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Renting an Apartment in Germany

Most expats decide on renting an apartment instead of buying one. Although this might be the more convenient solution, there’s a lot you should know before renting an apartment in Germany. In our guide, we cover all essential questions on house hunting as well as rental agreements in Germany.
In German cities, most people live in rental apartments.

In Germany, renting an apartment is rather common. In fact, about 50% of Germany’s population lives in rental apartments as opposed to their own property. When you decide to move to this country, renting an apartment in Germany is an attractive option, especially if you do not intend to stay indefinitely. The availability of rental apartments strongly depends on the area where you want to live. For instance, renting an apartment in Germany’s bigger cities can be quite costly which is why most people move to the suburbs instead. If you are interested in buying a flat or purchasing a house, please read our article on buying property in Germany.

Renting an Apartment in Germany: How to Go House-Hunting

Renting an apartment in Germany may become difficult if you want to move to a popular city where there’s a housing shortage already. Naturally, personal knowledge of the city and its neighborhoods (or very thorough online research for Germany’s cities) is of advantage. Moreover, when renting an apartment in Germany, make sure that you have proper access to the public transport in Germany and that parking space is available. The most convenient way of renting an apartment in Germany is, of course, to hire a German real estate agent who will take care of everything.

In Germany, furnished apartments are the exception. They usually come with very basic furnishing and are mostly rented out to students. Costs for renting an apartment in Germany may vary a great deal. Some cities (e.g. Munich, Hamburg, Cologne) are extremely expensive, whereas others offer a choice of very reasonably priced apartments.

Renting an Apartment in Germany: Real-Estate Agencies

German real-estate agents (Makler) provide a variety of services, including offers for empty lots, houses, and rental apartments. In Germany, each and every offer, whether for rental apartments or property, is only accessible via one single agent or company. Therefore, you might be asked to sign an agreement beforehand. The real-estate company wants you to confirm that any deal concerning their rental apartments has to be closed with the agent and not directly with the apartment’s landlord or owner.

This agreement also obliges you to pay the agent’s fee (Provision), if ─ and only if ─ you decide on renting an apartment in Germany. The fee may amount to two or three months’ worth net rent (Kaltmiete) + 19% VAT. This is a considerable amount, but it is not to be confused with a security deposit (Kaution) which you have to pay in addition to the real-estate agent’s fee.  

If the agent belongs to a professional association such as Ring Deutscher Makler or Immobilienverband Deutschland, it will be mentioned on his or her business card and website. Although such a membership is by no means a 100% guarantee of their trustworthiness, it is usually a good sign of integrity and reliability.


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