Renting in Germany – Ultimate 2022 English Guide to Finding Your Apartment in Germany

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Looking for a rental apartment in Germany can be a frustrating process. I have moved many times within Germany and I understand the pain. Therefore, I have put together this ultimate guide about renting in Germany. You will learn how it works to find and live in a rental apartment in Germany. I also include some tips that will increase your chance of finding your dream rental apartment in Germany.

Buying vs. renting your apartment in Germany?

Compared to other European countries, Germany has quite a low homeownership ratio. In 2020, only about 50% of people in Germany own their own house. Whether it is better to buy or rent your apartment in Germany depends a lot on your personal situation.

In general, I would suggest buying a property if you can afford it. In the big cities in Germany, the house price and rental price are constantly rising over the years. This is due to the population growth in the big cities. And the property demand vastly exceeds supply in the urban areas. 

To give you an example: we bought our house close to Munich for around 500,000 Euros 4 years ago. When I look at a similar house today in the same area, a house like ours is selling for 800,000 Euros! 

On the other hand, the interest rate for getting a mortgage is extremely low for some years now (only 1 – 2%). It means that the cost of getting a mortgage is really, really cheap at the moment.

If you are thinking about buying an apartment in Germany but are not sure if you can get a mortgage, the easiest way is to use a free online mortgage calculator. Just enter the house price, your down payment amount, and some other basic info. You can then see the different mortgage options in minutes and consult with a financial adviser there about each option.

Reasons for renting an apartment in Germany

Of course, I understand that buying an apartment in Germany may not be suitable for everyone. There are also many benefits if you are renting in Germany:

  • The German law is in favor of the tenant
  • You are more flexible and you can move to another apartment by giving a 3-month notice
  • You don’t need to get a mortgage or have a big amount of money
  • You don’t need to go to the notary and deal with a lot of paperwork
  • You don’t have to pay for repair and maintenance costs

So, for people who just plan to stay temporarily and those who do not have a lot of savings, renting in Germany may be a better choice.

In case you want to buy your own property in Germany, don’t forget to check out these guides:

Before searching for your apartment in Germany

Before searching for your rental property, you should think about what you want. Some questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • How many bedrooms do you need?
  • What size of apartments are you looking for?
  • What is the maximum amount of rent in your budget?
  • Which area do you want to live in? e.g. inside or outside the city.
  • Are you looking for temporary housing or a permanent one?
  • Do you want to live alone or with other housemates?
  • Do you want to live with your friends or strangers?
  • How many housemates do you want to live with?
  • Do you need a car park nearby?
  • Do you need to live close to public transportation?
  • Is it okay to live on the ground floor or the top floor?

Thinking about these questions can help to guide you in your search. You will then know which platforms you should focus on when searching for a flat, e.g. some platforms focus on shared apartments. 

Most platforms allow you to use a filter for your search. Once you know what you want, you can search easier by filtering the range of the rent, the number of rooms, the housing types, etc.

Read also: Best Blocked Bank Account in Germany – Compare the Top 3

Renting in Germany – How much do you have to pay?

How much is the rent in Germany?

How much rent you have to pay depends a lot on where you live. If you live in a big city in Germany, the rent level can be significantly higher than if you live outside the city. 

To give you some ideas, below is the average rental price per square meter from different cities in Germany. This data is extracted from Statista for the period 4Q 2021.

City

EUR per m²

Munich

19.37

Frankfurt am Main

16.11

Stuttgart

15.22

Berlin

14.75

Freiburg

14.36

Düsseldorf

14

Mainz

13.9

Hamburg

13.62

Darmstadt

13.54

Rosenheim

13.23

As you can see, the rent level can be very different depending on the city. If you are looking for an apartment inside Munich with around 50 m², the cold rent can be close to 1,000 Euros. It means that you may need to budget over 1,000 Euros monthly costs including utilities, electricity’s and internet/ phone services. 

Living outside the city

One of the ways to save money is to live outside the city. In fact, more and more people are looking for flats outside the city due to the high costs inside the city. During the pandemic, many people were working from home, and the demand for flats outside the city increased. 

I personally live also outside the city but around the Munich area. In the small town I live, we can afford to buy a house with a big garden. It will not be possible for us to afford this if we live inside Munich.

You can see below the medium cold rent per square meter in January 2022 according to immowelt. This data is for Germany as a whole. 

Apartment size (m²)

Medium cold rent per m²

below 40

11.3

40 – 60

8.1

60 – 80

8.2

80 – 100

8.9

100 – 120

8.9

above 120

9.2

You can see that the rent can be significantly lower if you are not living in one of the most expensive cities in Germany. For example, the medium rent for a 50 m² in Germany is about 410 Euros only. You may only need to budget about 600 Euros monthly costs (with utilities). This is significantly cheaper than if you live in Munich (more than 1,000 Euros monthly).

For more tips about the different costs and how to save money, check this out: Cost of living in Germany – How to save money?

The rent amount of your apartment is regulated in Germany

Rent increase – A new rental contract

In some cities in Germany, the rent amount is regulated and the landlords cannot increase the rent on an existing contract within a certain period. In general, the landlord can only increase the rent once a year (with a maximum of 20% in 3 years). That is the reason why once a tenant moves out of the flat, the landlord may charge a significantly higher rent amount to the next tenant.

It means that if you find your rental property through a friend, your rental contract may have a higher rent than your friend even though you will live in the same apartment. 

Rent increases – An existing rental contract

An exception would be if there is a stepped rent (Staffelmiete) stated in an existing rental contract. In this kind of contract, the rent is planned to gradually increase over time. However, the landlord cannot increase your rent in the first year of your rental contract. Besides, the rent increase cannot be higher than 15-20% over three years in general.

