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Renting In Germany [House Rules]

Expatrio 2024-02-19
Deutsches Wohnzimmer mit Couchtisch und Sofa


You're finally in Germany!

After years of planning and saving, you've arrived in the country ready to take on the rental market. You spend hours online searching for the perfect apartment, but nothing seems to fit your needs.

You find one that's a little out of your price range, but you decide to go for it anyway. The landlord seems nice, so you sign the lease and move in. But soon after moving in, you realize that your rent is much higher than what you had budgeted for, and unexpected fees pop up left and right. You start to feel stressed out and overwhelmed by this situation.

One of the biggest challenges when renting an apartment in Germany is finding a place that feels like home.

Whether you're moving to Germany for work or school or just looking for a change of scenery, there are certain things to consider when searching for your new living space. First and foremost, be prepared to spend some time online researching different options and reading reviews from previous tenants.

Person unterschreibt Mietvertrag

Websites like Immonet and Immowelt can help guide your search and make it easier to find the perfect place at a price that fits within your budget. [Check out our guide to find your ideal place]

When you've finally found a place you're interested in, ask the landlord about any additional fees that may not be listed in the advertisement. This includes things like utilities, internet, and parking. In some cases, these costs can add up to hundreds of euros per month, so it's important to factor them into your overall budget.

Ready to start your search? Check out some vital aspects before renting your place in Germany.

Ten things to know before renting an apartment in Germany

1. The German rental market is competitive, so be prepared to search for the perfect place. There is no statutory minimum rental contract in Germany, which means that landlords are not required to offer a minimum lease term.
However, it's essential to remember that most landlords will need a minimum lease term of 6 or 12 months. If you're looking for a shorter-term rental agreement, it's best to inquire with the landlord about their policy before signing the lease.

2. In addition to a competitive rental market, housing in Germany are also subject to a "cold rent" (Kaltmiete) and a "warm rent" (Warmmiete). The "cold rent" is the base price of the apartment and the "warm rent" is the total monthly rent which includes the cost of utilities and other fees (Nebenkosten).
The Warmmiete is the closest to the total price of the rent, as it may also include internet, laundry services, and housekeeping. However, before signing the lease, make sure to know what comprises the fees, so you don’t have any surprises at the end of the month.

3. Before signing a lease, it's essential to ask your landlord about any house rules or rental laws specific to Germany. For instance, in many cases, landlords may expect tenants to pay rent on time each month, or they may charge an extra fee for late payments. Additionally, house rules may vary from place to place, so it's important to inquire about quiet hours, guest policies, and pet regulations before signing the lease.


If you have any problems with the property, such as faults (mold/defects), renovations, or any nuisances created by neighboring constructions, you have an option to get in touch with the property management (Hausverwaltung). If there are genuine concerns, you may receive a rent reduction.


4. When renting an apartment in Germany, it's important to be aware of the notice period required by law. In most cases, landlords must give tenants at least three months' notice before terminating the lease agreement. If you need to move out before the end of the lease, it's essential to speak with the landlord about your options. In some cases, you may be able to find a replacement tenant to take over your lease, or the landlord may agree to break the lease early with minimal penalties.


If you cannot continue your lease, or would like to take a break from apartment life, subletting may be an option for you in Germany. Be aware of house rules and rental laws in your region and the process of subletting, and any associated costs. Some things to consider when subletting include finding a trustworthy tenant, negotiating the lease terms, and ensuring that you have your landlord's permission. Additionally, it is crucial to be aware of the potential risks involved in subletting.


5. Rental laws in Germany also dictate that tenants have a right to privacy and quiet enjoyment of their home. This means that landlords cannot enter your apartment without prior notice or permission, except in emergencies. Additionally, landlords are not allowed to change your apartment without your consent. They must provide you with a written contract that outlines your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.


We suggest you join the tenants' law association in your region so they can assist you with any rental concerns or legal advice with your landlord. The membership fee varies depending on the location. To know more, head to their website for membership information for your area by searching tenants' associations with your region.


6. In Germany, it's also important to be aware of the "Mietkaution". This term refers to the deposit that landlords often require when signing a lease. While there is no set maximum amount for a deposit, it's typically around three months' cold rent and must be paid in full when signing the lease.

In many cases, the landlord will return your deposit if you leave behind no damage to the property, but they may also deduct costs for cleaning or repair if necessary.


If the deposit is prohibitively large, you may ask to pay it in three payments and your rent. You may also pay the deposit through Mieteval if you are eligible, guaranteeing your payment on your behalf for a small fee. Examples of rental guarantees you may consider include AXA and R+V in Germany.


7. If you're renting an apartment in Germany, it's essential to have liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung). This type of insurance will protect you from unexpected events that could leave you liable for property damage or legal fees. The insurance cost is reasonable, starting at around €5 per month. Some examples of house liability insurance may be found on our Insurances page.

8. Many apartments in Germany come with no kitchen. If your apartment has no kitchen, be sure to ask about the availability of a kitchen before signing the lease. You can pay an additional charge over and above your rent to construct the kitchen in most situations.

9. When renting an apartment in Germany, it's important to understand the square footage. In most cases, apartments range from around 50-100 square meters for larger apartments. The size of the studio or single apartments ranges from 17 to 25 square meters, allowing only one person to stay in the unit.

10. Landlords in Germany may use a tenant's credit score, known as the Schufa score, to decide whether or not to rent an individual. As such, renters need to be aware of their credit score and take steps to improve it if necessary. Additionally, landlords may require a guarantor for the rental agreement, which is typically a family member or close friend who agrees to be responsible for paying the rent if the tenant is unable to do so.


Lastly, before moving into your new apartment in Germany, it's essential to ensure that you have all the necessary documents and information on hand. In most cases, this will include a signed lease agreement, proof of renters' insurance, a copy of your passport or ID card, and bank statements showing your ability to pay rent each month.

Overall, it's crucial to stay organized and plan when renting an apartment in Germany. By doing your research and connecting with fellow ex-pats, you can find a place that feels like home, no matter how long-term or short-term your stay is.

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