How to apply for a Rental Apartment

Finding an apartment in Germany

Have you decided to move to Germany? If so, hopefully your papers are all ready, the flights are booked and your bags are packed. There’s a certain excitement as well as anxiety, of the challenges that lay ahead. Here we will try and list a few of the biggest challenges, that you might face, when you move to Germany and are trying to find an apartment.

The home rental market in each region of Germany will vary a bit, but these tips should help in boosting your chances and make the process of finding a place to live a bit easier for you. Whether you choose to live in some of the best cities to live in Germany like Frankfurt,Munich, Berlin or any other place in Germany, try and incorporate these tips, to get an apartment as soon as possible.

‌Communicate in German

Even if you don’t know German, at least the E-mails should be sent out in German. This makes it easier for the landlords to understand you. Always use the formal ‘Sie’ form. Use Google Translate Or even better DeepL Translations. If you have someone at hand who can translate it for you: that would be the best option. Since each landlord receives hundreds of applications for his apartment, try and make it easier for him to spot your application.

‌Keep all documents ready

Do this before you start looking for the apartment. Competition is fierce, so be one of the first ones to apply. Competition is sincerely fierce in the housing market here, and so you need to be ready with everything , so you can shoot it off in no time, soon as the listing appears. A list of the documents required is listed here:

1. ID/Passport copy (Mandatory)
2. Proof of income (Mandatory) This could be your last 3 payslips/Work contract/bank statement
3. A Schufa record (Frequently requested for)  which is your credit score in Germany. It typically states whether you have been making your debt payments on time or not. You can apply for this on the official website here 

4.A Mietkostenfreiheitsbescheinigung (Some landlords request this). This is basically your rental history, stating that you have no previous debts from your previous landlord

5. A Mietbürgschaft (Asked for sometimes). This is requested for normally, if one cannot prove a stable source of income.
6. A Covering/Introduction letter (Sometimes requested). *Applying for an apartment is almost the same in Germany as applying for a new job, so treat it seriously.
7. Private Liability insurance- Haftpflichtversicherung (Sometimes requested for, especially in fully furnished apartments. And even if its not requested for, then we suggest you add it to your application as build trust and reliability for the landlord. We have covered this in detail in this article.

‌Register + Create a profile

Sites such as Immowelt, Immonet, Immobilienscout24, Ohne Makler etc allow you to register and create a profile, so please go ahead and do so. Saves time and effort and the idea again is to be one of the fastest ones to apply.

‌Be the First to apply

Probably switch on the notifications for new listings on the sites you have registered. In some cities fresh listings area active only for a few hours, and you want to make sure that you are one of the first ones to apply before it’s taken off.

‌Apply for short-term stays at the beginning

The idea is so that you are already in Germany when you apply for the long-term apartment. A viable option is to go for a short-term rental like Air-BnB,Homelike (with a 50EUR discount), SpotaHome SmartMents ,Uniplaces etc or the many fully furnished apartments that are available in multiple cities, and once you are here, you can have a first-hand look at the apartments you like for the long term. Although this will be a little bit more expensive option, probably for the short-term the best option available, initially. Try also on Facebook groups as well as Telegram groups, for the same. We also have a Housing Subgroup, on Telegram, where members keep posting regularly. You can join this here. to search actively

‌Introduction Letter

Remember that applying for an apartment in Germany is almost the same as applying for a job! And so attaching an introduction letter greatly enhances your chances. Short, precise one-page introduction letter to the landlord telling them who you are, where you come from, why you would be a perfect tenant etc. Reassure the landlord that you are a low-risk candidate and can pay rent on time. Add employment contract, any other papers to substantiate this, maybe offer 2-3 months advance rent. Typically a landlord is looking for a stable, monthly income of 3x of cold rent. 

‌Apply for lesser popular areas with Expats

Most ex-pats first apply closest to the city centre. Be flexible and apply a little bit further away from the city centre. You will not only have lesser competition but also lesser rents. German public transportation is quite efficient in most parts of the country, and will get you to the city center, in 30-40 mins, even in major cities.