Make sure to check your rental contract to see if any stepped rent is planned to avoid any bad surprises in the future.

Your rent amount should also be in line with the rent level in your area

If the rent for a similar flat in your area is about 800 Euros per month, your landlord is not allowed to charge you 1,500 Euros per month. The higher level of the rent needs to be justified by why this flat is superior to the others, e.g. better energy efficiency, a new renovation, better equipped like underfloor heating, etc.

I remember once our neighbor upstairs came to ask us how much rent we were paying (when we still lived in our rental flat). He found out that he was paying 200 Euros more per month than us, while our flats are pretty much the same. So, he went back to his landlord and negotiate for a rent reduction. Therefore, if you suspect that you are paying too much rent, ask around your neighborhood to find out and you may be able to negotiate a rent reduction as well.

How much rent should you aim at?

As a rule of thumb, you should earn at least 3 times the cold rent. If your cold rent is 400 Euros, your salary after tax should be at least 1,200 Euros. If you are living with your partner, you should use your combined salary for the calculation.

Cold rent vs. Warm rent

Cold rent (Kaltmiete)

Unless specified, the price you see in a listing is usually the cold rent. Cold rent is the price you have to pay for your rental property, excluding heating and utilities. This is not the total monthly cost you have to pay.

Utilities (Nebenkosten)

The cost of utility is usually not part of the rent. If you are not sure, check your rental contract. Utility costs include heating, water, trash collection, snow removal on the street, and any other cleaning services in the building.

Warm rent (Warmmiete)

Warm rent is the total monthly cost you have to pay (cold rent plus utility costs). Note that in many cases, electricity and internet services are not included in your warm rent. Most tenants will need to take care and choose their own electricity providers and internet providers. You can read more tips here:

You will need to pay a deposit

You will be asked to pay a deposit (Kaution) when renting an apartment in Germany. This is for protection for the landlord in case you damage something in the rental property, or if you stop paying rent. The amount of deposit is usually 2 to 3 months’ net cold rent. Note that it is illegal if the landlord asks you for a deposit of more than 3 times’ net cold rent.

Your landlord should put your deposit in a special saving account for as long as you are staying in the flat. When you move out of the rental flat in the future, you should get back your deposit (plus any interest) if everything is okay in the flat. 

During your stay, you are usually allowed to decorate the apartment as you like. You can even paint the wall in another color. However, you are required to return the rental apartment to the original state when you move out, e.g. painting the wall white again (I was even asked to paint the wall of my student dormitory room when I moved out!). Some landlords may also require this renovation work to be done by a professional. Besides, you should also remove your curtains and carpets from the flat.

To avoid any conflicts, an inventory and inspection should be done when you move in and move out. Check if there are any pre-existing damages in the flat when you move in. Make a lot of pictures as you can use them as proof if needed in the future.

Renting in Germany – What documents do you need?

Below are some common documents you will need when renting an apartment in Germany. Even though not all the below documents will be required by each landlord, it is good to have them ready so that you can save time during your search. A tip would be to create one PDF that contains all the below documents. You can then easily attach the PDF to each of your rental apartment applications.

Documents that are definitely needed by your landlord:

1. A copy of your ID/ passport 

You will need to provide a copy of your passport if you sign a rental contract. But sometimes you may also need to provide this when you just have an appointment to view the flat.

2. Confirmation of your salary or your bank statements

You can show your work contract or your bank statements to prove that you have enough money for renting the apartment in Germany. The landlord will usually require the last 3 payslips. If you are self-employed, you can show your profit in the last few months. 

If you do not work, you should provide proof of your scholarship or other documents which show that you can afford to pay the rent.

Documents that your landlord may request:

1. A copy of your residence permit

2. An application form or letter 

Some landlords may require you to fill in an application form (Mieterselbstauskunft). Some may even ask you for an application letter (yes, it is like applying for a job). The application form contains your contact data, some other basic information, and maybe also a short self-description.

Even if your landlord may not require you to provide an application letter, I would highly recommend you to prepare one. Your application letter can differentiate you from the other applicants. In the letter, you should describe yourself and also why you will be a good tenant. For example, you don’t have pets, you do not smoke, or you are mostly not at home, etc.

Another tip is to include a nice photo of you in your application to give a good impression to your landlord.

3. Your credit record (SCHUFA)

Your credit score in Germany shows that if you are paying your bills on time. You can get your credit record here. Or check out this post for more details: What is SCHUFA – How to get SCHUFA in Germany?

If you have just moved to Germany, you may not have a SCHUFA record yet. In that case, you should provide your bank statements which prove that you have a stable income and always pay your rent on time.

4. Proof that you have no debts with your previous landlords

This is called a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung in German. You should ask your current landlord to fill in this form, which confirms that you always pay the rent on time and there are no outstanding rental debts. Here is an example of the form.

If you have not moved to Germany yet, it is still beneficial to ask your current landlord to write you a letter. It is to show that you always pay rent on time. Note that you should have the letter in English or translate your local letter into German.

5. A guarantor (Bürgen)

Your landlord may request you to state a guarantor in case you cannot prove your income. For example, if you are a student without income, your parents can be your guarantor. Ideally, your guarantor should be someone in Germany.

6. Private liability insurance

Some landlords prefer their tenants to have private liability insurance. Your private liability insurance may cover the costs in case you cause any damages to the flat. Here are some examples:

  • Your washing machine leaks and floods your rental apartment. All the wooden floor needs to be replaced. 
  • If you lose your apartment key, the locks for your whole building may need to be replaced. This can easily cost thousands!

You can see why a landlord prefers someone with private liability insurance. The damage in a flat can easily cause thousands of Euros and not every tenant can pay that (especially for students or young people). 

