Student Accommodation in Germany: 7 Steps To Successfully Rent a Property in Germany
Whether you are an international or an Erasmus student, this guide covers everything you need to know about renting in Germany.
Students can use Facebook groups, websites specific for finding student accommodation, university websites, etc., to find a rental property.
Never send a one-line message to the landlord requesting an apartment visit appointment. Instead, tell the landlord about yourself and why should (s)he rent you the room.
Prepare the documents and bring them to your visit to the rental property. It leaves a good impression on the landlord and increases your chances of getting the apartment.
Competition to find a student accommodation is high. Hence, you have to be quick on your feet.
Read and understand the terms and conditions of the rental contract before signing it. The landlord can terminate your rental agreement if you do not comply with the contract's terms.
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
Renting an apartment in Germany is a 7 step process.
Finally, move into your rented property
Step 1: Finding 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.
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> international 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 2 months.
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.
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. Here students can find links to other organizations, processes, help, etc., to find a rental property.
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.
5. Local newspaper
The older population of Germany still prefer using Local newspaper to post advertisements for property to rent. Thus, checking a local newspaper can often help you find a great budget-friendly apartment or house to rent.
Here is a list of news portals in Germany.
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.
7. Other websites you can use are
8. Websites to find short-term furnished apartments
Step 2: How to contact the landlord in Germany?
If the advertiser has provided their contact number, I recommend calling them. Else, write them a message.
Due to the high demand for student rooms, you need to be quick on your feet. Therefore, I recommend setting up alerts. This way, the platform notifies you when someone creates a new post.
You must be the first few to reply to the post to get your foot in the door. Moreover, your message to the person advertising the room should be personal and sincere.
As a landlord, I have seen many messages that are either one-liners or sound impolite. Such messages go to the trash.
Thus, consider the following tips while writing a message to the landlord to ensure it doesn't happen to you.
What should you mention in your first message to the landlord?
Introduce yourself. Tell the landlord 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 the rent, 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.
⚠️ WARNING: There are many cases of identity theft in Germany. Hence, never share your personal documents before meeting the landlord in person. You can show the documents to the landlord on your first visit.
Message template you can use to increase your chances of getting 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 as 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]gmail.com
Step 3: Documents to bring on your first visit to the rental property
As a foreigner, finding a rental property in Germany could be challenging. So, I will bring all the documents that may increase my chances of getting one.
Here is the list of documents a landlord may request from the tenant in Germany.
University enrollment letter / ID card (Optional)
Blocked account (Optional): International students have to open a Blocked Account in Germany to prove that they can sustain their living expenses in Germany for at least 1 year.
Guarantor (Mietbürgschaft) (Optional): Someone who takes the responsibility to pay the rent if you cannot.
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 3 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 "meinschufa.de."
Personal/private liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) (Optional): This insurance protects the insurer in the event the insured person causes damage to a third party. Some landlords demand it, and some do not. Nevertheless, it is good to have.
On my first visit, I would take all my documents with me. If I like the property after my visit, I will offer to show my documents to the landlord.
Understanding the landlord's perspective
No one wants to rent their property to someone who cannot pay rent on time or seems loud and untidy.
The only way for a landlord to judge you is from
The message you wrote
The way you communicate on your first visit
Whether you show on time or not
The way you dress. Hence, wear something appropriate to a house visit.
Documents you bring on your first visit, etc.
So, be polite and friendly, dress appropriately, and bring all the necessary documents to your first visit. It reflects well on your character and sets you apart from others.
Step 4: Check and sign the rental contract
Before signing the rental contract, understand its terms and conditions. Here are a few essential things you should know.
1. Personal information of both parties
This section contains the full names, addresses, dates of birth, and contact information of all the tenants and landlords.
2. Rental property details
Here you will find
The address of the property
Portions of the property rented to you. For example, garden, parking space, etc.
Number of keys given to the tenant
Furniture, fitted kitchen, etc., rented along with the property.
3. Duration of the rental contract
It states when the tenancy starts and ends.
Usually, the rental contracts in Germany are valid for an indefinite period. But, the landlord or the tenant can draft a fixed-term contract.
4. How to cancel the rental contract
It mentions how a tenant and the landlord can cancel the rental contract.
Typically, the tenant can cancel the contract by giving a 3 months notice in writing to the landlord without giving a reason. On the other hand, the landlord cannot cancel the rental agreement without a strong reason.
5. Rent details
This section contains the following.
In Germany, there are two types of rent; cold rent (Kaltmiete) and warm rent (Warmmiete).
Cold rent is the property's rent, excluding utility costs, parking, furniture, or anything else. Warm rent is the total rent the tenant must pay, including all the charges.
It may look like the following:
Installed kitchen and furniture rent
Utility cost (Betriebskosten)
How will the rent be increased over time?
There are two ways landlords can increase the rent in Germany.
