New Expat in Germany? Found your dream rental apartment? Now learn about your rental agreement and Tenant Rights in Germany.
So the months and months of your house hunting in Germany have come to end. You finally found your cool new crib in the neighbourhood of your choice. And a landlord ready to make the final offer. Congratulations!
In this blog post, we will go through some finer details of a rental agreement in Germany.
Disclaimer: This post has some affiliate links of services that I used during my house hunting process. I may earn a commission from the qualifying purchases. This way I can keep maintaining this blog.
First and the Foremost, Understand Your Rental Agreement
Once you have successfully found your dream rental in Germany, you have to deal with the most important step that sets you apart from a newbie expat- making sure that you clearly know your tenant rights in Germany before you sign that complicated Mietvertrag.
A typical German Mietvertrag or a rental agreement contains information on the length of tenancy, monthly rent amount, the term of notice and additional costs for heating, water, garbage disposal and more.
In case your German language skills are still not up to speed, then consider getting one of your German mates to go through the tenancy agreement in exchange for a good dinner or beer, or both!
It is possible that your tenancy agreement may contain some specific details which are not standard for you.
Ours, for instance, says we are not allowed to drill into the balcony walls. The balcony walls are the part of the whole building (and not our apartment), which is owned by a completely different Hauseverwaltung or a ‘house management organisation’ instead of our landlord.
See, what I meant? 😉
Rules on House Pets
If you’re a pet lover, you may want to know the rules on house pets before moving in. The good news is that the Federal High Court of Germany recently decided that landlords are no longer allowed to include pre-written clauses in your Mietvertrag that bans you from keeping dogs and cats. They can, however, ban pets while the contract is still being negotiated since the ruling’s intent was to avoid any element of surprise.
The ruling also allows tenants with legitimate reasons for keeping a pet, a space to negotiate in. This especially applies to people with the need for a seeing-eye dog or an emotional support animal and the like.
As such, each case has to be handled individually and should consider the interests of the landlord, the tenant, housemates and neighbours.
Related: How to Get Your Own Pet in Germany
Make sure you are covered for any damages caused by your pets.
If your cat or dog damages some of your rental property your landlord may be in the right to retain your caution deposit. In fact, they may be able to charge you to cover the cost of any damages caused by your pet. So pet liability insurance can really protect you from these unexpected damages.
Coya, a Berlin-based (and English speaking) insurance startup and offers comprehensive and affordable
Dog Liability insurance in Germany. Click here to get your quote with Coya now.
Loud Noisy Neighbour? You Have Protection!
Ideally, it’s always best to have good relationships with your neighbours. If you are getting disturbed by your one of your neighbours, simply go to them in person first and politely inform them about your problem.
Usually, these conflicts end right there.
In an odd case, if they continue bothering you with their noisy late-night raves or loud sex it’s time to call your landlord or the ordnungsamt.
If you reside in an apartment building and your neighbours repeatedly violates the Hausordnung, which are the house rules set by your landlord, inform your landlord and let him deal with the problem.
If their action, however, is a violation of the Ruhezeit, you can call the police.
Bear in mind though that not every moment of the day falls in the Ruhezeit in Germany. Mittagsruhe (midday silence) is between 1pm – 3pm and Nachtruhe between 10pm – 6am or 7am in the morning.
You can forget about mowing the lawn on Sundays and national holidays because Germany celebrates round the clock Ruhezeit on these days!
Want To End Your Contract Sooner? There IS An Out!
Every tenant in Germany is protected by the legal period of a notice of eviction which is three months. This is especially true if you have an open-ended contract. And the longer you reside in the apartment, your notice period also becomes longer.
Remember that your landlord can’t cancel your Mietvertrag without giving a berechtigtes interesse or a legally valid reason. In case, you want to terminate the contract, the statutory rule is that a tenant can always terminate the contract by giving the landlord a three-month notice without having to give a reason.
Just make sure that you don’t sign a Mietvertrag that forces you to rent for more than 12 months. Such contracts are, by the way, not allowed. But there have been cases when a landlord, armed with a long lease contract, and faced with a tenant who wants to terminate it, forces their tenant to keep the apartment for the rest of the stipulated period!
Unexpected Damages, Repairs? Protect Yourself From Extra Costs
Before you move into your rented house or apartment, you should make an appointment with your landlord so that together to inspect any scratches, damage, stains and any form of wear and tear in your new accommodation.
Create a list of these damages, take photos of the existing damages from various angles. Make sure to have your landlord sign the paper so that when you move out. Both parties can verify such damages.
There have been unfortunate cases, where the landlord retained most of the security deposit by falsely claiming new damages during the rental period. Also, make sure that your contract or house rules contain the scope of repairs for you and landlord.
Sometimes, no matter how thorough you are with your rental agreement, shit can still go down. Accidents could happen without your fault. In such cases, personal liability insurance is your best friend!
Want Some Preventive Measures? Get Your Backup!
As a tenant in Germany, you can join the local Mieterschutzverein (tenants’ association) that can give you professional support and legal advice for a very nominal annual fee. Once a member, your Mieterschutzverein can represent your interest in case you have a conflict with your landlord. In addition, after a few weeks of your membership, you can have a legal expenses insurance policy.
This will cover your legal expenses in case you will encounter problems pertaining to rental matters.
Note: You can always take out your own legal expenses insurance policy. It is known as a ‘Mieter-Rechtsschutzversicherung.
You can get a basic coverage starting from €15,18 with legal protection providers like Roland-Rechtsschutz.
These associations are in most German cities so you should find it easy to join one in your new neighbourhood.
The key point to remember is to know your tenant rights in Germany inside and out. Get in contact with your local Mieterschutzverein. Or, ask a German friend to help you navigate through your arduous Mietvertrag and all its fine print.
So Fazit: When it comes to the rental contract in Germany: Read it before you sign it! 😉
So, have you ever rented an apartment in Germany? Are there any other tenant rights in Germany that I missed in this post? We would love to hear your stories too so do share them with us in the comments section below.