How can find an electricity provider?

In principle, the electricity is not included in the rent, so you have to pay for it separately. You have to be careful when you register with an electricity supplier company - It is worth to research, compare different offers and find the best rate. Tariff calculators provided by websites such as Check24  can be very helpful in finding the best option. You can find a company and directly register on their webpage. When you register, the electricity company will ask you for the apartment's current power meter reading. You can find power meter reading on the handover protocol which you have received from the landlord or property manager at the start of your rental contract.

If you use gas for cooking or heating, you may also need to register with a gas supplier company. Your landlord can provide you with more information in this regard.  Like electricity, you can compare the prices and register online at the gas providers' website. Visit Check24 to check different gas provider companies' tariffs.

Please note: Your electricity supplier company (and possibly also your gas supplier company) will deduct a fixed amount from your account on a monthly basis. The amount of this payment is calculated based on the company's estimation of your sum of use. Once a year, your actual electricity consumption is checked, and then you either will be reimbursed or have to pay some extra money. What you pay at the end of the year depends on the extent to which your consumption exceeded the company's initial estimations. Your electricity supplier company will contact you at the end of the year and ask for your current power meter reading to check your actual amount of use.

Why do I have to pay broadcasting fees?

Every tenant will eventually receive a letter from the ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Contributions' Department which demands you to pay 17.50 per month as broadcasting fees. These contributions are used to finance the public broadcasters (ARD, ZDF, 3Sat, Arte, Kika, Deutschlandradio, ...). Every flat-owner or tenant is obliged to pay these fees - even if he does not have TV or radio at home. You can grant the broadcasting company a SEPA direct debit authorisation- so that the broadcasting fees can be deducted directly from your account every month.

Please note: If you receive benefits from the Social Welfare Office or the Job Center or has been granted BAföG or BAB, you may be exempted from paying the broadcasting fees. You must file a request for exemption along with a confirmation letter from the relevant authority. In case of problems, you can contact the Consumers' Center and seek advice.

Where can I find affordable furniture and household items?

In Germany, there are many different furniture stores, each of which with different price ranges. In addition, there are so-called Social Department Stores ("Sozialkaufhäuser") in many cities where people can buy furniture, household items and other goods within small budgets. On the Yellow Pages website, you can search for a Social Department Store in your area. Furthermore, you can also find inexpensive or free items in flea markets. You can also search ebay kleinanzeigen or many donations- or sales groups on Facebook for the goods you need.

How can I save heating costs and avoid mould?

Indoor mould can harm your health- and when it grows, removing it is quite tricky. In principle, the landlord is responsible for the removal of mould and covering the relevant costs. However, this only applies if the tenant has not caused the mould by improper heating and lack of ventilation. Many tenants try to heat the flat as little as possible and ventilate regularly- they may, for example, turn the heatings off -even in the cold seasons- when they are not at home. However, such an approach not only causes the formation of mould but also leads to higher heating costs, since re-heating a cold room drains more energy. When ventilating it is crucial to open the windows entirely for about 5 to 10 minutes instead of only tilt opening them- a tilted window does not let enough fresh air in the apartment. You should ventilate the entire apartment at least 3-4 times a day. It is important to ventilate immediately after showering, cooking or drying laundry indoors.

Furthermore, make sure to turn off the heating briefly during ventilation. Otherwise, you waste a lot of energy for which you have to pay. You will find more information about the best ways of heating and ventilation on this leaflet.

Please note: In all-inclusive contracts, the heating costs are included in the rent. Once a year, your heating energy consumption will be checked. If you have used more than expected, you pay the remnants at the end of the year. When you have used up less heating energy, you will be reimbursed. To verify your actual consumption, your landlord will usually hire a company which will arrange an appointment to come and check your amount of use on your radiators. If you feel any inaccuracies in billing, you can contact the Consumers' Center to seek advice.

 

 

Something is broken in my apartment - what can I do?

When, for instance, your heating system is not working or there is water damage in your apartment, you must immediately inform your landlord or the property management. You will usually find the contact details on your rental agreement or other documents that you have been handed when moving in. In many residences, you can also find this information on a bulletin board at the house entrance. You can notify the landlord or the property management via phone or in writing. In principle, the property manager then sends a technician over to inspect the damage and repair it either right away or later. Usually, the landlord pays the respective costs. If the landlord or property manager does not respond or refuse to fix the damage, you must contact the Consumers' Center or a tenants’ protection associations ("Mietschutzverein"). In principle, the landlord is obliged to repair damages- and a counselling centre can help you claim your right. Most tenant’s protection associations require you to become a member before you can seek advice and assistance. As a member, you have to pay a small annual membership fee. Here you can find a tenants’ protection association in your area.

Which rules do I have to consider?

In general, people in Germany often prefer to live in peace. So loud music, noisy parties and alike can lead to difficulties and disputes between people who live in the same building. Disturbing the neighbours by making too much noise is called “Ruhestörung” (breach of the peace) in Germany. To avoid any trouble, make sure you respect the noon and night quiet hours (“Mittags- und Nachtruhe”), room volume level (“Zimmerlautstärke”) and Sunday resting hours (“Sonntagsruhe”), which are often specified in rental contracts or house rules. If you repeatedly violate the house rules, your landlord may terminate the rental contract. From a legal perspective, noise disturbance is regarded as an administrative offence punishable by a fine. However, the exact number of offences which can lead to a fine is not stipulated in the law. But there may be local resting hours (decided by the communities) to which you have to adhere. To avoid difficulties with your neighbours, it is also advisable to respects the rules concerning the disposal of garbage. You can learn more about waste disposal and recycling in our chapter "Waste separation". Furthermore, you should also observe the rules set out in your rental agreement regarding pets and, in general, animals. Read more about this in our chapter "Pets".

How can I terminate my contract?

As a tenant, you can always terminate an indefinite rental contract by informing your landlord in writing three months ahead ("Kündigungsfrist"). The cancellation letter must reach the landlord no later than the third working day of a month, for the corresponding month to be counted. In some cases, the notice period may be shorter. The cancellation period depends on what you have agreed on in your contract. You can prepare a cancellation letter ("Kundigungsschreiben") on Immobilienscout24.

 for free.

Please note: If you have a fixed-term contract, i.e. have agreed with your landlord on a fixed rental period, you cannot usually terminate the contract before it expires. However, many fixed-term leases are not legally binding. In such cases, you can cancel your lease within the statutory notice period of three months. Contact the Consumer's Centre ("Verbraucherzenterale") or a tenants’ protection association to check whether your temporary lease is legally valid or not. Most tenants’ protection associations require you to become a member before you can seek advice. As a member, you have to pay a small annual membership fee. Find a tenants’ protection association in your area to seek assistance.

My rental contract is terminated - what can I do?

Tenants are well protected in Germany, so your landlord needs a good reason to cancel your lease. Cancellation by the landlord is possible under the following circumstances:

If your landlord terminates your lease, contact a tenants’ protection association and seek advice. Many landlord-initiated cancellations are not in accordance with the law, so you can counter them by legal means. You can contact the Consumer's Center or join a tenants’ protection association for more support. You usually have to become a member of a tenants’ protection associations and pay an annual membership fee (about 50 €) to receive a comprehensive consultation and legal assistance when needed. Find a tenants’ protection association in your area to consult.