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Renting in Germany: How Can a Foreigner Successfully Rent in Germany?

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

Whether you are a student, a single professional, or a family, this guide covers everything you need to know about renting in Germany.

Big boxes used while relocating are stacked on each other in an empty room
Guide to renting a property in Germany in English

Key takeaways

  • Finding a house to rent in Germany is difficult for foreigners. It can take up to 6 months to find a decent place to rent in Germany.

  • Check multiple platforms daily to find a rental property

  • Be the first to message the landlord. Always briefly introduce yourself in the first message you send to the landlord.

  • Bring all the necessary documents with you during your visit to the potential rental property.

  • Never pay the rent or the security deposit in cash. Many scammers will take your money and disappear.

  • Check the rental contract carefully and negotiate the terms if required.

  • Finding a rental property in Germany is difficult when you are abroad. So, consider booking temporary accommodation instead.

  • You need "Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung" from the landlord to register yourself at the local town hall of your city. Registering at the local town hall is mandatory for every resident in Germany. After registering, you will get your health insurance card, income tax, social security number, and other essential documents.

  • There are several cases of rental property scams in Germany. Hence, do not share personal data and money before visiting the property and signing the contract.

Table of contents

1. Different types of rental properties in Germany

There are four types of rental properties in Germany. (Create an image of types of rental properties)

  1. Shared apartments (WGs): Properties where more than one tenant lives together and shares expenses.

  2. Student apartments (Studentenwohnheim): One can compare them to dormitories or hostels. As the name suggests, only students enrolled in a university nearby can rent this property.

  3. Apartments / Condomonium / Multi-family house (Wohnung)

  4. Houses (Haus)

I have created three guides based on your current situation, i.e., student, single professional, and family.

Most things about renting a property in Germany remain the same, but a few changes depending on your professional and personal status.


2. Guide for students on how to find and rent a property in Germany

It is a 7 step process

  1. Find a property that fits your needs

  2. Contact the landlord

  3. Prepare your documents and visit the property

  4. Check and sign the rental contract

  5. Transfer the security deposit (Kaution) via bank transfer

  6. Get the key to the property and necessary documents from the landlord (Übergabeprotokol)

  7. Move into your new home

2.1 How to find a rental property in Germany?

Students generally prefer a furnished and cheaper place to rent. Hence, they typically look for a furnished shared apartment (WG) or a student apartment (Studentenwohnheim).

It can be very challenging to find one in time for the long term, especially in 6 major cities of Germany, i.e., Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Berlin, and Duesseldorf.

Thus, to make it easier, here are a few ways to find one.

2.1.1 Facebook groups

Every city has a group on Facebook created by expats living in that city. Similarly, students coming from abroad create a group based on their university.

You can find these groups by searching

  • expats in <city name>, eg: expats in Stuttgart

  • auslaender in <city name>, eg: auslaender in Stuttgart

  • foreigners in <city name>, eg: foreigners in Munich

  • <country name> in <city name>, eg. Americans in Berlin

  • <city name> international students

  • <university name> internaltion students

I think you get an idea. In these groups, members post a lot of valuable information. One of which is the advertisements for rooms for rent.

These rooms or apartments are available for the long term or a few months. Thus, don't be surprised when you see a post showing a room is available to rent for two months.

Due to the high demand for student rooms, you need to be quick on your feet. Set up alerts so that you get notified if anyone creates a new post. You must be the first few to reply to the advertisement to get your foot in the door.

Your message to the person advertising the room should be personal and sincere. I will share a few tips and a template you can use while sending a message in section 2.3.

2.1.2 WG Gesucht & WG Suche

WG gesucht is one of the best websites to look for a student apartment or room in Germany. Here you will typically find rooms for the long-term.

WG Suche is similar to WG gesucht and can be used to find shared apartments.

2.1.3 University websites

Universities know how tough it is to find a rental property in Germany, especially for foreigners. Thus, to help its international students, universities have a webpage or forum where students can find a room to rent.

