Found Your Dream Home in Germany? Now Know Your Tenant Rights!
Expat Life in Germany

Found Your Dream Home in Germany? Now Know Your Rental Contract & Tenant Rights!

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(Last Updated On: June 4, 2021)

New Expat in Germany? Found your dream rental apartment? Now learn about a typical German rental contract, tenant rights in Germany and German landlord responsibilities.

 

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 contract in Germany and your tenant rights.

 


Disclaimer: This blog post may include affiliate links.  These links do not cost you anything but I might earn a small commission if you decide to use goods or services from one of my recommended partners.  Thank you for your support to help keep this platform growing!


 

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First and the foremost,

 

1. Understand your rental contract in Germany

 

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 Mietvertrag or a rental contract in Germany 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!

 


Related: How to Learn German on Autopilot (While Living and Working Full-time) in Germany


 

Verify the clauses in your contract 

 

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? 😉

If you really want to cover all your bases, then get your rental contract check online through YourXpert’s online contract verification service.

You can upload your rental contract on this page and YourXpert’s matches you with a real estate lawyer who:

  • Reviews your lease agreement and identify any possible pitfalls, missing or legally doubtful clauses.
  • Suggests better and legally favourable wording/changes in the contract.
  • Helps you demand necessary changes from your contractual partner (landlord or leasing company)
  • Replies to your follow up queries for free of cost

It costs only 84 EUR and you get a response from a real estate lawyer within 24 hours.

Learn more about this contract check service here

 

 

2. Rules on house pets in your rental agreement

 

If you’re a pet lover, you may want to know the rules on house pets before moving in. Generally, small animals like cats, hamsters, bunnies are allowed without any special clause in your rental contract in Germany. It still might be polite to give your landlord a heads-up before you bring your little friend home.

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.

The tenant laws in Germany also allow 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. You can read more about getting a pet in Germany here.

 

rental contract in Germany

 

But Before you get a pet 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.

GetSafe, 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 GetSafe now.

 


Related: Dog Liability Insurance in Germany – Explained


 

3. How to deal with a loud noisy neighbour

 

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.

 

No sure if loud sex or exorcism
???

 

If you reside in an apartment building and your neighbours repeatedly violate 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 1 pm – 3 pm and Nachtruhe between 10 pm – 6 am or 7 am 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!

 

 

4. Can you end your rental contract in Germany sooner?

 

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.

 


I’m Out!

 

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!

 

 

5. When can the landlord evict you?

 

Can the landlord ask you to leave before the contract term is over and without notice? It is extremely hard for landlords to unlawfully evict their tenants. Generally, two conditions apply for eviction notice:

1) You breached your contractual obligations (berechtigtes Interesse): 

  • Late or no payment of rent
  • Subletting the rented property to third parties without the landlord’s consent (e.g. Airbnb)
  • Continuous violation of house rules
  • Operating an unauthorised trade or business from the property (does not include home office)
  • Keeping a pet despite a lawful prohibition in your contract
  • Damaging or neglecting the rented property intentionally

 

2) The landlord needs the property for personal use (Eigenbedarfskündigung):

Personal use exists if the landlord needs the apartment for him/herself or for a family member for residential purposes.

The landlord must justify his legitimate need though, i.e. describe why and for whom he needs the property. He can claim the need for:

  • Children, stepchildren, parents, grandchildren, grandparents,
  • Siblings, nieces and nephews,
  • Partners, spouses, ex-spouses, parents-in-law,
  • Brothers and sisters-in-law, cousins,
  • Domestic workers (permanent nannies, foster carers and domestic helpers)

 

 

6. Who pays for unexpected damages and repairs?

 

Before you move into your rented house or apartment, you should make an appointment with your landlord to inspect any scratches, damage, stains and any form of wear and tear in your new accommodation.

Document these defects: Create a list of the damages, take photos from various angles. Get your landlord to sign the list so you have written verification of the damages when you move out.

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 the landlord.

Sometimes, no matter how thorough you are with your rental contract in Germany, shit can still go down. Accidents could happen without your fault. In such cases, personal liability insurance is your best friend!

You can get private liability insurance in Germany with GetSafe starting at € 4.99/month.

 


Click here to create your offer with GetSafe


 

7. 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 Germany. 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.

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.

Protip: You can always take out your own legal expenses insurance policy. It is known as a ‘Mieter-Rechtsschutzversicherung.

 

 

Hausratversicherung

 

 

Fazit: When it comes to your tenant rights and rental contract in Germany: Read it carefully 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.

 

tenant rights in Germany

Hi there, I am the human behind this blog. If you could not tell by my photo, I am fueled by tea. My expat journey started at the age of 19. Germany has been my home for several years. I hope you will find some helpful insights if you are considering moving to Germany or already live here.

