Renting in Germany: A Complete Guide to Finding Your New Home

Renting in Germany can be a challenge to everyone, and especially internationals. However, if you just master the key terms, budget-friendly areas, as well as the renting guidelines and documentation, you will be alright. We will help you in mastering all the information on renting in Germany, tell you where people usually advertise their properties, and help you decide on the most convenient way to rent an apartment.

Initially, start by figuring out exactly what you want. This will help you narrow down the list of options and therefore facilitate and speed up the renting process. Think about whether you want to live alone or you want a flatmate, is it okay if your flatmate is a stranger, what city/neighborhood are you interested in, how many rooms should there be, what floor is comfortable for you, and the maximum amount of money you’re willing to spend for the monthly rent. These are just some of the things you should consider before starting out the search for an apartment. However, apart from these, there are a few other things you should know. Let’s go through them together.

What documents do I need to rent a flat in Germany?

Documents are truly essential when you want to rent a flat in Germany. They will help your landlord know you are a trustworthy tenant, and they will help you ensure your rights as a tenant. Although there are places, usually outside of the large cities, where the following documents are not as essential, however, when it comes to major cities like Berlin, they are a must-have. So, here’s what’s essential:

1. A copy of your ID or passport

Signing the tenancy agreement or simply looking at the flat (in most cases) requires you to provide a copy of your ID or passport, to either the landlord, estate agent, or both.

2. Salary confirmation or bank statements

You should be able to confirm that you have monthly income into your bank account and that you have the financial resources to pay your rent. The salary confirmation is usually a salary slip provided by the company you work for. However, if you cannot provide a salary slip, you should provide the landlord with your bank statement, usually a statement of the last three months, to prove you have sufficient income.

3. Credit record documentation (Schufa record)

This is essential for those who have lived/rented in Germany previously. The credit record documentation, also known as Schufa Selbstauskunft or Schufa Record, is a document that registers your debt track.

Those who have not lived in Germany before, do not have a Schufa record yet; since it starts automatically once you start using German bank accounts or sign contracts in Germany. So, if you don’t have a Schufa record, simply provide bank statements and show that you have always paid rent on time.

4. A guarantor

Especially if you cannot provide the aforementioned documents, the landlord will ask you to provide the name of a guarantor. This person must confirm to pay your rent if you are unable to pay it, for any sort of reason. The guarantor should be German, but it can also be your parents.

How do I rent a flat in Germany?

There are a few possibilities to renting in Germany. Some of the most common ways of renting are:

Renting through an estate agent

You can rent an apartment through an estate agent in Germany since it is usually easier, but sometimes it comes at a price. Estate agents are hired by owners to help in selling or renting their apartments or houses. However, fees are included for the services provided by the agents.

But you’re not always the one to pay the commission, unless you’re planning on buying a property. So, when it comes to renting, the landlord usually pays the commission, that’s why people usually prefer using websites instead of employing an agent. However, before signing any agreement, make sure you check how these commission fees are to be paid.

Available online property portals

There are various ways one can search for flats and rent them online. See below for a list of online renting portals in Germany:

There are also portals where you can find temporary apartments and flat shares, such as:

Renting through word of mouth

Another renting possibility is through word of mouth. It actually proves to be an efficient way of finding a nice and comfortable apartment. Simply let as many people know you’re interested in renting a flat in Germany, and if anyone has information, they will inform you.

Usually, when someone wants to leave an apartment, they will suggest their friends or acquaintances to their landlords. This way, the landlord won’t have to worry about finding a new tenant, and you won’t have to worry about finding a flat.

What does the rental contract contain in Germany?

Having a rental contract is good since it ensures your rights as a tenant and elaborates on the do’s and don’ts to avoid any misunderstandings in the future. Some of the components rental contracts usually contain are:

  • Duration of the agreement
  • Deposit amount
  • Amount of monthly rent
  • Amount of additional costs, depending on your use
  • Rent increases information
  • A complete list of furniture, if you rent a furnished apartment
  • Pet rules (whether or not you’re allowed to keep them inside)
  • House rules set by the landlord, regarding the repair expenses they will and will not cover
  • Notice length (usually three months, if you or your landlord wants to cancel the agreement)

What’s the cost of renting in Germany?

Average renting prices are usually set as a cost per square metre. However, the prices you will get will vary depending on where you’re planning to live in. Central and larger locations usually have the highest prices in comparison to those in the suburbs.

The apartments in Germany are rented out with an average of €7.04 a square metre, reaching as high as €10.41 a square metre in Stuttgart and €9.74 cold rent in Munich, according to F + B MietspiegelIndex 2019. Cities, the likes of Munich, Cologne, and Hamburg have higher rent prices than Leipzig, Bochum, or even Berlin. However, Berlin has seen a rise in pricing due to demand. The most expensive municipality in Germany is Karlsfeld, in the district of Dachau, 12 km northwest of Munich, with an average net cold rent of €10.86 per square meter.

The rental prices are generally reasonable, with the average rent being €1,300. A one-bedroom apartment in a German city costs around €700, meanwhile the same apartment outside of the city will cost you around €530.

When it comes to deposits and utilities in Germany, one is expected to pay a deposit that is equal to three months’ rent. It should not be more than this amount. The utilities, on the other hand, are usually not included in the rent and this should be mentioned in the rental contract. The property that does not include the heating and utilities in the rent is described as “cold rent”, or Kaltmiete. Meanwhile, a Warmmiete will include heating and additional costs.

Understanding the rental terms and abbreviations in advertisements

You will see a lot of German terms and abbreviations in real estate listings, so let’s go through some of them:

Term/Abbreviation Meaning
Quadratmeter/QM Square meters
Altbau/AB Old building
Neubau New building
Balkon/BK Balcony
Einbauküche/EBK Built-in kitchen
Erdgeschoss/EG Ground floor
Gasheizung/GH Gas heating
Kaltmiete/KM Net or cold rent (utilities and maintenance not included)
Nebenkosten/NK Utility/maintenance costs
Warmmiete/WM Rent, including utility costs and heating (not electricity)
Wohngemeinschaft/WG Shared apartment
Zentralheizung/ZH Central heating
Etagenheizung Floor heating
Möbiliert Furnished

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