For example, the University of Stuttgart has an "Accommodation for International Students" webpage.

Students can find links to other organizations, processes, help, etc., on this page to find a rental property.

I recommend checking the university's website or contacting your student coordinator for help in finding a room to rent.

2.1.4 Local Studentenwerke website

Studentenwerke is a state-run non-profit organization. They help students find accommodation and many other challenges a student faces.

Google "Studentenwerk <city name>" to find the local Studentenwerk.

💡 NOTE: Usually, there is a long waiting to rent a room or apartment listed on Studentenwerk. Thus, apply at least a semester or a year before.

2.1.5 Local newspaper

As per DESTATIS, Germany has an aging population, with 30% of the population aged above 60 years.

The older population of Germany still prefer using Local newspaper to post rental property advertisements. Thus, checking a local newspaper can often help you find a budget-friendly apartment or house to rent.

Here is a list of news portals in Germany.

2.1.6 eBay kleinanzeigen

eBay kleinanzeigen is a popular marketplace in Germany to buy and sell used products. People also use it actively to post advertisements for rooms or properties to rent.

2.1.7 Other websites you can use are




  • Wohnungsbö



2.1.8 Websites to find short-term furnished apartments

2.2 What does a typical student hostel or living in a shared apartment look like in Germany?

Builders construct student apartments keeping the students' needs in mind. Here are the typical characteristics of a student apartment.

  • The rent of these properties is cheaper than other apartments or houses.

  • The rooms have the basic furniture a student may need. Usually, it includes a single bed with a mattress, a table, and an almirah.

  • Student dorms have shared toilets and washrooms.

  • Students share the kitchen and the utensils.

  • Some accommodations even have a common area where you can eat, watch television, organize parties, or play games.

  • Most of the student apartments are coed.

  • One can access public transport in a few minutes on foot from these properties.

Keeping the room and the common areas clean is the students' responsibility. The housemaster may charge students a fine if they do not keep the common areas or their rooms clean.

In some buildings, housekeeping takes care of cleaning the toilet. In others, students have to clean it.

You will meet a lot of interesting people from all around the world. You will learn about different cultures, food, language and much more.

In short, life in a student dorm is exciting, and I recommend every international student experience it once.

2.3 How to contact the landlord/real estate agent/advertiser in Germany?

If the advertiser has provided their contact number, I recommend calling them. Else, write them a message.

Writing a message is an art. And the quality of the message will determine whether the landlord will reply or not.

As a landlord, I have seen many messages that are either one-liners or sound impolite. Do you want to know what happens to such messages? They go to the trash.

Thus, to avoid this from happening to you, here is what you should include while writing a message to the landlord.

2.4 What should you mention in your first message to the German landlord?

  • Introduce yourself. Tell them where you are from, how long you have been in Germany, what you do, your hobbies, etc.

  • Convince the landlord that you have money to pay rent, that you are friendly, and someone who will keep the property clean.

  • I would not share things like I have a pet or I smoke in my first message to the landlord.

  • In the end, finish the message with a request for an appointment to visit the property.

  • Try to write the message in the language used in the advertisement. If it is English, write in English. If it is German, write in German. Suppose your German is not so good. Use Google Translate or DeepL to convert your message from English to German.

Here is an example of a good message that will receive a reply from the landlord.

Hello Mr./Ms. ____________, I saw your advertisement on _______ . I am interested to rent the <room/apartment/house>. My name is ______. I am a master student in _______. I am working as a student at Bosch and earn 1300 € per month. I am from Austria and living in Stuttgart for 1 year now. I am single, quite, friendly guy who like to read and binge watch series. I am a non-smoker with no pets. Although my income is enough to cover the rent and my expenses. Still, my parents would be happy to act a guarantor, in case I am not able to pay the rent on time. Can you give me an appointment to visit your apartment. Feel free to call me or send me an email, if you need any other information. Looking forward to a positive reply. Regards, My Name +49-176-xxx xxx xx abc[at]

2.5 Preparing for the first visit and the documents to bring with you

You will need the following documents to rent a property in Germany.