Therefore, even if your landlord does not require this, I would highly recommend you to get private liability insurance. It costs only a few Euros per month for a total coverage of up to 50 million Euros. This insurance does not only cover damages you caused in your rental apartment but also damages to any other third parties. The vast majority of German people have liability insurance.

You can check out this post for more details: Liability Insurance Germany –  English Guide

PHV - 15 EUR Rabatt_Renting in Germany_renting an apartment in Germany

Most rental apartments in Germany are unfurnished

When I say unfurnished, I mean the properties have basically nothing. There are no built-in cabinets or closets, no curtains, no light fittings, and even no kitchen! You may have to buy your own stoves, kitchen cabinets, kitchen sink, wardrobes, lights, shelves, etc.

Don’t expect to see any appliances in your rental flats. You have to buy your own washers, dryers, fridges, and dishwasher if you want them.

Renting a furnished apartment in Germany is possible. But it is rare and also more expensive than renting an unfurnished apartment in Germany.

You may need to buy your own kitchen

One of the most shocking things for expats in Germany is to find out that their rental apartments do not come with a kitchen! What does that even mean? It means, there is no kitchen: no stove, no sink, no cabinets. There are just the walls and the floor.

Why the hell is the kitchen not included in a rental flat?

It is typical for German people to live in the same flat for many years, or even for their whole life. Therefore, many people want to choose a kitchen that they like. Buying their own kitchen means that they can choose the kind of kitchen cabinets, the size and number of their sinks, and the type of stove. These are all important factors if you stay in a flat for many years. Besides, they can pay a lower rent when the kitchen is not included.  

On the other hand, the landlords don’t have to take care of the maintenance of the kitchen. When the tenants buy their own kitchen, the maintenance costs would be their own responsibility.

So, what can you do?

If you see a picture of a kitchen in the listing while looking for your rental apartment, do not assume that kitchen is included. The same applies to any furniture you see in the picture. You should read carefully in the listing what is included and what is not. The previous tenants may take away all the furniture (and also the kitchen) with them when they move out of the flat. So, what should you do about the kitchen?

1. Buy the kitchen from the previous tenant

This is the most common way. When someone moves out of his rental flat, he probably does not want to take the old kitchen with him. It is because the kitchen is a very customized product. The size of the old kitchen may not fit in his new flat. Besides, it is a lot of work of uninstalling, transporting, and reinstalling the old kitchen in the new flat. 

So, most people either buy a brand new kitchen that fits better in their new flats, or they take over the existing kitchen from the previous renter in their new rental flat.

Since they do not need the old kitchen anymore, they will likely make the next tenant buy it from them. It is a win-win situation if you do not want to bother buying a brand new kitchen.

2. Find a rental apartment in Germany with a kitchen included

Some rental apartments are unfurnished but yet have kitchens included. You should look for the word “EBK” in the listing, which means “Einbauküche”, or built-in-kitchen in English. Note that the landlord can charge a higher rent if a kitchen is included in the rental property.

Renting a fully furnished apartment in Germany is another possibility. This kind of apartment is not as common in Germany. But it can be a good option for expats, especially as temporary accommodation. You can see more detail here

3. Buy a brand new kitchen yourself

Even though you will pay a lower rent if your rental property does not come with a kitchen, a brand new kitchen can cost you a few thousand Euros. So, it only makes sense to buy one if you are staying in the rental apartment for a longer term. 

Besides, it may take several weeks until your kitchen is delivered and installed (You cannot cook at home during this time!). It is a higher investment and involves more work at the beginning. But you can choose a kitchen that exactly suits your style. 

Types of housing in Germany

Depending on your purpose of stay in Germany, you can choose to live in different types of housing. Below are some common types:

Apartments in Germany

If you want to live in a big city, it is rare (and expensive) to find a house. Renting an apartment in Germany is much more common. You can find a small apartment that is suitable for 1 to 2 people. Some apartments also include a garden, terrace, or balcony.

Although it is possible to find a furnished apartment, most of the apartments are rented out unfurnished. 

Shared apartments (WG) in Germany

Shared apartments are very popular in Germany, especially for students or young people. You will rent only a room in the apartment while sharing the bathroom, kitchen, and living room with your other housemates. It is much more economic to live in a shared apartment, and the room is usually furnished. Besides, it is also a great way to meet new people.

The rental contract for a shared apartment is usually more informal. You will most likely need to deal with the main tenant who is living there and subletting the apartment, instead of the real landlord.

Houses in Germany

Renting a house in Germany is more common outside of the city. It is also more expensive. A house can come with a garden, terrace, and basement. It is suitable for families with kids who need more living spaces.

Student dormitory

In most university towns, you will find different student dormitories. You will have your own room while sharing the bathroom and kitchen with other students in the same building. The price of a room in the student dormitory is usually very low compared to a private flat. Another advantage is that you will be renting a furnished room in Germany. However, it can be quite competitive to get a room in the student dormitory, especially in a big city.

Landlord hosting

Some landlords rent out part of their houses (a room) to students or other young people. In this case, you will live together with your landlord (which is good if you want to immerse yourself in the German culture). 

One common example of landlord hosting is the case for an au pair. An au pair is a helper from a foreign country who works for and lives in a host family in Germany. She will be treated as part of the family. She can have her own furnished room and enjoy home-cooked meals during her stay.

What is counted as “a room”?

If you are looking at the property listing in Germany, you will notice that the property description includes the size of the properties, as well as the number of bathrooms and bedrooms.

In Germany, the size is indicated by square meters (1 square meter is about 10 square feet). Sometimes, you will also see the total number of rooms. Note that when they say “room”, it does not just mean bedroom. If you see a listing stating a “2 Zimmer Wohnung (2-room apartment)”, it means there are one bedroom and one living room. But the bathroom, halls, and kitchen in Germany do not count as a room.

