is mit Küche (with kitchen).
3. Rent an apartment that is completely furnished
The most prominent rental property websites in Germany may have a few furnished apartments available. However, this is a rare occurrence. There has been an increase in the number of digital nomads and foreigners moving to Germany in recent years, which has resulted in a new market for furnished flat rentals. Please read on to learn more about each option.
4. Rent an apartment that does not have a kitchen and purchase one yourself
Finding a flat in Germany will be easier if you choose this route. A kitchen will cost you more money, but you may expect to pay less in rent. Purchasing a cutting-edge integrated kitchen can take up to two months to complete and cost upwards of a thousand euros. Obviously, if you want to stay for a long time, this option makes the most sense.
German Apartments Are Typically Devoid of Appliances
Equipment, such as washers and dryers, are treated in the same way as kitchen appliances. They are most likely not included. If you must purchase one, be sure to double-check the dimensions before making your purchase, as washing machines in Germany come in a variety of forms and sizes to accommodate apartments of various sizes. Because they take up a lot of room and use a lot of (expensive) electricity, dryers are less popular in Germany. When it comes to drying clothing, Germans rely on clothes racks.
In Germany, utilities are not included in rent
Warmmiete (warm rent) and Kaltmiete (cold rent) are two different terms for the pricing of a flat in Germany (cold rent). As a general rule, the cold rent is always the first price you see on a property. However, this is not the total price you’ll pay, since you’ll still have to pay for things like water, heating, rubbish collection, and cable TV, among other things. As a result, your total monthly cost includes both the cold rent and the utilities. You’ll need to sign up for an electrical provider if you don’t already have one.
Finding an apartment in Germany necessitates working with a diverse group of people
In the process of renting an apartment, there is no one point of contact. In the case of a sublet (Untervermieter), the landlord (Vermieter), a prior tenant (Vormieter), a property management company, an agency, or a tenant (Mieter) seeking for a sublet (Untervermieter), the person in charge of the listing could be anyone (WG-Bewohner). This means that you should carefully review the listing before making any decisions.
Germany Has a Lot of Deposits
Before you can move into your new house, you will most likely be required to pay a deposit (Kaution). The deposit can’t be more than three times the net cold rent, according to the law. Your security deposit will be held by the landlord for the duration of your stay in the apartment. You should receive your deposit back within three to six months after you’ve moved out. Renters may count on their security deposit being returned within a few days or weeks of moving out.
However, the landlord may keep some of your deposit if you caused damage or did not fully repair the apartment to its original appearance when you moved in. So be sure to take care of your unit and notify the landlord of any damages as soon as possible.
Apartment Floor Counting in Germany
Floor numbers in German apartment listings can be confusing, so don’t worry about it. Floors in Germany are referred to as the following:
- Keller (Basement)
- Basement (Ground floor)
- Etage (Floor)
- Dachgeschoss (Top Floor)
Apartment Room Count in Germany
It’s common knowledge that a German apartment’s kitchen and bathroom don’t qualify as a room. In Germany, a 2-bedroom apartment (2 Zimmer Wohnung) is the only option if you want a living room and a bedroom.
What are the terms of the rental agreement in Germany?
It’s a good idea to have a rental agreement because it spells out your responsibilities as a renter and clarifies any potential misconceptions. Rental agreements typically include the following:
- The length of time that the agreement will last
- The deposit amounts
- The monthly rental fee
- Depending on how you utilize it, you may incur additional expenses.
- Rent increases the amount of data available to the public.
- If you’re renting a furnished apartment, here’s a list of everything you’ll need.
- Pet rules (whether or not you’re allowed to keep them inside) are a consideration.
- The landlord’s regulations on what repairs they’ll and won’t pay for in the house
- Observe the length (usually three months, if you or your landlord wants to cancel the agreement)
What are the Rental Costs in Germany?
Cost per square meter is the most used method for determining average rental rates. However, the fees you can expect to pay will depend on where you aim to settle down in the future. Prices in urban areas tend to be more expensive than those in the suburbs.
According to the F + B MietspiegelIndex 2019, flats in Germany rent for an average of €7.04 a square meter, with the highest rents in Stuttgart and Munich clocking in at €10.41 and €9.74, respectively. There are higher rents in cities such as Hamburg, Leipzig, and Cologne than there are in cities like Munich, Cologne, and Cologne. Price increases are being blamed on increased demand in Berlin. Karlsfeld, in the Dachau region, 12 kilometres northwest of Munich, is Germany’s most expensive town, with an average net cold rent of €10.86 per square metre.
