Gauss-Telegraph: How To… Look for Housing

Gauss-Telegraph: How To… Look for Housing

von Hui Lin Kong

The first step to setting in a new place begins with finding the right house or apartment. If you are studying, looking for a job or working in Germany, renting a room can be a great way to save some money.

Types of housing in Germany

  • Apartment
  • Flatshare (Wohngemeinschaft or WG)
  • Landlord Hosting
  • Student Housing

Approaches to find a place to live

  1. Real estate agent

The law regarding the payment of fee to the real estate agent is always changing. Make sure you check how the agent’s fee are to be paid before signing any agreement with the property owner.

  1. Social media

Other than relentlessly calling the agent every day, you can search for local housing groups on Facebook, Instagram etc.

  1. Housing websites

There are a vast variety of online websites where the landlord or independent property holders use to post their listings:

  1. Student dorms

A Studierendenwerk is responsible for social services at the respective university location and deals with the social, cultural and economic affairs of students. There is a total of 57 Student Services Organizations nationwide, which manage dormitories in over 200 cities. You can find out which organization is responsible for your location on the website of the Deutsches Studentenwerk.

The Studentenwerk OstNiedersachsen is responsible for Braunschweig, among other cities. In addition to the dormitories, they have numerous services such as social counseling and psychotherapeutic counseling.

The advantage of student dorms is that you often don’t have to worry about contracts with electricity, gas or internet providers. In addition, the whole process is relatively unbureaucratic.

  1. Student associations

In addition to subsidized student dorms, there a lot of associations in Germany that are only for students. This kind of accommodation offers a great way to meet fellow students.

Get informed

Be cautious and clear about what is and isn’t included in your rent, especially if you are renting privately. Before a flat viewing appointment, you should know the following:

  • The means of transportation in the surroundings
  • Total rent
  • Water, electricity, gas (included or not included)
  • How many total square meters?

The answers to these questions can be flexible and they serve as filters for your search.

Prepare your documents, for example:

  • Passport
  • Proof of income
  • Bank statement
  • Copy of Schufa
  • Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung (a signed document from your previous landloard confirming that you have paid your rent in full and on time)

 Important sidenotes concerning living in German rented apartments

  • Trash should be separated in a number of ways, for example one trash container for metal and plastic, one for paper, one for green, brown and white glasses etc. (On this article, you can find out how the trash separation system works).
  • To get rid of bulky items such as furniture, you should contact a Waste disposal company.
  • Avoid loud noises from 10.00 p.m. to 7:00a.m. Unless you want to get fined by the police.
  • No smoking laws. Usually you are not allowed to smoke inside the apartment, if you really need to, do it at the balcony.
  • Always ask for your landlord’s permission before getting any pets.

Reviewing your contract

Once you receive the rental contract, be sure to review the document before signing, preferably with a German speaker. Certain points to read through beforehand:

  • Total rent
  • Period of tenancy
  • Deposit
  • House rules
  • Potential gradual increase in rent price
  • Transfer protocol

Mass apartment visits are the rules to universities towns or big cities like Berlin, Hamburg and München after reaching out to the landlord. It is one of experiences that we all need to endure, it can be as easy or as challenging as you make it. Hence it is important to be well prepared. Good luck to all the newcomers!

Don´t forget to register your new address at the Registration Office within 14 days after moving-in! 

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