If you want to rent a flat or house, we recommend having a written contract between yourself and the landlord. When purchasing a flat or house, a written contract is required.
Leases in Germany are customarily open-ended. The lease runs for an undetermined time. A notice period of three months generally applies to renters. Notice periods of between three and nine months apply to landlords, depending on the length of residency. If a landlord wants to terminate a lease, they must have legally recognised grounds for termination, for example, because they or their children wish to live in the flat or house themselves.
You can also arrange a temporary lease in Germany, in which the lease termination date is stipulated in the contract from the start. Neither landlords nor renters may terminate the contract during the lease period (exception: termination without notice). Under such a temporary lease, a reason for the time limit must be included in the lease agreement.
The following documents are needed to enter into a lease agreement with the owner or manager:
• lease, passport (with residency permit)
• if applicable employment contract, references from previous landlord
Additional costs are due along with the rent, the utilities (Nebenkosten) for heating, water, sewage, property tax, lift maintenance, building cleaning, gardening, lighting, chimney cleaning, insurances, concierge, shared antenna, washing facilities, and so on.
The renter must generally pay these costs in addition to the rent. You should therefore absolutely ask what is included in the rent when visiting a property, so that you have a proper idea of the monthly cost of the flat or house including utilities.
Utilities are allocated to the individual renters in a rental property (either by number of people or by surface area of the home). You can generally assume that utilities will total around €2 to €3 per square metre. If the term “warm” is included with the rental price, this means the heating costs are already included in the rent. “Cold lease” is customary in Germany. In this case information about the rent includes only the base amount. Heating costs are calculated separately as utility costs and must be added. If trash disposal taxes are not included in the utilities, additional costs in the amount of around €150 to €200 per year for a household of four people may also be due, depending on the amount of trash.
It is customary in Germany that a security deposit amounting to two to three months' rent, without heating costs, must be paid upon conclusion of a lease. The amount of the security deposit can vary. However, there is a cap: the landlord may not demand more than three months' rent (without advance payment of utilities). The deposit is due at the start of the lease. Upon termination of the lease, the landlord must repay the deposit including interest, once they have no more claims on the renter.