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Renting Property

Germany - Renting Property

Most people living in Germany choose to rent a property not buy. The rate of home ownership in Germany is, along with Switzerland, the lowest in Europe. Renting is relatively cheap in Germany and the regulations surrounding renting a property are generally favourable to the tenants.

German rental contracts can be complex so it is worth using a lawyer to help you through the process. A landlord may ask you to provide any of the following documentation before signing a contract:

  • Proof of earnings
  • CV
  • Proof of payment for your previous property – in the form of a credit rating certificate which can be obtained from your former landlord
  • Contact details of former landlord for use as a reference
  • Details of a guarantor who will support you financially if necessary

Your payment for the property will be split into two parts – the basic rent and the landlord’s additional services or running costs, which may or may not include utility bills. The rent is fixed according to the tenancy agreement but the additional costs may fluctuate over the period of the tenancy. Rent increases in Germany are capped by the government at no more than 15% over a 3 year period, and the proposed increases will be set out in the initial tenancy agreement. Most leases in Germany have an unlimited duration period, and require 3 months’ notice to be terminated. However, if you have agreed to a lease with a fixed duration then it will be very difficult to terminate it early.

You will normally be asked for a deposit equivalent to 2 or 3 months’ rent, as well as your first month’s rent paid upfront. Your deposit will be placed in a dedicated bank account with a signature from both you and your landlord, and if there are no disputes will be returned to you at the end of your tenancy with accrued interest.

It is important to know that for property in Germany the number of rooms advertised includes living rooms, dining rooms etc but not bathrooms, kitchens or hallways. For example, a property with 2 bedrooms, a living room and a separate dining room will be advertised as a 4 room property. Rental property prices vary throughout Germany but in large cities you can expect to pay from 400 Euros upwards per month for a 2 room property or 600 Euros upwards for a 4 room property, and in rural regions you will pay from 300 Euros upwards per month for a 2 room property or 450 Euros upwards per month for a 4 room property.

Furnished properties are very rare in Germany and are likely to be incredibly costly. Instead it is likely that you will opt for an unfurnished property. This normally means that the property will be completely bare, with no kitchen appliances, built in cupboards or closets or lights and other fittings at all. Many German properties are rented without any designated kitchen whatsoever, so you should be careful to check this when you are searching for properties.

When you move in to a property you will be given the option to have it painted immediately or at the end of your tenancy. If you have it painted immediately the landlord will do it and you will not be able to make changes to it. If you decide to paint it at the end of your tenancy, you will be able to make any changes you like throughout the tenancy period but when you leave you will need to have it painted to a standard that the landlord agrees is acceptable. If not, the landlord has the right to charge you for professional painting services.

Real estate agents in Germany are known as Immobilienhändlers. If you choose to source your property through an agent you should check whether the fees are your responsibility or are paid by the property owner, as the law for this is currently in the process of changing. Other options for sourcing properties might be advertisements in newspapers or real estate websites. Bear in mind that rental properties are often snapped up very quickly, so you’ll need to act fast and make quick decisions.

It is always advisable to have an inventory carried out before you move in to a property and to take photographs as evidence of any existing damage to the property. You will require written permission from your landlord if you want to keep a pet or you want to install a satellite dish or tv antenna etc. Most properties will already have internet and a telephone line installed. It is not advisable to set this up yourself as it can cause complications with your tenancy agreement.

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