You have finally decided to move out of the shared apartment or hostel and want to rent an apartment. Find you what you need to know about the rental agreement in Germany.
Rental Agreement in Germany: When it comes to renting in Germany, each party tries to influence the rental agreement in their favor. We have written this article so that you as a tenant can work out an advantageous rental agreement.
What exactly is a rental agreement?
The rental agreement regulates the rental of a rental property between two parties: the tenant and the landlord. The tenant is given the corresponding object for use in the rental agreement. In return, he pays the landlord an agreed rent.
Although a lot of different things can be rented – cars, furniture, etc. – in German tenancy law, the living space rental contract is particularly important.
This guide will tell you what to look out for with this “rental agreement for house and property”.
The most important thing about the rental agreement in Germany
What is agreed in the rental agreement?
The amount of the rent is agreed upon in the rental agreement. Operating costs are only to be paid by the tenant if this has been expressly agreed in the contract.
Can a lease be limited?
A fixed-term lease can only come about if the landlord can give a reason for the limitation. A sublease agreement, for example, can often be limited in time.
What should be considered when terminating a rental agreement?
Different deadlines apply to tenants and landlords for the ordinary termination of the rental agreement.
Rental agreement for living space – What tenants and landlords should consider
In Germany, the social tenancy law applies, which primarily protects the tenant of living space. It is irrelevant whether the rental contract is for a single-family house, an apartment, or another residential property.
However, tenant protection does not apply to rooms that are rented for commercial purposes.
The rights of tenants and landlords for housing are regulated in Sections §§ 549 ff. BGB (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch) adapted to the apartment or house in question. The rental agreement is usually drawn up by the landlord.
The relationship between tenant and landlord is not always conflict-free. If there is no agreement as to who has which rights and obligations towards the other, trouble is often inevitable. However, many points of contention can be settled beforehand in the rental agreement, such as cosmetic repairs, termination, or the house rules.
With the rental agreement, both parties can reach an agreement regarding the individual facts before the start of the rental relationship and read them later if necessary. The more precise and detailed a rental agreement is formulated, the less room there is for disputes.
Anyone signing a rental contract for an apartment should read it very carefully. Because although tenant protection applies in Germany, there are ways and means of formulating a rental agreement in such a way that it can quickly be to the disadvantage of the tenant.
What should be in your rental agreement?
A rental agreement should include these points in order to be as fair as possible for both parties:
What is meant here is all the important information about the landlord and tenant. If several people move into the apartment, all adult tenants should be included in the rental agreement.
The amount and type of rent
In addition to the cold rent, tenants often also have to pay the ancillary rental costs – but only if this is expressly stipulated in the rental agreement. Landlords should therefore make sure that the payment of operating costs is explicitly agreed in the rental agreement.
Both tenants and landlords should check whether the payment of the additional costs is specified in the rental agreement as a lump sum or in the form of an advance payment. Otherwise one of the two might fall into a cost trap.
Ancillary costs as a flat rate or prepayment – what’s the difference?
If the lease stipulates that the additional costs must be paid as a lump sum, the tenant pays a monthly lump sum for costs such as electricity, heating, and water. This is regardless of how much the tenant uses. It can therefore happen that he has to pay more than his consumption actually justifies.
However, because the tenant agreed to the lump sum in the rental agreement, he or she has no opportunity to object to the overpayment. However, the same also applies to the landlord if the real costs for consumption exceed the monthly flat rate.
If advance payment is agreed in the rental agreement instead, the landlord is obliged to present the tenant with a utility bill at the end of the year. With this, the incurred additional costs are compared with the payments made by the tenant.
If he has paid too much overall during the year, he will be reimbursed the excess amount. If he has paid too little, he must pay the remaining costs in the form of an additional payment.
In contrast to the lump sum, with the advance payment at the end of the year, exactly as much is paid as was used.
The rental deposit
The rental deposit is also optional and must be expressly agreed in the rental agreement. The deposit may not exceed three months’ rent.
The contract duration
It is important to determine whether the lease is open-ended or limited-term. If landlords want to set up a fixed-term rental agreement, this must comply with the provisions of § 575 BGB. Otherwise, it is invalid.
The waiver of termination
A fixed-term lease may contain a clause that the lease is non-cancellable for the entire agreed period. However, tenants should only agree to this if they can say with absolute certainty that there is no reason to move again before the contract expires.
The permitted use of the apartment
Both parties should agree on the permitted use of the apartment in the rental agreement, e.g. B. whether commercial use of the apartment is permitted or not.
If the rental agreement contains a small repair clause, the tenant is obliged to bear the costs for a small repair commissioned by the landlord. The rental agreement must specify the amount up to which the tenant must contribute per repair and per year in total. Both tenants and landlords should ensure that the clause is formulated by the specifications of the German Tenants’ Association. Otherwise, it is invalid.
If damage occurs that is not covered by the small repair clause, it must be repaired by the landlord. If he does not comply, the tenant may be able to claim a rent reduction.
Cosmetic repairs are always to be borne by the landlord. If the tenant is to take over certain work such as painting and wallpapering the apartment, the rental agreement must contain a corresponding clause. Otherwise, he can not be obliged to do so. In addition, such a clause is not always permissible. If necessary, this must be checked by an expert.
The House Rules
The house rules specify the points agreed in the rental agreement and can e.g. regulate exact rest times or the keeping of pets in the apartment.