Renting in Germany
In German advertisements there are two “types” of rent listed: Kaltmiete and Warmmiete, or "cold rent" (net rent) and "warm rent" (gross rent). A cold rent is the basic rent you pay for a room, flat, or house while the warm rent includes additional costs that come with tenancy (property maintenance services, waste disposal services, in some cases cleaning services, heating, water, chimney sweeping, etc.). In the end you pay the warm rent to your landlord.
cold rent + additional costs = warm rent.
In Germany, rental payments are made per month and usually by standing order. In many cases, a deposit must be paid to the landlord that will be refunded to you when your tenancy ends.
Tenancies are usually long-term with no end date on the lease, but sublets (Zwischenmiete) and shared accommodation (Wohngemeinschaft or WG) are also options. Most flats in Germany are let unfurnished, sometimes even without kitchen cupboards and appliances. The size of a dwelling is given as the area in square metres and the number of rooms not including kitchen and bathroom. Tenants and landlords always sign a written tenancy agreement (rental contract) that complies with German tenancy laws and sets out the legal terms and conditions of the tenancy. In addition to features such as location, size and furnishing the contract usually includes the following:
- the rental price
- all additional costs included in the warm rent
- the deposit amount and details of circumstances in which the deposit can be fully or partly withheld (e.g. to be used for repairing damage caused by you)
- all tenant and landlord obligations
- how to end the tenancy
Utilities (additional costs)
Additional costs such as heating and water are often, but not always, included in the warm rent. They are calculated on the basis of average household energy usage and living space. In most cases, electricity is not included in the warm rent, so you will need to find an electricity supplier and set up a contract on your own. Payments to energy suppliers are made on a monthly basis and by direct debit, therefore you will not receive a monthly bill. As it is legally required to issue an annual bill that clearly shows actual energy consumption and total payment, your landlord and your energy suppliers must pay you the difference in the event that you paid more than you consumed, or in the event that you consumed more than you paid, you must pay them the difference.
A notice period of three months applies to both the tenant and landlord when terminating the tenancy. The landlord is required to state why he or she is terminating the tenancy. The notice period that applies for the landlord increases to six or nine months if a tenancy has been running for more than five or eight years respectively. Notice must be given in writing, and the tenant has the right to object to the landlord's termination of the tenancy. If the terms of the tenancy do not comply with the law, or if your landlord does not adhere to the terms of the rental contract, you can seek legal advice from the German Tenants’ Association (Deutscher Mieterbund), although a membership will be required that includes a legal expenses insurance to cover lawsuits.