13 Comments

  • Shanker

    Hi Yamini, i am from India, i have sent notice via email to my landlord on termination of rental contract on 31.03.2021, so that my notice period will start from 01.04.2021 ends 30.06.2021. i have not informed him via post since i was in India. Now my landlord says email information will not be valid, he will consider only which is sent via post. is this a valid reason. After reaching Germany i again sent post by putting the old date (31.03.2021) in the Mietvertrag Kundigung. Can you suggest, is the information send via email is in valid. because of this issue i have to pay 2 more months rent which cost me more than 1000 euros.

    please advise.

    • Yamini

      Hey Shanker, Sorry to hear this.

      Usually, a written termination notice should suffice – does it specify in the rental contract that ‘written’ means just post and not emails? Either way, it sounds a bit fishy of your landlord. I recommend you speak with a lawyer to clarify this.

  • Terry

    Hi Yamini! I have a question: what if you are in the scenario where the landlord is selling the house you reside in to another party who plans on taking up residence in the home? How is your original deposit handled, and what rights do you have in such a scenario? Is the deposit given back to you, the sale is made, sign a new contract with the new landlords, and give them the deposit? I realize that if the new landlords are wanting to take up residency, you will only occupy the house for until you must vacate the house, but I’m confused as to how the “transfer of power” plays out from old landlord to the new landlord. Thanks!

    • Yamini

      Hey Meghna, your best bet is to check your rental contract if there’s anything in there about it or just ask your landlord. These ‘rules’ really differ from landlord to landlord.

  • Prima

    I found the court ruling you refer to regarding pets:
    mieterbund.de/mietrecht/bgh-urteile-mietrecht/bgh-urteil-detailansicht/article/19734-generelles-hunde-und-katzenverbot-im-mietvertrag-unwirksam.html

    I was a bit confused by the wording here. Interestingly, this 2013 stipulates that a landlord cannot unilaterially ban animals, that they have to consider tenants with pets on a case-by-case basis. So there are still cases when landlords may not allow pets, but it has to be a negotiation.

    Thanks for your super helpful website!
    Best,
    Prima

    • Yamini

      Hey Prima, Thank you for the kind words! I read quite a few websites to get info, but I will make sure to add a source for this 🙂 However, it is correct that when it comes to pets German tenant laws allow some space for negotiation. I hope that you can find a solution with your landlady and get your ESA. Good luck! 🙂

      • Rita Dallal

        Hello Yamini ,
        I hope this email finds you safe and well. I am an international student from Jordan and I need some guidance/advice about an issue I am facing, and I would like to ask for your support. I have looked for a single bedroom apartment in Cologne for my Germany Year and someone reached out to me and offered me an apartment exactly what I was looking for 350 euros along with security deposit. I signed to a contract (copy of lease agreement) digitally thinking that I have found a residence for my stay. I read the contract twice and agreed to all the terms. Everything went well until the money transfer was sent twice to two different digital accounts which the landlord provided me. As a result, the money transfer was not successful due to unknown reasons. Mind you she did not give me her German bank account information; she gave from a bank account called Monese Bank. We tried Western Union to send the money to U.S and it also was unsuccessful. It was very suspicious at the end that the owner of the apartment to send us bank accounts from various countries. Moreover, the transfers were unsuccessful. I willingly offered to transfer the fees to a German official bank account (non-digital/conventional account) or pay cash on my arrival I come to Germany, but she refused my offer and I kindly asked her if we can terminate the contract because I am not willing to transfer the money to a different bank account the third time as I have paid a good amount of commission and it’s a huge amount of money that I will transfer. Now, she is demanding that I must pay 300 euros (it feels like a blackmail) to terminate the contract and not even think of a solution (mind you that was not even mentioned in the contract). I have told her that I am happily willing to transfer the money to a German Bank account, but she still insists to send her the termination fees again to a digital account RIA and I am not accepting to pay this amount. So, I am seeking a legal representation for students since I cannot afford the high fees that might require for big law firms. if you have any connections with such law organizations who help students to advise legally what are the consequences to end this hassle or if I would face any difficult issue. please, I need support and cooperation to help me either to forward me this email or my case to somebody you know from a legal background or send me the connection name and I am willing to connect directly with them. Please let me know as soon as possible. Please, find the attached of our last communication.
        P.S: the emails are coming from her lawyer. I first had contact with the landlord now the lawyer is emailing me.

  • Prima

    Hi Yamini! Thanks for this amazing website. Question: What are your sources for the pet-tenant laws you cite here? My landlady does not want to allow me an emotional support animal, so it would be good to have something to show her. Other websites are contradictory on this point.
    Thanks so much!

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