So, if you want to find a flat with a living room plus 2 bedrooms, you should be looking for a 3-room apartment (Drei Zimmer Wohnung).

If you see “0.5 room” in the description, it means that there is a small room (between 6 to 10 square meters).

Renting in Germany – how to find your rental apartment?

Below are the 6 ways to look for your rental apartment in Germany

1. Rental apartment websites in Germany

a. General online platforms

There are many online platforms that you can use to search for your rental apartment. You should try to look on more than one platform to increase your chance of finding an apartment. Below are some of the popular platforms:

Immobiliensout24

Immowelt

Immonet 

Spotahome

Wohnungsbörse.net 

Wohnung-jetzt.de 

Meinestadt.de 

Immobilo

Zeitwohnwerk 

You should set up a notification on these platforms so that you can receive an update once a new listing that fits your criteria is listed.

b. Short-term furnished rental apartment in Germany

Most landlords in Germany want to have a face-to-face meeting with the potential tenants before renting the apartment to them. So, it would be extremely difficult to find a rental apartment in Germany if you are still abroad. 

Before I moved to Germany, I tried to find an apartment in Germany when I still lived in Hong Kong. I tried for months without any result. I was a student and didn’t have anything with me. So, in the end, I booked a hostel in Germany for 2 weeks to gain some time and find my permanent apartment.

Living in a hostel is not very nice. Renting a temporary furnished rental apartment in Germany is another option. Renting such an apartment is much easier, and it can give you some time to look around the city until you find your permanent apartment. You also don’t need to worry about furniture at the beginning and can ensure you have a place to stay once you arrive in Germany.

Below are some popular websites for renting a furnished rental apartment in Germany:

Homelike
  • Largest online marketplace for long-term furnished apartment rentals
  • Fast and simple – Book your apartment directly online
  • No extra customer fees
  • All the utility costs are included in the rent
  • Flexible – some apartments can be canceled for free up to 2 days before move-in
  • Many pet-friendly apartments and deposit free apartments
Uniplaces
  • All apartments are furnished and verified
  • Offers include rooms, entire properties, studios, student residences, and family houses.
  • Simple and efficient booking process, 100% online with no bureaucracies
  • Customer support before and after the booking
  • An official document can be provided for your visa application
  • Rent is only transferred to the landlord 24 hours after you move in
  • 10% discount with this code: UP10MYLIFEINGERMANY
Housing Anywhere
  • Trusted by 24 German universities.
  • Thousands of apartments, studios, and rooms available for rent 
  • Landlords are verified
Some other platforms:
  • SMARTments – furnished apartments in a central location
  • Wunderflats – verified rental apartments for different lifestyles
  • Tempoflat – temporary furnished apartments in many German cities

Note that renting a furnished apartment in Germany will be more expensive. However, it is relatively easy to rent one. For example, you don’t need to provide as many documents (no SCHUFA record is required). 

c. Websites for finding a shared apartment in Germany

If you don’t mind living with other people, the most economic option would be to live in a shared flat. Renting a shared flat in Germany is more casual, and most rooms are furnished. You can also make new friends by living with like-minded people.

If you want to find a shared flat in Germany, the most popular websites to use are WG-gesucht and WG-suche. I have lived in different shared flats in Germany before and I found all of them via WG-gesucht.

Just make sure that when renting a flat in Germany (especially a temporary one), you can register that address at the local authority. You will run into a lot of problems if you cannot register your address in Germany. For example, you will have problems opening a bank account in Germany and getting your German tax ID.

2. Renting through a real estate agent (Makler) in Germany

Some landlords prefer to use a real estate agent to find their tenants because it is usually easier. According to the law (Bestellerprinzip), the person who hires the real estate agent should pay for the cost. So, if your landlord is the one who hires the agent, he cannot pass the agent’s cost to you.

However, if you decide to hire a real estate agent to find a flat for you, you will have to pay for the cost. Sometimes, the cost can be very high. The maximum agent provision is 2 monthly cold rents plus 19% VAT. That is why many people prefer to search for their rental apartments through websites rather than using an agent.

3. Apply for student dormitory

If you study in Germany, you should try to apply for a room in the student dormitory. Search in google “Studentenwerk” plus your city name. You should apply as soon as possible to grab a room.

4. Find your rental apartment in Germany through word of mouth

I have moved many times now within Germany (8 times to be exact). And most of the time, I found my rental apartment through my network. I got referred by other students from my university, and my colleagues after I started working.

When we moved out of our rental flat, our landlord asked us if we knew anyone who might want to rent our flat. So, we put an advertisement in our company. A colleague contacted us very soon and our previous landlord just rented the apartment to her (without any further searching for other tenants).

So, you see, it is common for the landlord to ask the existing tenants to suggest their friends or colleagues to the landlord. In our case, our previous flat was not even listed on any rental platforms. So, there is no way to rent it if you don’t have the network.

Renting an apartment in a big city (or around a big city in Germany) can be very competitive. So, having your network is definitely a plus. You should tell as many people as possible that you are looking for a flat. They (or the friends of their friends) may refer you if they know that a rental apartment is available.

5. Facebook

Another way to find your rental apartment is via Facebook groups. You can join Facebook groups for expats in your German cities. Expats are moving from time to time and they are looking for someone to take over their rental apartments. Since they are expats themselves, they tend to find another expat too as the next tenant.

When searching for the Facebook groups, try the below ideas:

  • “Expats” in “Your German city”, e.g. Expats in Berlin
  • “Your nationality” in “Your German city”, e.g. American in Berlin 
  • “Room/ Apartment/ rental/ accommodation/ flat/ housing/ WG/ Zimmer/ Wohnung” in “Your German city”, e.g. Apartment in Munich

Besides searching in English, try to also  search in your native language.

