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Best tips for renting an apartment in Germany

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From finding the right apartment, to the lease up to the utility bill – tenants in Germany need to consider a lot. Find out here what rights and obligations you have and the best tips for renting in Germany.

Why would you need to move while in Germany? Kids, a new job in another city or the first apartment of your own after Hotel Mama – there can be many reasons for moving. And as different as the reasons are, the demands on a new home are just as different. Before actually looking for an apartment, you should think carefully about how many rooms and how much space tenants need. That’s why you need the best tips for renting.

But other aspects such as the location, the size and the question of whether you can even afford the apartment of your choice also play a role. It explains step by step how tenants can find the ideal apartment for themselves. There are also legal tips for the central questions about the rental agreement, deposit, cosmetic repairs – and disputes with the landlord. Below is a look at the best tips for renting in Germany.

Best tips for renting an apartment in Germany made easy: This is how tenants can find the right apartment

Do you need a lot of storage space for your collectibles and keepsakes or does your beloved couch have to find space in your new apartment? Of course, the apartment should also meet personal comfort requirements. If, for example, they should have a balcony, tenants can indicate this directly when looking for an apartment.

The first apartment in Germany is something very special for most people. However, most young people have to convince real estate agents or landlords when viewing the apartment. In cities in particular, there is a long line of prospective buyers in front of some of the rental apartments on offer . It’s good to be prepared for the appointment.

1. Tips for finding accommodation

Anyone looking for an apartment faces a lot of competition. Landlords can choose from hundreds of applicants. But your chances can be improved! From preparation to viewing – these tips will help you find an apartment! Read more here.

2. Rental apartment checklist

Checklist: Tenants should consider this when looking for and moving into a new rental apartment. Read more here.

3. Convince landlords & realtors

Often, when viewing the apartment, it is decided who will be shortlisted. However, if you take these tips to heart, you can easily convince landlords and realtors alike: This is how it works – with a checklist. Read more here.

4. Your first own apartment

From looking for an apartment to moving in: A guide for tenants on the way to their own apartment. Read more here.

Best tips for renting

If there is currently no suitable apartment available, it may be worthwhile for tenants to do a free search online . If a suitable apartment offer is posted on immowelt or immobilienscout24, tenants receive an email and can apply directly to the landlord or broker.

If you want to save a lot of the search work, you can also fall back on a broker. He is looking for a suitable apartment for tenants. The advantages: The broker knows the real estate market, relieves the apartment hunter of a lot of work and is familiar with contracts and the current legal situation.

Important here: Due to the ordering principle, the tenant only has to pay a broker’s commission if he exclusively instructs the broker with the search and the apartment found does not come from the broker’s portfolio.

How much can I afford to pay for the apartment?

What tenants pay particular attention to when looking for an apartment does not only depend on the ideas of the respective tenant – but also on whether these are realistic and feasible. A rule of thumb is that tenants should not spend more than a third of their salary on rent.

However, there are sometimes big differences in rental prices even within cities: some neighborhoods are more expensive than others. With the same equipment, an apartment in Berlin-Mitte usually costs significantly more than one in Marzahn-Hellersdorf.

How much rent do you have to pay for apartments and houses in your region? Here you can find our free price statistics.

Successful apartment search: acceptance & rental agreement

Once you have found a suitable apartment, you have to wait and see. Because, of course, the landlord must also agree to his new tenant. If the acceptance comes, the joy is great – and then everything goes very quickly. The landlord presents the tenant with a rental agreement. Occasionally, however, it can happen that the new tenancy should begin very soon. Then tenants should try to come to an agreement with their previous landlord that they can quickly search for and suggest a new tenant.

1. Check the rental agreement before signing

In addition, in most cases the landlord will ask the tenant for a deposit – in case there is anything to complain about after the tenant has moved out. This may amount to a maximum of three months’ cold rent. Beware of pitfalls: check the rental agreement first, then sign it. Read more here.

2. The rental agreement

In principle, the rental agreement can be freely worded, but is usually a so-called form rental agreement. Such forms are available, for example, from owner associations, but also from normal stationery stores. However, some of them are out of date and therefore contain ineffective clauses. If you want to sign the rental agreement for the new apartment, you should read it carefully first, because you could find some invalid or disadvantageous regulations in it. Read more here.

3. Rent deposit in Germany

Renting can be expensive for Expats in Germany. Most landlords in Germany will require that you put down a rental deposit. Here you can find out what the landlord can do with this deposit – and what he should pay attention to himself. Find out more here.

4. Rent deposit guarantee

When moving into a new apartment in Germany, you will usually have to leave a rental deposit. What about a deposit guarantee? Find out more here.

Everyday tenants: interesting facts about tenancy law

Finally, the move is done, the apartment is comfortably furnished. The main thing now is to regulate the bureaucratic. Insurance companies, banks, possible magazine subscriptions – all of this has to be switched to the new address. The most important thing, however, is to re-register with the responsible registration authority within two weeks. If the tenant fails to do this, fines may be due. In addition, a certificate from the landlord is required for this – the so-called accommodation provider confirmation.

If the new home is a second home, this must also be registered as such at the local authority of the respective municipality; often a second residence tax is also due.

1. Planning your move

You are planning a move and you are wondering if you should hire a moving company? It is worth comparing the offers for for moving. Read more here.

2. Moving cheaply

Whether on your own, with a moving company or student helpers: The costs of a move in Germany depends on many factors. Find out how you can reduce the moving costs here.

3. Registration with Einwohnermeldeamt 

You just moved? Find out here why registration with the Einwohnermeldeamt is required

4. Federal Registration Act: Register and re-register correctly

When do tenants have to re-register after moving, what can happen if they miss the deadline? And what actually is a home owner certificate? These things are regulated in the Federal Registration Act. Read more here.

