Understand your rights as a tenant with this guide to the German rental market, including tips on where to look for houses and apartments for rent in Germany.
Moving to a new country can be a challenging experience, especially when finding the right place to live. In this guide, we take a look at how the renting process works in Germany.
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While most countries swing strongly in favor of either renting or buying your home, the options are balanced in Germany; just under half the population renting their accommodation. More than half of the population live in apartments, making detached family houses somewhat harder to find, particularly in urban areas.
Living in Munichcan be expensive; the city has the highest rents. A 2017 study by the Hans Bockler Foundation found that Bonn was the city where renters spent the largest proportion of their salaries on housing costs, at 30.3%.
House prices and rents have risen dramatically in Germany in the last decade. That trend shows no sign of abating. In 2017, rents on new contracts rose by 4.5%, slightly down on the 4.9% recorded in 2016.
There are no restrictions for expats looking to purchase a property, making it an attractive investment for many expats planning on staying three years or more i.e. long enough to outweigh the purchase costs. Find out more in Expaticas guide tobuying a home in Germany.
Data from Statista based on the last quarter of 2017 shows that Munich, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Ingolstadt, Freiburg, Berlin, and Hamburg were the German cities with the highest rental costs per square meter.
You dont usually have to pay estate agent (Makler) fees when searching an apartment to rent in Germany, as these are the burden of the person letting out the flat.
If you want to pay an agent to help you find a home, this can alleviate some of the pressure of searching for a property yourself but at a price.
As in many countries, online property portals are an increasingly popular way to find homes in Germany. Many of these sites are only available in German, however, these can often be translated using Google. Some of the most popular housing portals in Germany include:
If youre looking for a bargain, a flatshare (Wohngemeinschaft) is usually cheaper than living alone.
Flatsharesare often informal. Flatseekers can find them through flat-sharing websites as well as forums and message boards. If youre considering an informal flatshare, its important to remember that without a contract, youll find it harder to invoke your rights as a tenant.
Sub-letting is legal in Germany and can be an option for temporary accommodation.
Good places to find sublets are usually among your network of friends and acquaintances and on the internal message boards of large organizations. Several online portalsallow you to search for furnished apartments and flatshares.
Tempoflat.deis an online portal for furnished lodgings for short- and mid-term rental
Zeitwohnwerkis a national network of local agencies providing furnished accommodation in Germany.
Descriptions of properties to rent in Germany
Properties advertised in Germany usually state their size in square meters of living space (Wohnfläche), as well as indicating the number of bedrooms (Schlafzimmer) and bathrooms (Badezimmer). In addition, some sites list the total number of rooms (which typically doesnt include bathrooms), the energy rating, and the year of construction.
Many German properties are let unfurnished, often without curtains, light fittings, and kitchen appliances.
A renovated apartment. Many unfurnished apartments in Germany arent just missing furniture; theyre also missing appliances, fittings, and even floors.
Apartments may be in divided former family homes, such as farms or townhouses, but purpose-built apartment blocks and tower blocks are also common. A split townhouse may be called aMehrfamilienhaus, whileAppartementhauserorWohnblockis more common for purpose-built apartments, although the terms are somewhat interchangeable.
AWohnsilois a somewhat derogatory term for a tower block. These are apartment buildings with dozens or hundreds of units spread over eight or more floors.
The Germany property market is competitive, so its important to get all your documentation in order. You should expect to submit:
An application form, usually handed out at the viewing;
Copies of your photo ID and residence permit (if you require one);
), typically wage slips for the last three months;
A certificate from your previous landlord indicating you have no outstanding rent due (
Your credit report (you can order this online throughSchufa).
If you dont have one of these documents, indicate the reasons for this on your application.
You may be able to increase your chances of success in a competitive market by including a letter from your employer (in lieu of proof of income) or asking a friend or relative to act as a guarantor (if you have no reliable income, e.g., as a student).
Minimum tenancies can be lengthy in Germany. Its not uncommon for a landlord to request an initial lease period of two years.
Make sure the lease agreement includes all the relevant details. You should understand the conditions for breaking the agreement before the end of the initial contract period.
Most tenancies are unlimited. This means that once the tenancy has begun, the landlord can only end it by evicting the tenant through the courts or giving at least three months notice. The tenant can contest this notice. It is usually only possible where the landlord has a good reason for the notice. Likewise, rent increases require justification, unless they follow a course in the tenancy agreement.
Limited contracts exist where the landlord has a good reason for being unable to continue renting the property after a certain period, such as a need to use it themselves or planning to sell. Extensions or renewals are rare.
In both cases, the tenant can give notice according to their contract. A three-month notice period is typical after the initial contract period.
How much youll get for your money varies significantly depending on where youre living in Germany, and in each city, you can easily double or triple the estimated minimums by looking for a central location or a larger, family property.
Rooms are typically on the smaller side, with two-bedroom apartments under 65 square meters being common.
Average rents in Germany are typically described as a cost per square meter.
According to the Federal Institute for Building, Urban and Spatial Research, the apartments in Germany are rented out for an average of €8 a square meter, with prices ranging from around €4 per square meter (Wunsiedel/Vogtlandkreis) to €10 (Berlin) to €16 (Munich).
Thanks to heavy international investment plus an economy that weathered the financial crisis relatively well, Germanys properties are in demand. Rents are rising across the board. As legislation restricts rental increases for existing tenants, prices are often increased dramatically when a new lease is arranged.
This means that even if you take over a lease from a friend or rent an identical unit in the same building, the rent for the new lease may be much higher. In 2015, rent control laws (Mietpreisbremse)were introduced, but a report by the German Institute for Economic Research in 2018 found that they had only had an effect on a tiny proportion of tenants.
A deposit (Kaution) is common, generally equal to three months rent. It should not be more than this amount, and must be deposited in a special savings account.
Utility costs are not typically part of the rent, however. This should be laid out in the tenancy agreement. The property is typically described asKaltmiete, literally the cold rent, i.e. without heating or utilities. AWarmmietewill include heating and possibly the other costs (Nebenkosten) such as management fees and other utilities.
An inventory and inspection should be completed when you move in and out, accurately describing the contents of the property and the condition. Tenants are typically allowed to decorate, including painting walls. However, tenants must return the property to a neutral state (usually white walls) and remove any added items (such as carpets or curtains) before moving out.
Germany law is broadly in favor of the tenant. If you have any concerns, you can contact the national tenants association, theDeutscher Mieterbund(German only), or find your local tenants association (German only) called aMieterverbände.
A landlord has the right to evict a tenant for not paying their rent after two months. However, the eviction process is slow, taking more than six months in some cases.
Dramatically increasing rents in popular urban areas mean that some landlords and developers have a strong interest in changing tenants so they can then increase the rent. This led to some unscrupulous tactics, including failure to properly maintain the building. Legal methods are also possible, including paying tenants to leave.
Some cities, including Berlin, have strict limits on the amount that rent can be increased over a given period so if you find yourself facing a sudden rent increase after youve already signed a tenancy agreement, its important to seek advice. Generally, rental increases should happen at most once per year and up to a maximum of 20% over three years.
Short-term rentals for expats in Germany
2½ Room Apartment In Hamburg Ottensen, Furnished, Temporary
3 Room Apartment In Wiesloch, Furnished, Temporary
4 Room House In Dreieich, Furnished, Temporary
2 Room Attic Apartment (penthouse) In Berlin Pankow, Furnished
Childrens healthcare in Germany
Sexual and reproductive health in Germany
Coronavirus in Germany: where to get COVID-19 information and support
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