6. Other forums

I found one of my temporary apartments from a forum called Kaiyuen. It is a big Chinese forum, specially dedicated to Chinese people who live in Germany. The forum has different sections including accommodation, networking, buy and sell, etc. 

I am sure this kind of forum exists in other languages too. In general, it is easier to find an apartment in such a forum because people from the same nationality tend to help each other out. So, you can try to find out if such a forum exists in your mother language and look for an apartment there.

Another very useful platform in Germany is eBay Kleinanzeigen. I use it all the time, especially for buying and selling second-hand products. You can click the “Immobilien” section in eBay Kleinanzeigen and choose “Mietwohnungen”. Enter your German city and you will then find many offers of rental apartments.

Be aware of scams

Before I moved to Germany, I tried to find a rental property when I was still in Hong Kong. I sent out a lot of applications but I barely got any responses. Once in a while, I got these offers which are “too good to be true”: a nice flat in an excellent location with reasonable rent.

These offers normally came to my email with a very long message, describing the flats and showing a lot of nice pictures. But they all had one thing in common: the landlord was not in Germany for whatever reason, and I had to pay a deposit upfront before visiting the flats. They claimed that after receiving my deposit, they would post me the key. 

The first time I received such emails, I already found them very weird. I barely got any reply from all of my applications. But these emails seem to be very eager to have me as their tenant, even without having any video interview with me. Their long emails looked very standard and they did not really provide much personalized reply.

So, I ignored them. It was only later I found out that such emails were popular scams. Unfortunately, people are so desperate to find their rental apartments in Germany and some may fall for these scams. And these scams are very common, especially in the big cities where there is a lot of housing demand.

So, be careful when you are looking for your rental property in Germany online. Use only trusted platforms. And visit the flats and meet the landlord in person when possible.

Renting in Germany – Rental contract (Mietvertrag)

Different types of rental contracts in Germany

No matter which types of property you are renting in Germany, the rental contract usually follows a standard format. So, you may see terms in your contract that do not apply to your case. Before signing your rental contract, make sure to check it and understand what you are signing. 

There are 2 types of rental contracts in Germany:

Unlimited rental contract (unbefristet)

There is no end date in the rental contract. You can end your contract by giving notice beforehand. Your landlord cannot end the contract easily unless he has a valid reason such as moving into the flat himself.

Fixed-term rental contract (befristet)

The rental contract states the start and end dates. This is commonly used by students. For example, a student plans to study a semester abroad and thus sublets his flat to another student for 6 months.

Renting in Germany – What is included in the rental contract?

After finding your dream apartment, the next step would be to sign a rental contract. Make sure to review the rental contract before signing. Your rental contract will likely be in German. So, if you are not sure, ask a German person to have a look.

In general, the below elements should be included in a rental contract in Germany.

1. Address and description of the rental property

2. Name and address of the landlord

3. Start and end dates

This only applied to temporary rental apartments. For example, a student sublet his room in a shared flat to me while he was studying a semester abroad. He planned to move back to his room when he finished the semester. In that case, there were start and end dates in my rental contract. 

4. Deposit 

Your rental contract should state how many monthly rents you should pay as a deposit. You can get back this deposit when you move out of the flat and return the flat to its original state. The maximum deposit is three monthly cold rents.

Since the deposit can be quite a big sum of money, you have the right to pay it over three months along with your rent.

5. Monthly rent

Your rental contract should state the cold rent you have to pay per month. The cold rent does not include your utility costs.

6. Utility costs

Your cold rent plus utility costs are your total monthly cost (warm rent). Your rental contract should state the estimated utility costs. The costs vary depending on how much you actually use the utilities. You will get a bill reflecting your actual usage in the following year. 

If you use more utilities than the estimate, you will have to pay back the difference. On the other hand, if you use less, you may get a refund.

7. Stepped rent (Staffelmiete)

Some rental contracts included a stepped rent, stating how the rent will increase in the future. It is good to know that the landlords are not allowed to increase your rent by more than 15 – 20% over three years in general. 

8. The notice period 

If nothing is specified in your rental contract, you can end your contract with a notice period of 3 months. As mentioned before, your landlord can end your rental contract if he wants to use the flat by himself. In that case, a different notice period applies to your landlord depending on how long you have been living in the flat.

If you live in the flat for up to 5 years, your landlord will need to give you a notice period of 3 months. The notice period increase to 6 months if you live in the flat for up to 8 years. After 8 years, your landlord needs to inform you 9 months ahead.

Note that the landlord can terminate your contract without notice if you violate the rental contract, e.g. failing to pay rent or illegal subletting.

9. The number of keys

It is very important to count if you have really received all the keys stated in the contract. Losing a key can be very expensive (it sometimes costs thousands of Euros!).

10. Inventory list

If you rent a furnished apartment, you should find an inventory list in the contract, stating all the furniture and appliances in the flat and their condition.

An official property inspection should be done between you, your landlord, and the previous tenant. During this inspection, you should check the conditions of the rental apartment. An official document called “Übergabeprotokoll” will document all the findings during the inspection. 

You should also take all the gas and electricity meter readings. This is to ensure that you will be paying the correct usage. Remember to make pictures that can be used as proof of the apartment condition in case there is a conflict in the future.

11. Payment method

Your rental contract should state the preferred payment method for the rent and the details of your landlord’s bank account. The best is to set up a monthly standing order so that you won’t forget to transfer the rent.

Read also: Opening a Bank Account in Germany – Compare English Banking Options

12. House rules

The house rules state the duties you have in the flat as a tenant. This can include how you handle the house and trash separation. Rules may also be made about smoking, subletting, and if you are allowed to make any structural changes or redecoration in the flat.

Besides, not every rental flat allows pets. If you are planning to get a pet, make sure to check the rules in your rental contract and consult your landlord beforehand.

