top of page
  • Writer's pictureGermanPedia

Tenants Rights in Germany: 5 Important Tenant Laws To Protect Renters in Germany

Knowing your rights can save you a lot of trouble and money in Germany.

Gavel used by a court judge
Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash


Key Takeaways

  • There is a big gap between the supply and demand of affordable housing in Germany.

  • Many people are taking advantage of this situation by exploiting foreigners.

  • The only way to protect yourself is by knowing your rights as a tenant in Germany.

  • Getting membership in a tenants union (Mieterverein) can save tenants money and hassle.

  • Rechtsschutzversicherung (Legal protection insurance) can save you thousands in legal fees.


Table of Contents

  1. Landlord drafting a fixed-term lease

  2. The landlord refuses to provide Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung

  3. The landlord is not returning the security deposit

  4. Buying the furniture is a precondition to rent the property

  5. The landlord deducts invalid charges from the security deposit

  6. Conclusion


 

There is a big gap between the supply and demand of affordable housing in Germany. The situation is even worse in the major German cities like Munich, Berlin, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, etc.


Here are five illegal and common practices by some landlords in Germany.


1. A rental property with a fixed-term lease

Usually, the rental contracts in Germany are valid for an indefinite time. But, you may find many landlords renting the apartment for a fixed period.


As per German law, a landlord needs a strong reason for drafting a limited-time contract.


For example, a landlord can only draw a limited-time contract if (s)he or their relatives need the property. In this scenario also, the landlord needs to prove that (s)he or their relative does not have any other place to live.


What can you do about it?

As there is a big gap between demand and supply, landlords take advantage of this situation. So, if you are in a hurry, you have to accept these terms.


But, you can always consult a lawyer or a tenants union (Mieterverein) for advice when in doubt.


💡NOTE: German tenancy law overrules the terms and conditions of the rental contract. Which means, the clauses in the rent contract must follow the German law, else they are invalid.


2. The landlord refuses to provide Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung

There is a big gap between the supply and demand of affordable housing. As a result, you will find many rental properties that do not provide Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung.


This occurs when a tenant is subletting the property without the landlord's approval.


What can you do about it?

Unfortunately, there is nothing much you can do about it. The only option is to look for another property.



3. The landlord is not returning the security deposit

Many foreigners struggle to get their security deposit (Kaution) back.


Landlords follow this practice as most foreigners return to their homeland. Once they are back home, they either give up or forget about their security deposit.


It is an unethical and illegal way for landlords to earn money.


According to § 551 BGB, the landlord has to return the security deposit after the end of the tenancy. But unfortunately, there is no fixed deadline defined under German law.


Generally, landlords return the deposit within six months. But, the time may extend depending on the situation.


In the worst-case scenario, things will go to court. But, the good news is that most courts in Germany expect landlords to return the deposit within six months.


What can you do about it?

If you find yourself in this situation, send a written complaint to the landlord.


If that doesn't work, you can contact a tenants union (Mieterverein) for help. The tenants union (Mietverein) can resolve the conflict most of the time.


But, if it fails, your last resort is to hire a lawyer and take it to court. Unfortunately, hiring a lawyer in Germany is very expensive.


Thus, many locals take "Rechtsschutzversicherung (Legal protection insurance)" for such situations.


4. Buying the furniture is a precondition to rent the property

Many people make buying the furniture or kitchen a precondition to rent the property. It is normally the previous tenant who makes such demands.


They even ask for an unfair price for their used furniture or kitchen. Again, it is because of the gap between supply and demand.


Sadly, you cannot do much about it.


5. The landlord deducts invalid charges from the security deposit

After the end of the tenancy, the landlord settles all the expenses with the tenant. The expenses are the utility charges (Nebenkosten), any damage to the property, etc.

The landlord sends you a receipt for your reference. Later deducts the costs, if any, from the security deposit (Kaution).


But, sometimes, landlords invent expenses that do not exist. They then deduct these expenses from the security to make money.


What can you do about it?

As you can guess, it is illegal to do so. Hence, if you think the landlord made up the expenses, you can get them checked.


There are many online services like Conny, Advocard, etc., that do it for you.


You can also contact a tenants union (Mieterverein) to proofread the settlement statement. If they find any discrepancies, they will contact the landlord on your behalf to fix them.


 

In the end

It is a bad situation to be in. Contacting Mieterverien and the lawyers consumes time and money. Thus, I would always file the written complaint to the landlord first.


If I do get any response or the security, I will call the landlord and warn him.


If that also doesn't work, I will contact a tenants union (Mieterverein). The reason is that their membership is way cheaper than hiring a lawyer.


If Mieterverien also cannot resolve it. My last resort is to hire a lawyer.


Again, a "Rechtsschutzversicherung (Legal protection insurance)" can save you thousands of euros in this situation.


 

Disclaimer: Some of the links in the article are affiliate links. Hence, we earn from qualifying purchases, without costing you a cent extra.

230 views

Disclaimer

The information provided in this post is based on our own experience and in-depth research. The content of this post might be inaccurate. It should not be considered financial, tax, legal, or any kind of advice.

We are not certified brokers or consultants. Always do your own research and contact certified professionals before making any decision.

We finance our extensive work via affiliate links. Thus, some or all of the links in the post might be affiliate links.

We get money if you click on such a link or conclude a contract with the provider without costing you a cent extra. 

All links marked with the "*" are affiliate links.

bottom of page