If you intend to rent an apartment or a house, we recommend concluding a written contract with your landlord. When buying an apartment or house, it is legally required to conclude a written contract.
Unlimited rental contract
In Germany, rental agreements are usually concluded for an open-ended period. The lease is for an indefinite period. Tenants are generally subject to a 3-month cancellation period. For landlords, cancellation periods are between 3 to 9 months, depending on the length of residence. If the landlord wants to terminate the lease, he needs a legally recognised reason for termination, for instance because he or his children want to live in the apartment or house themselves.
In Germany, you can also conclude a rental agreement in which the contractual end of the rental period is determined in advance. During the term of the contract, the landlord or tenant cannot terminate the tenancy (exception: termination without notice). In the case of this qualified temporary rental agreement, the rental agreement must include a reason for the time limit.
The following documents are required when signing a rental agreement with the owner or manager:
- lease, passport (with valid residence permit)
- employment contract or proof of income, if necessary.
Apart from the rent, there are other costs - so-called ancillary costs that usually are paid for heating, water, electricity, sewage, garbage collection, property tax; and if applicable: elevator, maintenance, gardening, lighting, chimney sweeping, insurance, janitor, laundry and so on.
These costs are usually paid in addition to the rent. Therefore, it is important to ask what is included in the rent when viewing an apartment in order to get an idea of how much the apartment or house costs per month including utilities. Ancillary costs are apportioned to the individual tenants of an apartment building (either by headcount or by living space). If the rental price is indicated with the additional word "warm", the rental price already includes heating costs. In Germany it is common to refer to the rent without ancillary costs included as “Kaltmiete”.
In many cases, heating and electricity costs are paid monthly at a fixed rate through ancillary costs and then billed precisely at the end of the year depending on actual consumption. The tenant himself is responsible for his own internet access, unless a contract covering the entire apartment building exists.
If the waste collection fees are not included in the ancillary costs, a household with four people will incur additional costs of about 200 euros per year, depending on the amount of waste produced. Information on waste separation in Germany can be found on the following link.
In Germany, it is common practice to pay a rental deposit equal to the amount of two to three months' rent when concluding a rental contract. The amount of the deposit can vary. However, there is a maximum limit of how much a landlord can charge: He or she may not demand more than three months' rent (without advance payment of ancillary costs). The deposit is due at the beginning of the tenancy but can also be paid in three instalments upon agreement. For more detailed information visit the website of the German Tenants' Association. After termination of the rental agreement, the landlord must repay the rental deposit amount including interest, if no claims are made.