Rent increases are normal, but the landlord has to comply with certain rules. A rent increase is only allowed if your rent is lower than that of comparable properties in your neighbourhood. In many towns, the rent for comparable properties can be determined using the results of a rent level survey (Mietspiegel). The rent level survey shows the usual amount of rent depending on the property’s size, location within the town and amenities. You can find information about this online.
The first rent increase is not permitted until at least 12 months after you move in, and the period between future rent increases must also be at least 12 months. If the rent paid by the tenant today is relatively low, it may not be raised to the level for comparable properties in one go. There is a limit: the rent may only be increased by a maximum of 20% within a three-year period. In some of Germany’s Länder (federal states), the limit is 15%.
Please note: If you are faced with a sudden rent increase, it is important for you to seek advice, for example from a tenants’ rights association (Mieterschutzverein).
Some tenancy agreements provide for “stepped rent”, or in other words automatic rent increases at regular intervals (Staffelmiete). In this case, you know from the outset what to expect. In the case of stepped rent, additional rent increases are not allowed.
It is very difficult for landlords to terminate a tenancy. Tenancy law usually protects the tenant and therefore provides high formal hurdles for landlords. Tenancy law obliges the landlord to give reasons for the termination, whereby only certain reasons for termination are permitted.
Basically, the law distinguishes between the ordinary and the a extraordinary (immediate) termination of the lease.
- The reason for a ordinary termination for private landlords is essentially personal use. That means that the landlord can for example terminate the tenant if the landlord needs the property for a reasonable reason for him or herself, for close relatives or members of his or her household such as a caregiver.
- Reasons for an extraordinary and therefore immediate termination of the tenancy by the landlord are:
- repeated late or incomplete rent payments by the tenant,
- use of the rented property contrary to the contract, such as overcrowding of the apartment, unauthorised subletting, keeping animals etc.,
- Disturbance of housekeeping.
The listing is not exhaustive.
If you are interested in a property and would like to apply to rent it, it is important for you to be able to submit the following documents:
- An application form, which is usually handed out when you view a property;
- Copies of your identity card or passport;
- Proof of income; this typically means your payslips for the past 3 months.
Please note: If you have only just started a job in Germany, you can also provide a certificate from your employer stating your job and pay. Do not hesitate to contact your employer and ask whether you can receive any assistance in looking for somewhere to live.
- Landlords often ask apprentices for a rent guarantor agreement (Mietbürgschaft). This is a simple letter guaranteeing payment of the rent up to a defined amount. This means that, in the event that you are unable to pay your rent, someone else (usually your parents or relatives) will pay it and associated costs for you.
- Proof of rent payment certificate (Bescheinigung über Mietschuldenfreiheit): This is confirmation from your previous landlord that the rent was always paid on time. A document of this kind carries a lot of weight and provides strong evidence that you are a reliable tenant. However, you have no legal entitlement to receive a certificate of this kind.
- If you own property in your home country, you should state this as well.
- Proof of your creditworthiness, such as evidence of whether you are debt-free (e.g. the or another form of adequate evidence from your home country).
If you do not have all of these documents, for example because you have just arrived in Germany, you should state the reasons for this in your application.
To avoid any surprises, you should check whether the rent stated in the tenancy agreement is the net rent (Kaltmiete or Nettomiete) or the gross rent (Warmmiete or Bruttomiete).
The net rent is the basic rent for the property. However, on top of this there are a range of service charges or running costs which can significantly increase the total amount of rent to be paid. These include the costs of hot water, heating, waste collection charges, garden maintenance or janitorial services.
The gross rent includes all of these costs and is therefore the actual price you have to pay. The cost of electricity is usually not included in the rent. You have to conclude a separate contract with an electricity supplier.
Property advertisements generally provide the following information:
- Rent (net rent and advance payments towards running costs)
- Size in square metres (floor space),
- Number of bedrooms,
- Bathrooms (number and amenities),
- Balcony (50% of balcony floor space is included in the property’s floor space),
- Total number of rooms (not including the bathroom and kitchen),
- Energy rating (the building’s energy consumption),
- Year in which the building was constructed,
- When it was last renovated or refurbished, where applicable.
Most properties in Germany are rented unfurnished.
You have various options when it comes to finding somewhere to stay for your first few weeks, until you have found a property to rent or buy in Germany:
- Hotels cost an average of around 70 to 90 euros per person per night. Guest houses (Pensionen) are much cheaper.
- Accommodation in youth hostels (Jugendherberge) normally costs between 20 and 30 euros per person per night.
- You can also use websites to rent a room in private residences.
- One affordable alternative is to move into a shared flat (Wohngemeinschaft). This can be a particularly interesting option for young people, as it gives you the opportunity to get to know people quickly. Please look online for a Germany-wide search site.
- For a furnished 2- to 3-room flat on a temporary basis, you should expect to pay around 500 to 1200 euros per month, depending on the location and region. In addition to online sites dedicated to this option, you will also find many other commercial websites which allow you to search for accommodation to suit your specific requirements.
When you need advice, another option besides consulting a lawyer who specialises in tenancy law is to seek advice from a tenants’ association (Mieterverein).
To receive free personal advice from a tenants’ association, you must be a member and pay a membership fee. The level of the membership fee is set by each tenants’ association independently. At the moment, the average is 50 to 90 euros per year. The fee often also includes legal expenses insurance for tenancy law.