The average monthly rent in Dublin is €1,300, which is rather inexpensive. There is a big difference in price between a one-bedroom apartment in a German metropolis (about €700) and one outside the city (approximately €530).
When it comes to deposits and utilities in Germany, a three-month deposit is standard. I don’t think it should be any more than that. In contrast, utilities are typically not included in the rent and should be explicitly stated as such in the rental agreement. It is called “cold rent,” or Kaltmiete, when the rent does not cover heating and other utilities. A Warmmiete, on the other hand, includes the cost of heating and additional fees.
How To Locate A Rental Property In Germany
The time has come for you to begin your search, now that you know what to look for. We’ve compiled a list of the greatest and most popular rental property websites so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Rental Property Websites in Germany
In order of popularity, here are the most popular German rental property websites.
- Wg-gesucht.de (Mostly for WGs but you can find apartments as well)
Since not every apartment is featured on every website, it’s a good idea to check several of them out. You should register an account and enable an alert anytime a new matching listing is added. The importance of speed can vary greatly depending on the city or region you’re searching in. In other cases, it’s more vital to use the right program.
Websites To Rent Furnished Apartments In Germany
Renting in Germany while you’re still overseas may be more difficult because many German landlords like to see their prospective tenants before signing a lease, but it’s not impossible.
Renting a furnished short-term apartment is becoming increasingly popular as a means of ensuring a smooth arrival. In this way, you may get to know your city and the various areas before deciding where you want to settle down for the long term. The first few weeks of arriving in Germany can be stressful enough without having to deal with the stress of purchasing furniture.
Germany’s most popular furnished short-term rental property websites have been included here.
Rental prices for furnished long-term apartments will be higher than those for unfurnished apartments. As a result, the increased price includes internet access and most often does not require a credit check, known in Germany as SCHUFA record. Here, you’ll find a lot more information about the topic.
One additional thing to keep in mind.
- Make certain that you can register with this apartment when looking at furnished ones. Please attach landlord’s certification of residence, or Wohnungsgeberbetätigung, when stating that registration is possible. In order to do any of the following, you must first register.
- Other services, such as a bank account, mobile phone contract, etc., can be obtained in Germany.
- ID number for the German tax system, which you must provide to your employer in order to get paid correctly
- Begin building a credit history, which is critical if you plan to rent a long-term apartment in Germany
- Not to alarm you, but understanding how the various bureaucratic hoops intertwine is critical to a smooth transition to Germany.
- Don’t use Airbnb to start your new life in Germany. Most Airbnbs don’t let newcomers register, and this might be an enormous hurdle to your adjustment to the country’s culture and customs.
Agents of Real Estate In Germany
Through a real estate agent, you may also search for an apartment (Makler). Nationally, Engel & Völkel is a well-known firm. By law, the individual who employs the real estate agent is responsible for paying the agent’s fee (Bestellerprinzip). You will not be charged a fee if you see a listing that is managed by a Makler. But if you employ an agent particularly to find your dream home, you’ll have to pay the cost.
Six Tips for Applying for a Rent-to-Own Apartment in Germany
Renters in Germany must be trustworthy, as seen by the lengthy list of documentation required to secure a lease. Landlords in the German rental market place a high priority on permitting only trustworthy and responsible renters into their houses because of the strong tenant rights in Germany. Here are a few pointers to help you get the apartment you’ve been eyeing.
Make a phone call instead of sending an email if you find a property online that interests you. State that you are interested and would like to visit the property in person (Wohnungsbesichtigung).
The First Impression Is Everything
When visiting the flat, be courteous, confident, and well-dressed. Going to look at apartments is a lot like going to an interview.
Make Some Effort to Improve Your German
No matter how mediocre your German is, make an attempt to communicate and show that you’re interested in improving your language skills. It demonstrates to the landlord that you plan to stay for a longer period of time than six months.
Ensure that all of your paperwork is in order
Listed below are the most frequently required paperwork:
- A copy or scan of a driver’s licence or passport (Necessity)
- Tax returns or other proof of earnings (Necessity)
- A new SCHUFA high water mark has been set (Requested most of the time)
- A Rent-Freedom Certificate (Not always requested)
- An association of Mietbürgs (Not always requested)
- A letter or form of application (Sometimes requested)
- Insurance against a third party’s liability (Beneficial)
Don’t Bring Your Pet to the Visit if You Have One
Because many landlords do not allow pets, having a pet lowers the number of apartments that you can choose from. Make a nice first impression, and if you are friendly, mention your pet dog or cat and see if you can work out a deal to obtain the apartment!