13. Duties of the landlord

The rental contract should state what kind of maintenance and repairs is responsible for by the landlord.

Check your rental contract

Even if you speak German, a rental contract can be too long or too complicated to understand. It is important to understand the terms in your rental contract to avoid any bad surprises in the future, e.g. a stepped rent.

Besides, some of the things such as the notice period and required renovation may not be included in the contract. It is because those things are covered by the law and will still be valid even if they are not written in the contract. If you are not familiar with renting in Germany, this can get quite confusing.

That is why it can be beneficial to ask a legal adviser to proofread your rental contract before signing it. You can use the online consulting platform yourXpert to help to check your rental contract. Simply upload the contract and ask your question in English. An English-speaking lawyer will reply within a day.

Termination of the rental contract

The good news is that German law is in favor of the tenant. Even though the landlord has the right to evict a tenant who does not pay rent after 2 months, the eviction process is very slow and can take many months in some cases.

Besides, your landlord is not allowed to terminate your rental contract without a valid reason. Typically, your landlord can only do so if he wants to live in the flat himself. Even if he sells the flat, you can still rent the flat continuously, but just with a new landlord.

However, if you violate the terms of the rental contract, your landlord can end the contract. Common violation includes failure to pay rent, illegal subletting, or having a pet without the permission of the landlord.

If your landlord is trying to kick you out illegally, you should seek legal help. That is why it is important to have legal insurance in Germany. Without it, you may not be able to afford to consult an expensive lawyer. You may have no choice but to accept an unreasonable request by your landlord.  See more details here: Legal Insurance Germany – English Guide (+ 3 Best Offers)

We recommend using GetSafe legal insurance because it offers English support and requires no paperwork. You can get a 15 EUR discount by using this special link.

Legal - 15 EUR Rabatt

This website provides a free initial assessment by qualified lawyers on your situation. Simply write your question below. The initial assessment or recommendation is free of charge. If you decide to take further actions, you will get a non-binding offer with the price and you can decide if you want to proceed or not.

 

Top 27 tips on renting in Germany

Finding your dream rental apartment in Germany

1. Keep a record of your search

It is common that you will be applying for many rental apartments during your flat hunting process. I would suggest you keep a record of your search, e.g. by creating a spreadsheet.

You can record some basic information about the apartments you have applied for. For example, the cold rent, the warm rent, the address, the size, the link to the listing, the broker name, and the viewing date and time. Note down also if you get a rejection or if you are still waiting for a reply. 

This will make it easier for you to follow up and make sure that you don’t get lost in the process. Once you get a reply, you can also figure out easily who that is and which apartment it is referring to.

2. Be fast

Due to the strict rental law, it is difficult for the landlord to evict a tenant in Germany. That is why landlords are very picky when choosing their tenants. My friend was subletting one of the rooms in his flat close to Munich. After putting the advertisement online for an hour, he already got around 50 emails. He had to immediately deactivate his advertisement to avoid more emails coming in.

It sounds crazy but it is the reality. The demand for rental properties is high and the supply is not catching up, especially in the big cities. It means that you have to be very fast if you want to get a rental apartment successfully.

One way to do it is to set up a notification on the online platforms so that you will know once a new advertisement is up. Call (instead of write) the listing owner immediately when you see a new advertisement. That was what I did back then. Since I was one of the first persons who contacted the landlord, I was invited to a private viewing shortly and got offered the rental apartment in the end.

3. You have a better chance with a one-on-one viewing

I was once invited to an apartment viewing, which I thought was a private appointment. The landlord was 15 minutes late and I found myself standing in front of the house with 20 other people. It turned out to be a public viewing. There were so many people looking around the house and it was hard to get a chance to even talk to the landlord. 

I saw that the father of one of the applicants was talking to the landlord almost the whole time. He was German, older, and probably financially stable. Being a student without a stable income myself, the chance of me renting that apartment in Germany was closed to zero.

After that experience, I was not that keen on going to public viewing. The chance of renting an apartment in Germany is much higher if you have a one-on-one viewing appointment, instead of a public one. It is because you will have much more time to talk to the landlord and make a good impression.

4. Have all your documents on hand

As mentioned before, here are some common documents you would need when searching for a rental apartment in Germany. Even though the landlord may not require all the documents, I would recommend having them ready. Save all the documents in one PDF so that you can attach them to each online application. Bring them with you in case you are invited to the viewing.

5. Make a good impression

Germans are punctual. So, if you are lucky enough to go to a viewing, arrive there on time. Similar to a job interview, you should dress properly, be polite and confident, and bring all the necessary documents with you. Think about how you can sell yourself as a good tenant.

Besides, try not to bring your pets with you. Many landlords do not accept tenants with pets. So, bringing your pets may reduce your chance of getting a rental property. If you get along with the landlord, you can mention your pets later on.

Read also: Pets In Germany – Moving With Your Pets Or Adopting One Locally

6. Prepare a message template

When searching for a rental apartment, you should prepare a message template both in German and in English. You can save time by using this template when applying for rental properties online. The message should include some basic info about yourself such as your name, age, job, and income. You can also mention your interest/ hobbies and how much time you will spend at home.

Don’t forget to tailor-make your message according to the listing details and also address the listing owners with their names.

7. Try to speak German

Even if you cannot speak good German, it is still good to write your message in German and speak it during the viewing. Many landlords are German and prefer to rent their apartments to other German people. If you really cannot have a conversation in German, try to ask the landlord in German if he is fine with you speaking English.

Besides, you should indicate that you are learning German. It really makes a difference if he sees that you are making an effort to learn and speak German. If possible, you can also ask a friend who can speak German to go with you.