  • Passport

  • Visa

  • University enrollment letter / ID card (For students only)

  • Blocked account: International students have to open a Blocked Account in Germany to prove that they can sustain their living expenses in Germany for at least one year.

  • Guarantor (Mietbürgschaft) (Optional): Someone who takes the responsibility to pay the rent if you cannot pay it.

  • Letter from the previous landlord (Mietkostenfreiheitsbescheinigung) (Optional): Sometimes, landlords may ask for a letter from your last landlord to know if you have any pending debt or unpaid rent.

  • Income proof: You must prove that you can pay rent on time. To do so, you can show a job contract, along with the past three months' salary slips. You can also show your bank account statements or blocked account as mentioned above. A guarantor and a blocked account come in handy if you do not have a job.

  • SCHUFA record (Optional): As per Wikipedia, SCHUFA is a private German company that performs credit checks on individuals and companies. The SCHUFA records help creditors evaluate a potential client's credit profile. You can order a SCHUFA certificate from ""

  • Personal/private liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung): This insurance is not mandatory but highly recommended for everyone in Germany. It protects the insurer if the insured person causes damage to a third party. Some landlords demand it, and some do not. Nevertheless, it is good to have and covers you beyond a rental

On my first visit, I would take all my documents with me. If I like the property after my visit, I will show the documents to the landlord.

In the end, you need to understand the landlord's perspective. No one wants to rent their property to someone who cannot pay rent on time or seems loud and untidy.

Thus, dress appropriately and bring all the necessary documents to your first visit. It reflects well on your character and sets you apart from others.

2.6 Check and sign the rental contract

Before signing the rental contract, understand its terms and conditions. I have explained different sections of a typical rental contract in section 8.4 of this guide.

2.7 Transfer the security deposit (Kaution) via bank transfer

Once you have signed the contract, it's time to transfer the security and the first month's rent to the landlord.

⚠️ WARNING: There are a lot of scammers who will ask you to pay in cash or send money via means other than a bank transfer, eg: WesternUnion. Beware of such scams and always transfer money via bank transfer.

2.8 Get the keys and the documents required to register at the local town hall

Congratulations, you have found a place you can call home. The next step is to get the keys to the property from the landlord.

In Germany, the process of getting keys is called Schlüsselübergabeprotokoll or Übergabeprotokoll. In this process, you meet the landlord on-site and do the following.

  • The landlord handovers the keys.

  • You get a property tour, where you inspect the property with the landlord to find and document any known or visible problems.

  • The landlord will record the readings of the electric, water, heating, and gas meters.

  • You can ask questions to the landlord about the neighbors or the essential places nearby.

  • You will also get a document (Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung) from the landlord stating that you live in this apartment/house. You need this document to register at the local town hall (Rathaus). In Germany, every resident must register in the local city hall within 2 weeks of moving to a new city or house.

In some situations, you do not or could not meet the landlord on-site. In such a scenario, the landlord puts the keys to the room or the property in the post box.

You can collect the keys and inspect the property yourself. However, it is essential that you report any visible problems to the landlord in writing within 48 hours or as mentioned in your contract.

Lastly, the landlord can send you the Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung via email or post.

So, this is the last step in your journey to find a rental property in Germany. After this step, all you need to do is to move in.


3. Guide for single professionals to rent a property in Germany

Many single professionals prefer living in shared accommodation to save on the rent. But, the good news is, as a working professional finding a rental property is much easier than as a student.

The whole process of finding and renting an apartment is the same as described above. The only difference comes in the message you write to the landlord.

Here is an example of a good message.

