Finding an Accommodation

Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt are all cosmopolitan cities with large international business communities; they are desirable places to live and the demand for accommodation is greater than the supply. The situation in Berlin, however, is not as difficult as in Frankfurt and Munich. Rents are generally higher nearer the city centres and it is worth exploring suburbs with good transport services for properties that are more moderately priced.

In the city, accommodation is usually in apartments or flats. Single-family homes can be found in the suburbs or in nearby towns. Apartments in the city are often in older buildings which have been renovated, usually to very high standards.

When you start looking for a house or a flat, it is important to understand how the Germans classify their living space. All rooms in the house other than the kitchen, hallway and bathrooms (WC being a separate toilet) are considered “rooms“. This means that if you want a home with 3 bedrooms plus a living room and a separate dining area, you will have to look for a home with 5 rooms. Both houses and flats are commonly rented unfurnished. An unfurnished home in Germany could be quite different to one in your own country. In Germany, unfurnished means that the kitchen cabinets, appliances, light fixtures, shelves or even curtains and curtain rods are not installed in the dwelling. The previous tenant may offer these items to you for a fixed price, if not, you are required to purchase them yourself. The same principal applies for homes and flats that are for sale. If you are thinking of purchasing a home you will have to ask the owners if the kitchen can be included in the price; if you just love the perennials in the garden, make sure you arrange to have them left there when you move in. Some owners take plants from their garden with them when they leave.

Furnished flats, which include kitchens as well as furniture, are also available. They are not as easy to find and can be quite expensive. There are a few organisations that list furnished flats and houses available for short periods or long term.

There are a number of ways to look for a new residence. It is generally easier to find good rental accommodation while you are already in Germany.

Real estate agencies (Immobilienmakler or Makler) operate in all major cities. Real estate agencies (Immobilienmakler or Makler) operate in all major cities. There are

also relocation agencies that will help you find a home, set up utilities and deal with many other issues concerning your move. Estate agents can be hired to look for you, and they generally work on commission. Their fee is 2-3 months rent or 3-6% (plus tax) of the sale price if you are buying. However, agencies are not entitled to charge a commission until a tenancy agreement has been signed. Although these charges may seem high, reputable real estate agents are the most effective way of securing a good rental property, especially if you are not yet in the country.

If you want to save on the expenses of an agent, most newspapers have rentals and homes for sale announced in the Saturday edition of their paper. The Internet is also a great way to find homes and flats. There are many websites to help you find what you are looking for.

Last but not least, word of mouth is still one of the best ways to find an empty flat. Ask your colleagues, friends and their families if they know anyone who is looking for a new tenant.

It's a good idea to take an inventory of any furniture and household items that are included in your lease when renting a furnished home. It is also wise to write down anything that is not quite up to standard in order to make sure you will not be responsible for its replacement when you move out again. The Germans have many laws outlining which rights a landlord has and which rights a tenant has. It is very important for you to know about these laws before you sign a lease. In most cases you are required to pay a deposit of 2 months rent to the landlord before you move in. You will receive it again when you move out. Rental payments are made monthly and consist of fixed rent plus the cost of heating, water, sewage, garbage and property care (called Nebenkosten) and will be written in your lease. These costs usually do not include electricity, telephone or Internet, which you are responsible for arranging yourself. It is important to be aware of the rules and regulations in your building; they include where to do the laundry, where to keep your bicycle, when to clean the halls and stairs, permission to barbecue on the balcony and more. Please remember to obtain written permission from your landlord if you wish to keep a pet.

To expatriates arriving from outside Europe, German apartments may seem smaller than they are accustomed to.

When viewing a property it is advisable to take identification with you and some proof of income; if several people are interested in the same property you will have to fill out an application and wait for the landlord’s decision.

Other important considerations when choosing a rental property include your possible neighbours and house rules. Certain buildings and communities have very strict regulations concerning noise levels and the use of communal space; if you have children you should make sure that your neighbours and the house rules are tolerant towards them.

Lease and Rental Conditions

Rental contracts can be for a fixed or an indefinite term. Most long term rentals (more than six months) are signed for an indefinite term with three months’ notice to terminate required from either party. If you want to terminate your lease, you should send a registered letter in compliance with the time allowance set out in the lease agreement.

You may have to pay as much as three months’ cold rent as a deposit (Kaution); this is the maximum amount permitted by the law. In order to safeguard your deposit it should be put in a special interest-bearing joint account. The deposit must be returned at the end of the lease when the property has been given back to the landlord’s satisfaction. It is advisable to include a detailed inventory and a detailed description of the condition of the premises in the lease agreement before signing it.

It is advisable to seek legal advice on the terms remises and conditions of the lease prior to completion paying special attention to additional payments and running costs (Nebenkosten) and who is responsible for covering them. Tenants are generally responsible for minor repairs and maintenance of the property, both inside and out. The landlord will be responsible for major repairs and maintenance. In any case, be sure to include each side’s obligations in the contract.

Availability & Costs

he availability and cost of rented accommodation vary considerably from city to city and depend heavily on the location within this city.

Garages are not usually included in rental fees.

Fidelio Main Office: +49 69 40 56 499-1 · info(bittekeinspam)