In case you are trying to learn German, I would suggest joining the Lingoda German classes. You can take online classes with qualified native German teachers at any time from anywhere in the world. You can book classes 24/7. The only thing you need is your computer and a stable internet connection. I write about it here: Lingoda Review – My Honest German Learning Experience

You can try Lingoda out for free with a 7-day trial with no risks. Don’t forget to use my code “lifeingermany” to get a 30% off if you decide to join the classes!

Lingoda banner_Renting in Germany_renting an apartment in Germany

For some other fun ways to learn German, check out these posts:

8. Know who are you dealing with

When reaching out to the listing owners, you should read the listing carefully and understand who you are talking to. Sometimes, the listing owner is the landlord. But that is not always the case. Some landlords ask their tenants who are planning to move out to look for new tenants. If that is the case, you may be talking to the previous tenant.

Sometimes, a landlord outsources the task to a property management company (Hausverwaltung) or a real estate agent. They will then be responsible for selecting the tenants. 

In some other cases, a tenant wants to sublet one of the rooms in the rental apartment. This is quite common, especially for shared apartments. You will be talking to the main tenant in this case.

Just read the listing carefully and know who you are talking to before reaching out to them.

9. Understand the floor numbers

The apartment floor number in Germany may not be the same as in your home country. The floor on the ground is called the ground floor (not the first floor!). The floor above the ground floor is called the first floor. And then the second floor. And the top floor is just under the roof.

Many apartments come with a small storage room underground which is called the basement. If you live in a house, the basement is the floor below the ground floor.

floor number in Germany_renting in Germany_ultimate guide to finding your rental apartment in germany2

10. Don’t give up

During your search, you may feel very frustrated and maybe also emotional when you do not get any positive feedback. It is normal to take months to find your apartment. If possible, start your search early. 

The housing shortage is popular, especially in the big cities. Try to look for something outside the city if it is possible. Be persistent and don’t take it personally. Landlords receive many, many applications and they may not respond to all of them. Don’t give up and you are going to find something.

Moving into your rental apartment in Germany

11. Ask for help or use a moving company

Moving is a lot of work and very stressful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If possible, ask a few friends to help you on your moving day. If that is not possible, use a moving company. 

The easiest way to ensure you get the best deal and service is to get free moving quotes. Just fill in the below form from Sirelo to save time and money when choosing a moving company. 

You will get quotes from up to five moving companies that are internationally recognized. It is free, non-obligatory, and takes you less than two minutes to complete. 

You can then compare the prices and services easily, and choose the quote that best suits you.

12. Check the condition and take pictures of your rental apartment in Germany

You should take pictures everywhere in the rental apartment, especially if there is any existing damage. This is to protect yourself in case of conflict in the future.

13. Use a mail forwarding service

In Germany, the Deutsche Post offers a post-forward service. When you use this service, Deutsche Post will direct all your posts people send to your old address to your new address. This makes sure you will not miss any posts due to your move. You can use this post-forwarding service for up to 24 months.

For more about post-service in Germany, check this out: Post and Mail – How to send a letter or parcel in Germany? (With Examples)

14. Register your address

Once moved into your new apartment, don’t forget to register your new address at the local authority (Bürgeramt or Einwohnermeldeamt). You will need to take your identity document and your rental contract with you. You should register your address within two weeks after moving in.

15. Put your last name on the doorbell and letterbox 

In Germany, your address may only include your street number. It means that everyone who lives in your building can have the same address (there is no room number for each household). The postmen deliver the posts based on the last names. So, letters or parcels cannot be delivered to you and will be returned if you do not put your last time on your letterbox and at your doorbell. 

16. Get an internet contract

Unless you are living in a shared flat, you will likely need to take care of your internet contract by yourself. Once you know your moving day, you should arrange an internet contract as soon as possible. Depending on the types of internet connection, it may take many weeks until your internet connection is set up.

For more details, check this out: Best Internet Providers in Germany – Top 4 Comparison

17. Find an electricity provider

Depending on your rental contract, you will probably need to find an electricity provider when you move into your rental apartment. If you forget to sign an electricity contract, you will still have electricity at your new place. However, this is normally more expensive. We save more than a hundred euros in a year by finding our own electricity provider.

For more details, check this out: Electricity in Germany – How to Save Money and Find the Best Provider

18. Get home insurance

This insurance covers your household content in case they are damaged (e.g. by water, fire, storms, theft, etc.). You can also insure your bicycle with this insurance. It makes sense to get this insurance if you cannot afford to buy your valuables at home again in case they are lost or damaged.

We recommend using Getsafe for home insurance as it is paperless, cancelable anytime, and in English. You can get 3 months for free now by using this special link.

Hausrat - 15 EUR Rabatt_renting in Germany_renting an apartment in Germany

For more details, check this out: Home Contents Insurance Germany – Top 5 Comparison

Living in your rental apartment in Germany

19. Avoid loud noises

In Germany, Sunday and public holidays mean quiet days (Ruhetag). There is also something called quiet time (Ruhezeit) which goes from 10 pm to 6 or 7 am every day. And the afternoon quiet time (Mittagsruhe) is from 12 or 1 pm until 3 pm every day. 

During quiet time, you are supposed to remain quiet. For example, you should not mow your lawn with a mower or drill any holes at home.

Respect the quiet rule to avoid getting into trouble. Otherwise, you may receive complaints from your neighbors. They may even report you to the public order office (Ordnungsamt).

20. Separate your trash

German people take this seriously. When my friend just moved to Germany, she threw her rubbish randomly into the bins because she didn’t know how to do it. She got scolded by a stranger walking by. 

It is your responsibility to separate your trash. This may also be stated in your rental contract. Make sure you are doing it correctly.