Hello Mr./Ms. <Name of the Landlord>, I saw your advertisement on _______ . I am interested to rent the <room/apartment/house>. My name is ______. I am working as a Product Manager at IBM for 5 Years and have a regular income of 4300 €. I was living in Munich for 5 years and now moving to Stuttgart to support the new team in IBM. I am a quite, friendly person who like to travel and read. I have no pets and do not smoke. Your apartment fits my needs perfectly. Can you give me an appointment to visit it. I would be happy to share more information about me on our visit. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Regards, ________ +49-176-xxx xxx xx abc[at]


4. Guide for families to rent a property in Germany

The number of houses for families to rent is limited in number. But the good news is that some landlords prefer renting to a family.

The reason is that families stay longer and maintain the property better than a bachelor or a student. Thus, landlords who do not want to search for a new tenant every other year prefer renting to a family.

As the family lives longer on the property, the screening process of picking a family is also thorough.

Again, the process of finding and renting a house remains the same. The only difference is that you may also need your wife's documents.


5. What does a rental contract look like in Germany?

A rental contract has the following sections:

  • Personal information of both parties

  • Rental property details like address

  • Duration of the rental contract

  • How to cancel the rental contract

  • Rent details

  • How will the rent increase over time?

  • What is part of the utility costs?

  • By when and where to pay the rent?

  • What is the security deposit (Kaution)

  • Liability of the landlord, use of the property, subletting, house rules, and pet policy

  • Maintenance obligations of the rental property

  • Who can inspect the rented property, and under what circumstances?

  • What changes a tenant can make inside and outside the rental property

  • Renovation/cosmetic repairs of the rented property

  • Under what circumstances the landlord can terminate the tenancy

  • House rules of the rental property building

  • Obligation to register in the local city hall (Rathaus)

  • Privacy Policy/Data protection information (Datenschutzhinweise)

  • Energy efficiency certificate

You can learn more about the rental contract in Germany here.


6. How to find a rental property in Germany from abroad

It can be challenging to find an apartment if you are not in Germany or in the city you are looking for a rental property. One way to solve it is to rent a furnished short-term apartment.

They are comparatively expensive but save you a lot of time and stress. And once you are in Germany, you can continue your search.

But, you need to be patient, as finding a rental property in Germany can take several days to several months, depending on the time of the year and the city.

Here is the list of websites where you can find short-term furnished apartments.

One thing I like about these websites is the option to book a property online. It protects you from scammers that you may find on other portals.


7. Common mistakes foreigners make while living in a rented property in Germany

Every country has a different culture, beliefs, and way of living. Germany is no different. Hence, knowing how the Germans live can make your journey to settle in Germany much easier.

Here are the common mistakes expats make:

  1. Not ventilating the rented property properly in summers and winters

  2. Not taking good private liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) to protect yourself in case of accidentally damaging the rented property in Germany.

  3. Drying clothes inside the house results in the fungus growth

  4. Raising the room temperature higher than 25 degrees Celsius. Hence, damaging the wallpaper.

  5. Keeping windows open while the heater is on

  6. Not taking care of the rented property

  7. Either not aware of or do not take the House Rules seriously

  8. Not separating the garbage properly

  9. Not keeping the common areas clean

  10. Not paying the mandatory ARD radio tax, as you don't own or listen to a radio.

  11. Drilling holes in the walls or ceilings without taking care of the wires or pipes inside the wall

Learn more about how to fix or avoid these mistakes here.


8. Documents you will need/get from the landlord in Germany

You will get the following documents from your landlord.

8.1 Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung

The landlord issues this document stating that you live in the rented property. You will need this document to register at your local town hall (Rathaus).

In Germany, everyone must register at their town hall (Rathaus) within 14 days.

Why does my landlord refuse to provide me with Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung?

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

This usually occurs when a tenant is subletting the property without approval from the landlord.

What will happen if I do not have a Wohnungsgeberbeschinigung?

First, if the landlord knows that more than allowed people are living on the property, he may ask you to vacate the property.

Second, if it's your first time in Germany, you need an address to register. Because at this registered address, you will receive the documents like tax id, health insurance, social insurance number, etc. from the local authorities.

