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How to find accommodation in Germany

The WBS Studienkolleg, as most universities, offers student housing. Though student housing is usually rather humble, it is a safe and easy way of finding accommodation at a reasonable price. If you need help, please contact us.

Most German students live in shared apartments called Wohngemeinschaft or WG. Living in a WG gives you the genuine feeling of being a German student. And the chances are higher that you can practice your freshly learnt German with a mother-tongue. Most often one of the lodgers in a WG is the main tenant renting the place out from the landlord. The others rent their rooms as subtenant. Often the rent includes all utilities and even internet connection. You share bathroom, kitchen and if available, living room and laundry room.

If you want to rent out a room as a subtenant, make sure to get a rental agreement. It does not have to be very elaborate. But it should state the address, size and content of the property that is rented, beginning and end of the agreement, the deposit, the rent including heating and utilities, the way of payment and conditions of giving notice.

Make also sure to ask the subletter or landlord/landlady for a Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung, a certificate that proofs your residence, which you need to register. You are required by law to register within two weeks after moving in. In most towns and cities, you can register with the Bürgerbüro or Bürgeramt. But make sure to get an appointment beforehand. If there are no appointments avaiblabe within these two weeks, of course it is not your fault. Then it might be good to call the relevant authority and ask what to do. 

If subletters are not willing to give you an agreement, it is highly likely that they rent out the room illegally which can have serious consequences for you as well, up to eviction or even indemnity. Then it is also highly likely that the subletter will withhold the Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung.

If you want to rent out an apartment on your own, make sure to take someone along who can speak German sufficiently when taking a look at the apartment or signing the rental agreement. In Germany, a rental agreement for an apartment is a legally binding agreement with a lot of obligations for you. You want to ensure you don’t get caught between a rock and a hard place.

Landlords usually request a deposit of up to three times the monthly rent. This might be a lot of money right at the start. Make sure to have enough funds for that.

Just as the monthly rent, do the payment of the deposit only via a bank transfer or direct debit mandate because your bank statement can serve as proof of payment. Do not hand over the rent or the deposit in cash. A responsible and reliable landlord will accept or even prefer bank transfer or mandate.

Student housing and the accommodations we offer are equipped with the standard furniture you need. The kitchen is equipped with the necessary equipment for preparing and storing food.

However, be prepared that most apartments you can rent out on the housing market are unfurnished. In some cases, there aren’t even a sink, cabinets or a stove in the kitchen. You are supposed to bring all that and the entire furniture along. Furnished apartments are usually much more expensive.

If you are looking for furnished rooms or apartment you have to look for the word möbliert or möbl. in rent ads.

Heating and utilities are usually included in the rent stated in the rental agreement. Although the usage of heating and utilities are limited to a certain amount. If you use excessive amounts of water or heating, you might have to pay an additional fee at the end of the year. On the other hand, if you use water and heating frugally you might get some money back.

Most rent ads mention a lump sum for the rent including heating and utilities. Sometimes though, the rent mentioned in the rent advertisement is just the Nettokaltmiete, the basic rent without heating and utilities. So be aware that the actual rent might be much higher.

If you rent out an apartment on the market, electricity is not included in the rent, nor is gas or internet connection. You have to register with a provider for electricity, gas and internet. This generates additional costs.

If you ever find the abbreviation Ct. or the word Courtage, the words Makler, Maklergebühr or Provision in a rent ad, be careful. It means you have to pay a hefty fee to get the apartment, up to two monthly rents.

Especially in the beginning of your time in Germany, think twice before renting out an apartment on your own. Student housing and WGs are the safer options.

Here is a short list that might help you to undestand the abbriviation you will find in rent ads :

  • Ct. (Courtage) means you have to pay a fee to get the apartment often equivalent to two months of rent.
  • DB (Duschbad) There is a shower in the bathroom.
  • EBK (Einbauküche) Kitchen is fully equipped.
  • EG (Erdgeschoss) Groundfloor
  • GEH (Gasetagenheizung) Apartment is heated by a gas. There is a heating device in your apartment. Your landlord does not supply the gas. Which means you have to make a contract with a gas provider. This also means that the rent can be significatly higher because you have to pay for the gas.
  • KM (Kaltmiete) rent including utilities without heating.
  • möbl. (möbliert) furnished.
  • NKM (Nettokaltmiete) basic rent without heating and utilities.
  • O or OH (Ofenheizung) The heating is oprovided by an oven in the room run with coal. You have to pay for the coal. There are only a few apartment left, heated with coal oven. These apartments are usually much cheaper but heating is teadious.
  • OG (Obergeschoss) Floor above the Groundfloor. 1. OG is the first floor above the ground floor.
  • WB (Wannenbad) there is a bath tub in the bathroom.
  • WBS In this case not our school but (Wohnberechtigungsschein). You need a certificate that entitles you to rent out publicly subedised apartment.
  • WM (Maschmaschine) Waching mashine is provided. But it can also mean
  • WM (Warmmiete) rent including heating and utilities.
  • ZH (Zentralheizung) Central heating, as opposed to Gasetagenheizung and Kolhleofen. That means the landlord is providing heating and it is included in the rent.
  • Zi. (Zimmer) Room. 2 Zi., for example, means two rooms additionally to kitchen and bathroom.

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