But tenants also ask themselves many questions during the current tenancy – for example when it comes to ancillary costs. Because in addition to the main rent, tenants also pay costs for heating and, under certain circumstances, cleaning the stairwell and the costs for running water as well as other items. However, not all costs may actually be passed on to the tenant via the utility bill.

5. Check your utility bill

Not every utility bill is correct. It is often worth taking a critical look. Tenants can check their utility bill in eight steps.

6. Apportionable incidental costs

Which expenses landlords can get back through the utility bill and which cannot: an overview of apportionable ancillary costs.

And the landlord is not always allowed to freely determine the rent itself. Because in many areas of Germany the so-called rental price brake applies. This states that the rent when re-letting an apartment must generally not be more than ten percent above the local comparative rent.

In addition, the landlord may not increase the rent at will, even during the current tenancy, but only for reasons such as an increase to the local comparative rent or after modernization. This is how tenants check whether a rent increase is permissible.

A special case: If the tenant signs a so-called graduated lease, then it is determined in advance when and in what amount future rent increases will take place. Rent increases outside of this range are then not permitted for the period of the graduated agreement.

You can find useful information about rent controls, rent levels and rent increases here:

Trouble with the apartment or the landlord: what to do?

Best tips for renting

In the current tenancy, there can always be trouble. Damage to the apartment and then an uncooperative landlord can make life as a tenant quite difficult. A tenant does not have to accept a lot of things, such as a defective heating system. If such damage occurs, tenants should report this to the landlord immediately and request that the defect be remedied. Some defects, such as noise, also justify a rent reduction.

Defects in the apartment

Does your rented apartment have issues and you are not sure who at fault? How can defects help you lower your rent? Learn how to recognize when a defect exists and how to proceed to effectively lower the rent here.

As a tenant, however, you can also help ensure that a dispute does not arise in the first place. It is advisable to adhere to the rules in the house rules and, for example, the rest periods, so as not to bother other roommates. Any regulations on stairwell cleaning or snow clearing in winter should also be observed in order to avoid disputes. But some rules in house rules can go too far: The landlord cannot tell his tenants when, for example, they are allowed to shower and when not.

House rules: tips for tenants

The house rules regulate the rights and obligations of the tenants – but not everything may actually be regulated.

Sometimes there is also a dispute when it comes to the question of garden sharing. Often the use is not clearly regulated in apartment buildings. Another point of contention is who is responsible for gardening.

Regardless of the reason: If there is stress with the landlord, tenants should always act quickly; In particular, if you want to assert claims against him, the limitation periods must be observed.

Best tips for renting

Notification of defects to the landlord

Construction site noise or a burst water pipe: If a deficiency occurs in the rented apartment, tenants should reach for a pen. We explain the notification of defects and provide a sample letter as a download.

As a tenant, however, you can also help ensure that a dispute does not arise in the first place. It is advisable to adhere to the rules in the house rules and, for example, the rest periods, so as not to bother other roommates. Any regulations on stairwell cleaning or snow clearing in winter should also be observed in order to avoid disputes. But some rules in house rules can go too far: The landlord cannot tell his tenants when, for example, they are allowed to shower and when not.

Sometimes there is also a dispute when it comes to the question of garden sharing. Often the use is not clearly regulated in apartment buildings. Another point of contention is who is responsible for gardening.

Regardless of the reason: If there is stress with the landlord, tenants should always act quickly; In particular, if you want to assert claims against him, the limitation periods must be observed.

Tenant obligations

The most important tenant obligation is to pay the rent and ancillary costs on time. However, tenants have many other obligations.

Tenant obligations on vacation

There are a few things to keep in mind when renters go on vacation, otherwise there could be a rude awakening on their return. Because tenant obligations do not make a vacation.

New job, new love, new apartment: termination and change of residence

Best tips for renting

Both a tenant may feel in his apartment: living conditions can change quickly and a move can also be necessary for unforeseen reasons. But whether it’s a new job, a new life partner or a divorce: If you want to move, you first have to terminate the old lease. It is important to adhere to certain formal provisions as well as certain deadlines.

Termination of an apartment rental agreement

What tenants have to consider when they want to give notice to terminate their apartment and what pitfalls are lurking.

Notice periods of the tenant

When terminating the rental agreement, tenants should observe the notice periods.

5 mistakes and misconceptions about moving out

When it comes to moving out of a rented apartment, there are many mistakes in tenancy law that persist. Tips on the deposit, cosmetic repairs and finding a new tenant.

If the cancellation has been successfully received by the landlord, the move-out is due after the notice period has expired. In many cases, landlords require so-called cosmetic repairs. This means: The tenant should paint the apartment before the end of the tenancy. Such clauses in rental contracts are only really effective under certain circumstances.

At the end of a tenancy, the so-called handover usually takes place. The tenant goes through the apartment together with the landlord and checks whether there is any damage that goes beyond normal wear and tear. In addition, the meter readings for gas and water are noted in it.

At the end of a tenancy, the so-called handover usually takes place. The tenant goes through the apartment together with the landlord and checks whether there is any damage that goes beyond normal wear and tear. In addition, the meter readings for gas and water are noted in it.

Apartment handover protocol

Was the damage there when you moved in, or is the tenant’s fault? A handover protocol helps to avoid trouble. This is how the handover of the apartment succeeds.

In some cases, the new tenant wants to leave certain items in the apartment, such as his fitted kitchen. Often there is a buyer with the new tenant who is already willing to pay a transfer fee. This should correspond to a realistic value – which the tenant can determine with certain calculation methods for the fee.

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Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany
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