Renting in Germany: What You Need to Know
Germany is a beautiful country with a rich culture and history. Whether you’re moving to Germany for work or study, you’ll need a place to live. Renting an apartment in Germany can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not familiar with the country’s rental market. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about renting an apartment in Germany.
Finding an apartment
The first step in renting an apartment in Germany is finding a place that suits your needs. There are several ways to find an apartment in Germany. You can use online portals such as ImmoScout24, eBay Kleinanzeigen, or WG-Gesucht.
You can also work with our relocation service – we can help you find apartments that match your requirements, as well as help you with speaking with landlords in German, translating documents, and answering your questions with filling out paperwork.
It’s also important to note that most apartments in Germany are unfurnished, so you’ll need to factor in the cost of furniture when budgeting.
*Keywords for helping you in your search
When searching for an apartment to rent in Germany, it’s helpful to be familiar with some of the German words commonly used in rental listings. Here are a few keywords you’re likely to come across:
- Wohnung – This is the German word for apartment or flat. You’ll see this word in most rental listings in Germany. You might also see some familiar words like “Loft” and “Penthouse”.
- Zimmer – This means room in German. When you are searching, remember the living room is included in this. A listing might say “3 Zimmer-Wohnung im Zentrum” – this means 2 bedrooms and 1 living area located in the city center/central where you will find plenty of shops, doctors, and restaurants. Sometimes the living area is rather big and open so you can put a desk or dining table.
- Schlafzimmer – This means bedroom in German. If you’re looking for an apartment with multiple bedrooms, you’ll want to keep an eye out for listings that mention the number of Schlafzimmers.
- Kinderzimmer – This means the room for a child. They tend to be the smallest bedroom in the apartment.
- Küche – This is the German word for kitchen. Most apartments in Germany come with a built-in kitchen, but it’s important to confirm this in the listing or during your apartment search.
- Bad – This means bathroom in German. You’ll want to make sure the apartment you’re interested in has at least one Bad.
- Balkon – This is the German word for balcony. If having a balcony is important to you, make sure to search for apartments that include this feature. You will also see Terrace which is a bigger open outdoor area connected to the apartment.
- EBK – This stands for Einbauküche, which means built-in kitchen. If you’re looking for an apartment with a built-in kitchen, you may see listings that include the abbreviation EBK. It is also important to note that not all kitchens come with a kitchen.
You may need to install your own, which can be fun because you get to customize your kitchen, but it will clearly cost you extra money. Sometimes the tenants moving out will offer to sell their kitchen to you when they move out. You can also find used kitchens on eBay Kleinanzeigen, but it can be challenging to find the right size, fit, and style.
- Garten – This one is pretty easy. It means garden in German. A garden area is a backyard or open area, sometimes with playground equipment.
- Kaution – This means security deposit in German. When renting an apartment in Germany, you’ll typically be required to pay a Kaution that’s equal to a few months’ rent. There are insurances you can purchase that will cover this for you.
Understanding the rental market
Germany has a highly regulated rental market. The government sets limits on rent increases and landlords are required to provide long-term leases. When you rent an apartment in Germany, you’ll typically sign a lease for at least one year.
This means you won’t be able to terminate the lease early without penalty – unless the landlord agrees to it. However, you can find temporary or short-term rentals while you try to find your apartment. This is not uncommon in cities like Berlin where the housing market is insane for renters to find an apartment.
When renting an apartment in Germany, you’ll need to provide several documents to the landlord or the real estate agent. This typically includes your passport or ID card, proof of income, and proof of employment. You may also need to provide a Schufa report, which is a credit report that shows your creditworthiness. If you’re self-employed, you may need to provide additional documentation, such as tax returns or business registration documents.
Paying rent and utilities
In Germany, rent is typically paid monthly in advance. You’ll also need to pay a security deposit, which is usually equivalent to three months’ rent. Most of the time, you will need to pay utilities separately, including electricity, gas, water, and internet. Some landlords may include utilities in the rent, so it’s important to clarify this before signing the lease.
*Tips to better understand extra rental fees
It’s also important to understand the different types of rent and the extra fees you may be responsible for. Here are some of the common fees you can expect to encounter:
- Kaltmiete – This is the German word for “cold rent”. It refers to the basic rent for the apartment, without any additional charges for utilities or services. If you see a listing for an apartment with Kaltmiete, you’ll need to factor in additional costs for utilities and services.
- Warmmiete – This is the German word for “warm rent”. It refers to the total rent, including additional charges for utilities and services. The Warmmiete includes the Kaltmiete as well as the Nebenkosten.
- Nebenkosten – This refers to additional costs associated with renting an apartment, such as utilities, maintenance fees, and other charges. The Nebenkosten can include costs for heating, water, trash removal, and building maintenance. This is typically charged on a monthly basis and is added to the Kaltmiete to arrive at the total Warmmiete.
- Heizkosten – This refers to the cost of heating the apartment. Depending on the apartment, the heating costs may be included in the Nebenkosten or billed separately.
- Stromkosten – This refers to the cost of electricity. In most cases, tenants are responsible for paying their own electricity bills.
- Kaution – This is the security deposit that tenants are required to pay when renting an apartment in Germany. The Kaution is usually equivalent to three months’ rent and is intended to cover any damages or outstanding bills at the end of the rental period.
It’s important to carefully review the rental agreement and ask the landlord or real estate agent about any additional fees or charges that may apply. By understanding the different types of rent and the extra fees involved, you can better budget for your rental expenses and avoid any unexpected costs.
Understanding your rights and responsibilities
As a tenant in Germany, you have certain rights and responsibilities. You have the right to a safe and habitable apartment, and the landlord is responsible for maintaining the apartment and making necessary repairs. You’re also responsible for keeping the apartment clean and reporting any damages or repairs to the landlord. If you violate the terms of your lease, the landlord may terminate the lease and ask you to vacate the apartment.
Renting an apartment in Germany can be a complex process, but with the right information and preparation, you can find a comfortable and affordable place to call home. By understanding the rental market, providing the necessary documentation, and fulfilling your responsibilities as a tenant, you can enjoy all that Germany has to offer.