‌Be flexible with the Contract date

Change your start date to meet the exact availability of the apartment. Landlords don’t want to leave their property empty, even for a few days = loss of revenue. So even if it means you have to pay a little extra to be able to match his availability, then try and do so.

‌Arrange apartment viewing

This could be a one-on-one Or with multiple applicants, preferably one-on-one. The most common one is mass viewings where you might find 30-40 other applicants with you, for the viewing of the same apartment. So if you get an opportunity for a one-on-one viewing, then grab it. Try n speak in German or take a friend along, be punctual and carry all the documents. 

‌Word of Mouth…

…is the strongest tool! Speak to your colleagues/friends anyone. Trust is a big deal in Germany! So if you’re referred by someone, to your potential landlord then your chances of success are higher. ‌Be persistent – Try Try Try till you succeed!!!

For live interaction with other expats: join the discussion on this topic on facebookfacebook or Telegram logo.svgtelegram

A few FAQs:

A two-month head start is ideal because it should be sufficient. A three-month search period is advised if you reside in Berlin, Munich, or Hamburg where there is significantly more demand than availability. Potential apartments start to be listed three months before their next availability date because renters typically have a three-month notice period.

A fixed-term contract or an open-ended, limitless contract are both possible; the latter is more typical in the nation. The contracts are more likely to be open-ended with a required notice time because Germans like to rent long-term unless they need a Zwischen Mieter (in-between tenant) when they are away temporarily.

Again, this could change depending on the contract and the owner. If you rent an apartment with more rooms than you need or want to turn it into a shared apartment, the landlord would typically let you look for other tenants (WG). State laws vary and are hazy when it comes to subleasing for businesses like Airbnb or For instance, in Berlin, you must have at least one resident in the unit at the time of the sublease to commercially sublet your property. 

You could do it simply in Munich. If you anticipate needing new or different renters to live in the apartment at some point, it is usually a good idea to discuss this upfront. To simplify the procedure, once this occurs, you might either acquire the landlord’s support or obtain authorization to sublet.

The typical scenario nearly typically comprises a three-month deposit and the first month’s rent. As a tenant, this deposit can also be paid in three months to the landlord. A few popular online tools to use this facility are KautionsFrei, KauTel and HeySafe.  Using these tools ensures that the security deposit is kept safely. This can be different if it’s a short-term rental or depending on the specific landlord. Although it is feasible to discuss the deposit, it is typically not possible to bargain the rent because German law forbids landlords from setting or skyrocketing rents at their discretion. It is based on a precise estimate of your location and the size of your apartment. Any other elements driving up the cost would be related to the furniture. 

After receiving the contract, you still need to take care of a few more details. 

Anmeldung (Registration of address) with your local authority within 14 days

-Photo/Video of your apartment -A peculiar thing about German culture, is to take insurance for almost every situation. Although this can seem bizarre in the beginning, but since they all do it hence their assumption is that you too have all the insurances in place, in case of any eventuality.

Keeping this in mind, please take pictures/videos of the apartment for your records, to avoid any legal dispute at the point of leaving the apartment. It is advisable to take Legal insurance for the same. But please note that most providers will process the claim only for a pre-existing situation, not an ongoing one. This means that one cannot opt for insurance at the point of an issue cropping up, the insurance has to be taken before the issue started.

-Putting your family name on the letterbox and the doorbell-Coordinate with the landlord whether you are supposed to do this or if they will do the same, for you. This is important for receiving all mail, as most official mail is sent by Post.

Getting an electricity contract – Although when you get the apartment, there will be electricity, do check the provider and the conditions being provided. And change to a better provider if you feel the need to do so, to save some money which can go into hundreds of Euros over the span of the year. We have covered this extensively here.

Getting an internet connection -Although it’s a necessity, in the times we are living in, but this can be a very frustrating process, as can take almost up to six weeks to get a connection set up, so try and get the contact finalised at the earliest. You can read a bit more about that here.

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