Thus, you won't receive these essential documents if you don't register at the local town hall.

What can I do if I do not have Wohnungsgeberbeschinigung?

You can communicate your current situation to your previous landlord. Assuming you had one and used that address to register at the local town hall.

You can request your last landlord to continue using the old address for registration.

Landlords are aware of this situation and, most of the time, are willing to help. But, suppose it's your first time in Germany, then you can do the following.

  • Rent short-term accommodation. It might be expensive, but it will solve your short-term problem.

  • If you have a friend or relative living in Germany, you can request them to allow you to use their address for registration. Of course, they must live in the area you want to register.

  • You can inform your local town hall (Rathaus) that you do not have a Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung. It is because you are still looking for a place. Local authorities are aware of the housing situation and may understand your problem.

  • Some people allow you to use their address for registration in return for money. I will not recommend using this option. But, it exists in some places.

When will you get this document?

The landlord must provide this letter before the tenant moves into the property.

8.2 Handover Protocol (Übergabeprotokol)

It is a document where the landlord and the tenant record the property's condition before the tenant moves in.

You can record the following information in this document.

  • Which rooms' keys and how many are given by the landlord to the tenant.

  • Are there any cracks in the wall?

  • Is the gas boiler working as expected?

  • Are the windows and the blinds working?

In short, inspect the property thoroughly and document all your findings.

Why does Handover protocol (Übergabeprotokol) exist?

Both landlord and tenant need to record the property's current condition to avoid future conflicts.

Handover protocol saves both landlord and tenant the headaches later.

Just imagine how you will prove that something was not working or damaged when you rented the property if you do not document it beforehand. The same goes for the landlord.

Moreover, this document has probative value in court. Thus, the court will consider this document as proof if it comes to the worst-case scenario.

Hence, the Handover protocol (Übergabeprotokol) is a crucial document you should have before moving into a rented property.

When will you get this document?

You will get this document before moving into the property.

8.3 Yearly invoice for additional costs (Nebenkostenabrechnung)

In Germany, the landlord has to provide a yearly statement to the tenant. The document contains the property's operational charges.

In Germany, all tenants pay these operational charges (Nebenkosten) in advance. Thus, the landlord must create and provide this yearly statement to confirm the actual costs.

The landlord would reimburse the difference if the tenant paid more than the actual costs. Similarly, if the tenant paid less, then (s)he gets the invoice from the landlord.

What costs are part of Nebenkostenabrechnung?

The landlord cannot transfer all the costs to operate and maintain the property to the tenant. The expenses that the landlord can transfer are called umlagefähigkosten in German.

The following expenses comes under umlagefähigkosten:

  • Property tax (Grundsteuer)

  • Warm water and heating costs (Warmwasser und Heizkosten)

  • Water and Sewage charges (Wasser- und Abwassergebühren)

  • Elevator costs (Aufzug)

  • Garbage disposal and street cleaning (Müllabfuhr und Straßenreinigung)

  • Cleaning of common areas like stairs, cycle room, etc. (Hausreinigung)

  • Maintainence of garden (Gartenpflege)

  • House Master's salary (Hausmeister)

  • Electricity costs for lighting common areas (Beleuchtung)

  • Costs of cleaning the chimney (Schornsteinfeger)

  • Insurances like property building insurance (Versicherungen)

  • Smoke alarm (Rauchmelder)

  • Other costs Sonstige Betriebskosten/Nebenkosten

8.4 Rental contract

I have already detailed what a typical rental contract looks like in section 5. The landlord may add further clauses depending on the property.

💡 NOTE: Many times people sublet their room or apartment for a few months to others without a contract. It is very common among international students. During holidays, students go back to their hometown and sublet their rooms for a month or two without a rental contract.


In the end

Be patient and start looking for a rental property on various websites and groups. Yes, it is difficult to find a nice place to rent. But it's not impossible.

So, keep looking and be cautious of scammers. I wish you all the best in finding a rental property in Germany.

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