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Information for tenants

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Information for tenants

Searching for a suitable flat or house may be quite time-consuming. To keep this to a minimum one should already have in mind exactly what one is looking for.

Among other things the following factors are of importance:

  • Flat location
  • Transport links
  • Nursery schools, schools etc. close by
  • Flat size
  • Monthly costs

Sources for flat hunting

Sources for flat hunting are classified advertisements in newspapers and the internet. Estate agent’s websites in the internet normally display a number of photos of flats etc.. This gives one an impression of the rental before actually viewing it on location. 


Rent consists of the basic costs plus the additional costs. In addition to this one may have to provide a one-off rent deposit.

Basic rent (net rate without additional costs)

Basically the rent is the initial amount agreed upon between the parties in terms of § 535 Clause 2 German Civil Code. For this reason the amount due can be freely negotiated between the parties. However, a rent increase made at a later date is tied to certain legal conditions. These are specified under §§ 556 ff, German Civil Code.

The landlord, for example, is able demand the approval of the tenant for an increase in rent up to the local comparable rate, if up to the point in time when the increase is due the rent has remained unchanged for the past 15 months. An increase in rent can only be demanded one year subsequent to the previous increase at the earliest ($ 558 German Civil Code).

However, there are upper limits. The amount of rent due may not exceed the local comparable rate by more than 20 percent. The local comparable rate can be taken from a rental table, a rental database, a survey or a comparison with a minimum of three comparable flats (§ 558a German Civil Code).

Additional costs (running costs and heating costs)

The gross rent is made up of the basic rent and the additional costs. Under certain conditions the monthly additional costs may exceed the net rental rate.

Additional costs may comprise of the following essential costs:

  • Property charges, land tax.
  • Costs for water supplies.
  • Waste water costs.
  • Heating costs.
  • Costs for warm water or for running facilities, which supply both heating and warm water together.
  • Costs for lifts.
  • Waste disposal and street cleaning.
  • Contract building cleaners.
  • Garden maintenance.
  • House illumination if used collectively.   
  • Chimney sweeping. 
  • Cost for property and liability insurance.
  • Caretaker costs.
  • Costs for cable TV or master TV aerial.
  • Laundry (e.g. equipment used collectively).
  • Miscellaneous running costs.

Detailed information concerning this can be found in the regulations for the arrangement of running costs from the 25th of November 2003.

In addition one must take the rental’s energy costs into consideration. These are displayed on the energy certificate for the house or flat in question.

Rent deposit (comp. § 550b German Civil Code)

At the beginning of tenancy the landlord may demand a one-off payment as a security. By doing so it is ensured that there are no claims left open subsequent to the tenant moving out.

The amount demanded may not exceed three months basic rent. It can be paid to the landlord in three monthly instalments.

The landlord is committed to depositing this payment on an account with standard interest, a three months period of notice and which is separate from his own assets. Other types of investment are permissible as long as agreed upon by both the landlord and tenant. On termination of tenancy and the return of the flat to the landlord, the landlord is committed to returning the payment and the interest earnings to the tenant.

Handing in of notice and notice period (comp. §§ 573 ff. German Civil Code)

Flats are rented out on either unlimited or temporary terms. If a term has not been determined then the tenancy is for an unlimited period. Nevertheless, tenancy can be terminated with a reasonable period of notice by either party if there are legally recognised grounds for giving notice.

Periods of notice for the landlord graduated according to the duration of tenancy:

  • Up to five years tenancy – three months.
  • Five to eight years tenancy – six months.
  • More than eight years tenancy – nine months.

The tenant may withdraw from the contract at any time with a three month period of notice.

Temporary rental agreement

The commencement and termination of temporary rental agreements are determined exactly. It is not possible for the landlord or tenant to terminate the contract prematurely. The landlord may terminate the contract prematurely if the contractual agreement is violated by the tenant.

Insurance cover for tenants

Household contents insurance

A household-contents-insurance covers damage to household goods, which has been caused by storm, fire, mains water, explosion and also burglary, theft or vandalism. The insurance covers all household goods such as furniture, carpets, clothing, appliances and similar. Cash and bonds are also covered but only up to a certain upper limit. Details can be found in the insurance policy concerned.

Liability insurance

Everyone should take out liability insurance to cover personal, property and asset damage claims made against them. Typical claims in the residential field are red wine stains on a host’s new carpet or when one breaks a vase when watering the neighbour’s flowers.

Those without liability insurance must pay for damage they have caused with their own income and assets, and, there is no upper limit to the amount one may have to pay. Exact details can be taken from the insurance policy concerned.

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