21. Do your laundry in the right way

Depending on your rental apartment, you may not be allowed to hang your laundry to dry at home. This is to avoid moisture building at home. Many buildings in Germany have a designated area for laundry drying (normally a room in the basement). You are supposed to hang your clothes there instead of doing it at home. And your home insurance will protect your clothes there against theft. 

Besides, depending on your neighbors, there may be complaints if you hang your clothes outside. Or you may even receive complaints if you hang your underwear!

Check out this post for more details: Laundry in Germany – How to Dry Clothes Fast?

22. Park your car or bicycle in the right place

Park your car or bicycle only at the designated area. Otherwise, you may receive complaints from your neighbors that your vehicle is blocking the way, or it is destroying the beautiful view in the surroundings.

23. Ask your landlord before getting a pet

Not all landlords allow pets. Make sure to get permission before getting your pet.

24. Inform your landlord in case of extended absence

A friend of mine travels a lot. She once traveled for 2-3 months in a row. Luckily, she informed her landlord beforehand. Her landlord told her that there was a plan to have a big cleaning in the shared garage in the following month. She cleaned up her stuff in the garage before her travel so that her belongings did not disturb the cleaning plan.

25. Inform your landlord in case of any damage 

If something is destroyed in your apartment, you should inform your landlord timely. Depending on what the damage is, your landlord may be responsible for the repairs. 

For example, a few years ago, our guest toilet broke in our rental apartment. Our landlord hired someone to fix the toilet. However, the repair took a few months. We were not able to use the toilet for months and we demanded a rent reduction during that time.

If you damage something in the rental apartment, you should also inform your landlord. You or your liability insurance may have to pay for the damage. 

PHV - 15 EUR Rabatt_Renting in germany_Renting an apartment in Germany

26. Know your duties

Sometimes, the tenants may be responsible for cleaning the hallways. In the winter, the tenants may need to clean up the snow in front of their houses. Make sure you know your duties and fulfill them.

27. Conflict with your landlord

Unfortunately, conflict with landlords is pretty usual. Common conflicts with landlords include the return of the deposit, repair and maintenance of the rental flat, etc. Note that in Germany, there are laws regulating what a landlord is allowed or not allowed to do. If a landlord has an unreasonable request, even if it is stated in the contract, the terms won’t be valid because the landlord is not legally allowed to have such a request. 

When you are not sure if a request is legal or not, or if your landlord is not replying anymore, the best is to send your complaint to your landlord in writing. The next step would be to consult a lawyer or the local tenants’ association.

Many German cities have a local tenant association (Mietverein). It costs a small fee to be a member of the association. As a member, you can enjoy different services including legal advice and negotiation with your landlord. 

As mentioned before, it is important to have legal insurance in Germany. This insurance does not only cover the legal costs if you have a dispute with your landlord or neighbor, but it also covers other legal costs such as disputes with your employer, tax authorities, and more.

We recommend using GetSafe legal insurance because it offers English support and requires no paperwork. You can get a 15 EUR discount by using this special link.

Having legal insurance in Germany protects your right and you can seek the justice you deserve without worrying about money. Say no to any unreasonable requests from your landlord!

Legal - 15 EUR Rabatt

Renting in Germany – Some useful German vocabulary

I have summarized some German words and abbreviations that would be helpful to know when you are searching for a rental apartment in Germany.

Renting in Germany – People or organization

German

English

Mieter

Tenant

Vermieter

Landlord

Nachmieter

The next tenant

Makler

Real estate agent

Bürgen

Guarantor

Hausverwaltung

Property management company

Mietverein

Tenant association

Renting in Germany – Documents

German

English

Einkommensnachweis

Proof of income

Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung 

A document by your previous landlord to prove that you always pay rent on time

Mietvertrag

The rental contract

unbefristeter Mietvertrag

Unlimited rental contract

befristeter Mietvertrag

Fixed-term rental contract

SCHUFA

Credit record in Germany

Mieterselbstauskunft

Renter application form

Renting in Germany – Types of housing

German

English

Mehrfamilienhaus (MFH)

A building with multiple apartments

Wohngemeinschaft (WG)

Shared flat

Altbau (AB)

Old building

Neubau

New building

Wohnung (Whg)

Apartment

Mietwohnungen

Rental apartment

Baujahr (BJ)

Year built

Inside the rental apartment in Germany

German

English

Schlafzimmer (SZ)

Bedroom

Wohnzimmer (WZ)

Living room

Bad

Bathroom

Toilette (WC)

Toilet

Dusche

Shower

Badewanne

Bathtub

Einbauküche  (EBK)

Built-in kitchen

Fußbodenheizung 

Floor heating

Gasheizung (GH)

Gas heating

Zentralheizung (ZH)

Central heating

Möbliert 

furnished

Saniert

Refurbished

renoviert

Renovated

Zimmer

Room

Wohnfläche (Wohnfl.)

Size of the apartment

Quadratmeter (Qm)

Square meters

Outside the rental apartment in Germany

German

English

Balkon (BK)

Balcony

Terrasse

Terrace

Garten

Garden

Keller

Basement (A small storage room downstairs unless you live in a house)

Erdgeschoss (EG)

Ground floor

Dachgeschoss

Top floor

Aufzug

Elevator

Renting in Germany – Costs and money

German

English

Kaution (KT)

Deposit

Kaltmiete (KM)

Cold rent without utility costs

Warmmiete (WM)

Warm rent (Total monthly price)

Nebenkosten (NK)

Utilities costs

Staffelmiete

Stepped rent

Renting in Germany – Other useful vocabularies

German

English

Untervermietung

Subletting

Anmeldung

Registration of your address

mieten

To rent

kaufen

To buy

Erstbezug (EB)

First occupancy after construction

 

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Are you renting your apartment in Germany? How is your apartment hunting process? Leave a comment below and share your experience!

Moving to Germany or new in Germany? Check out our Resources Page for all the help you need!

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