Finding a rental flat in Germany can take months, depending on where you are seeking. It’s possible that the first residence you see is your fortunate shot. Set your expectations low, but be patient.
What Is Included in a German Rental Agreement?
As there is no standard document for rental contracts in Germany, they exist in various forms and sizes. Every rental agreement in Germany must, however, include the following 10 sections:
The Term of the Agreement
Rental agreements in Germany can only be limited in duration if the landlord has a compelling cause to keep the apartment after the term of the agreement expires (e.g., selling it or using it themselves). Rental agreements that include an end date are illegal in Germany unless there is a valid justification for doing so.
Monthly Rent Amount
Rent and utilities are divided among the two parties. Because utility costs can rise as a result of increased consumption (e.g., heating), you must be aware of the difference between the two. Additionally, the contract should detail the utilities included in the deal.
Sum Paid in Advance
The number of months’ rent you paid as a deposit must be documented in writing in order to ensure that you receive it back. There can be a maximum of three cold rents every month.
A Pet’s Code of Conduct
Especially if you plan to adopt a pet in the future, check sure you can have one according to the rental agreement.
A Complete Catalog of All Furniture And Appliances
In the event that you’re renting a furnished apartment, be sure you know exactly what you’re getting.
Notice of Intent
For rentals in Germany, the notice period is usually three months for both sides.
The House Rules
House regulations, such as how to separate waste and how it should be handled, are almost certainly going to be written down. As part of your lease agreement, you may also find out what repairs your landlord will cover and what repairs you are responsible for.
Increases in the Rental Rate in the Future
This is entirely up to your landlord’s discretion. They may include a mention of price increases in the future. If this is the case, you should be aware that in Germany there are tight limits on the amount that a landlord can raise the rent. A total of twenty percent may be borrowed over the course of three years. Renting a similar-sized living space in your city will always determine the utmost amount you can afford. Three years later, the landlord can raise the rent again.
Method of Rent Payment
Most people use a bank transfer to make their rent payment. The landlord’s bank account information must be included in the rental agreement. To avoid late payments, we recommend setting up a standing order two days before the rent is due in your online bank account.
We’ve provided a link to the German association of renters’ rental contract in both German and English for your convenience (Mieterbund). It’s always a good idea to have a legal professional review your rental agreement before you sign it.
Such services can be found on the internet consulting site yourXpert. If you use Chrome as your browser, then right-click and select “translate to English,” you can translate their website to English. In order to ask a question, you can fill out the form and do so in English. A response from an English-speaking lawyer is expected within 24 hours of yourXpert forwarding your request.
7 Things You Should Attend to After You Move In
Greetings from Germany, where you have now successfully settled into your new residence! Before you can kick back and enjoy the fruits of your labor, there are a few more tasks to complete. There are detailed guidelines for each stage, so this is just a brief overview.
1. Take Photos of Your Flat
Take pictures and videos of your new apartment as soon as you get the keys so you know exactly how it looks when you move in. A record of it is usually a good idea. There is no guarantee that your landlord or property management will remain the same over time.
2. The process of registering
Within two weeks of moving in, you must register your new address with the local authorities.
3. The Doorbell and Letter Box Should Bear Your Surname
After you’ve moved in and registered, you’ll get official mail in the coming weeks. Your last name must appear on both the letterbox and the doorbell. To find out if you’ll be responsible for this, speak with your landlord or property management. Germans still like to send and recieve letters so be ready for it.
4. Get A Home Internet Contract
Don’t wait too long to get your internet service activated after signing a contract; it can take up to six weeks.
5. Register for a Utility Billing Service
You won’t be without electricity when you move in, but you can save hundreds of euros a year by picking a different provider.
6. Get Household Insurance
It’s a good idea to think about securing the things you’ve just brought into your new home by buying the household insurance after they’ve been there for some time.
7. So, Keep an Eye Out for That Postal Service Letter!
For the public broadcasting stations in Germany, each household must pay a licence fee. A few weeks after completing the Anmeldung, you will receive a letter requesting your registration and payment. Keep reading our Rundfunkbeitrag guide to learn how to deal with this letter.
The Ending Thoughts
For those who are looking for a new house in Germany, this has been a comprehensive guide. We hope this information is useful to you and that you have a successful apartment search.