Renting a flat is one of the many points on the to-do list when moving to Germany, but how do you do it? Rafaela Scheinmann, real estate broker at Immobilier Düsseldorf, has graciously offered to share many of the important facts to know about renting a flat in Germany.
One of the first “missions” when I moved to Düsseldorf was to find a place where to live. I remember back then that I started my search on main online real estate platforms and realized one thing: most of them are all in German.
And I thought:
“how am I supposed to understand all these terms? What is important?”
In order to help English speakers understand some German real estate concepts, here is a small recap of the most important things to be aware before renting a flat:
What do “Kaltmiete”,” Warmmiete” and “Nebenkosten” mean?
German listing portals mention two different types of rent:
The difference between “Kaltmiete” and “Warmmiete” is referred to as “Nebenkosten” (or “Betriebskosten”) i.e. ancilliary costs.
The “Nebenkosten” concern all costs related to the use of the property by the tenant. However, costs associated to administrative or management costs should not be part of the “Nebenkosten”.
“Nebenkosten” could include any of the following:
- Lift costs
- Common area electricity
- Garden tending
- Building cleaning
- Antenna and cable fees
- Real estate tax
- Caretaker cost
- Heating and hot water provision
- Waste disposal
- Property insurance and liability insurance
- Chimney cleaning
- Street cleaning
- Water supply and drainage
- Laundry fee (maintenance of the machine)
These costs are not listed on online listing portals. Nevertheless, if you are about to sign a rent contract you should definitely ask the lessor which charges are part of the “Nebenkosten”. He should give you a complete overview and breakdown of such “Nebenkosten”. Also, do not forget to ask if the heating costs are already included in the “Nebenkosten”!
For those of you who have already signed their contract, but are wondering what are in those mysterious “Nebenkosten”, you have the right to ask your landlord. Moreover, if you think that the “Nebenkostenabrechnung” (overview of the annual ancillary costs) is too high, you have 12 months to ask your landlord for a written justification of these costs. On the other hand, he also has 12 months to correct the invoice.
Last but not least, is there a way to avoid high “Nebenkosten”? One trick is to look at the heating system. In Germany, there are several types of heating systems. As mentioned above, this can considerably affect ancillary costs. When you choose a flat, avoid renting one with electricity system (Strom) as it is very expensive.
Questions about renting a flat? E-mail Rafaela! Any questions about living #LifeInDüsseldorf? Feel free to send us an email with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have tips you’d like to share with others, we’re also accepting guest posts which include the author’s name, bio and photo.