Index rent (Indexmiete): In Indexmiete, the rent increases as the living expenses or inflation in Germany increases. <show an image of the formula with example>
Graduated rent (Staffelmiete): In Staffelmiete, the rent will increase gradually over time. The landlord mentions in the contract when and by how much the rent will increase.
What do the utility costs include?
It generally includes the following:
Housemaster's salary, if any
Cleaning of the common areas and snow in winters (Winterdienst)
Rainwater fee: A fee to process the rainwater from your property
Garden maintenance, if any
Heating, if the building has central heating
Television or internet cable costs
Electricity costs of the common areas
Elevator costs, if any
It may include other costs, but these are the most common.
By when and where to pay the rent?
The section includes the bank details of the landlord or the housing company. It also mentions by what date of the month tenant has to pay the rent.
6. Security deposit (Kaution)
In this section, you can find the amount tenant has to pay as a security deposit to the landlord.
It also mentions when the tenant will get the security back after ending the rental agreement. The period is usually 3 months.
⚠️ WARNING: Many landlords do not return the security within 3 months in a hope that the expat may return to their homeland and forget about it. It is both illegal and unethical. If you find yourself in this situation, send a written complaint to the landlord and contact a tenants union (Mieterverein) for help.
7. Maintenance obligations of the rental property
Here you can find the following details:
Who pays for the damage caused by the negligence or fault of the tenant or their guests. Usually, it is the tenant who has to bear the costs. Thus, having private liability insurance comes in handy in such situations.
Who is responsible for paying the annual maintenance of heaters, boilers, etc.
8. Renovation/cosmetic repairs of the rented property
The tenant is responsible for returning the property in the state (s)he got it. Thus, if the tenant moves into a renovated property, they must return it in the same stand.
So, if cosmetic repairs are necessary, the tenant will do them before handing over the property. Cosmetic repairs include painting the walls and the ceilings, painting or varnishing the doors, windows, etc.
9. House rules of the rental property building
Every apartment building (Mehrfamilienhaus) has house rules, which everyone living in the building has to follow.
Here are some rules you may find in this section:
Day and time after which you cannot make loud noises.
The time when the central boilers will be switched on.
Who is responsible for cleaning the snow during winters.
How to separate the garbage, etc.
⚠️ WARNING: Landlord has the right to terminate your rental agreement if you do not follow the house rules and other residents of the building files a complaint.
People in Germany take storage and use of personal data seriously. Hence, you will find this section in any type of contract you sign in Germany.
This section outlines how the landlord will store and use the tenant's data.
In this guide, you can learn more about a typical rental contract in Germany.
Step 5: Transfer the security deposit (Kaution) via bank transfer
Once you have signed the rental contract, it's time to transfer the security and 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.
Step 6: Get the property 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 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).
💡 NOTE: In Germany, every resident has to register themselves in the local city hall within 2 weeks from when they move 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 put the keys to the room or the property in the post box.
You can collect the keys and inspect the property yourself. However, you must 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.
Illegal practices you may encounter while searching a rental property in Germany
1. The landlord drafting a fixed-term lease instead of an indefinite period lease
According to German law, a landlord needs a strong reason to draft a limited-time contract. But, because of the huge gap between demand and supply, landlords take advantage of this situation.
2. Landlord refuses to provide Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung
This usually occurs when a tenant is subletting the property without approval from the landlord. Unfortunately, there is nothing much you can do about it.
3. Landlord does not return the security deposit (Kaution) on time
If you find yourself in this situation, send a written complaint to the landlord and contact a tenants union (Mieterverein) for help.
4. Buying the furniture as a precondition to rent the property
Many previous tenants handing over a rental property make buying the furniture or kitchen a precondition. Again, it is because of the gap between supply and demand.
5. Landlord deducts invalid charges from the security deposit
Sometimes, landlords invent expenses that do not exist and deduct them from the security. It is illegal, and you can claim against it.
These are a few things you may encounter while searching for a rental property in Germany. Here are things you can do to protect yourself.
Common scams you should be aware of while looking for a rental property in Germany
The landlord lives in another country, hence cannot show you the apartment in person.
The scammer sends you the keys to the apartment via post before you deposit rental security.
The landlord does not meet you or talk to you on the phone.
The landlord shows you a property that is not theirs.
The landlord asks for money to visit the apartment.
Fake rental property advertisements to collect personal data.
The rental property is too good to be true.
You can read more about the rental property scams in Germany and how to protect yourself here.
Obligation to register in the local city hall (Rathaus) in Germany
In Germany, every resident has to register themselves in the local city hall. They have to do it within 2 weeks of moving to a new city or house.
After registering, you will get your health insurance card, income tax, social security number, and other essential documents.
To register, you need the following documents:
Residence card (Visa)
Certificate from your landlord stating that you live at this address (Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung).
Many times people sublet their room or apartment without a contract or Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung. It is very common among students during holidays. Students sublet their apartments before going to their hometowns during the holidays. Normally, they are not allowed to sublet their apartment. Hence, they do so without a rental contract.
In this situation, you cannot use this address to register in the local town hall (Rathaus).