Types of Rental Agreement

Understand what to expect from the different types of rental agreement available in Germany...

Rent (Miete) is the amount paid by the tenant (Mieter) to the landlord (Vermieter) every month. Most landlords require the rent to be paid by standing order or by monthly bank transfer (Überweisung).

There are different types of rents:

  • Bruttomiete, Bruttowarm or Brutto Inklusiv: Where all the running costs and heating costs are included in the in the rent.
  • Bruttokaltmiete: Running costs are included in the rent, but heating costs are not.
  • Teilinklusiv: When some, but not all, of the running costs are included in the rent.
  • Nettokaltmiete: This is the most common form of rent. It is the rent quoted without any running costs or heating costs.

Gas, electricity and telephone bills do not come under running costs and must therefore be paid separately.

Both electricity and gas utility companies offer advice on how to reduce energy consumption and thereby decrease additional costs.

The Society for Rational Energy Use (Gesellschaft für rationelle Energieverwendung) gives free advice on energy saving, solar technology and heat insulation.

Additional costs (Nebenkosten) may also be quoted separately to the rent. These can include the following:

  • Collective heating and hot water supply (gas is normally extra)
  • Operational costs (rubbish disposal, house and street cleaning and so on)
  • Furniture and sublet supplements
  • Charges for additional housing spaces for other purposes

It is important to lay out the exact terms of rent and additional costs clearly with the landlord before signing the lease to avoid any legal confusion during the tenancy.

While standard leases tend to be between one tenant and the landlord and last for an indefinite amount of time, other forms of leases do exist.

Temporary leases (Zeitmietverträge)

In these agreements the end date of the lease is stated from the beginning of the tenancy and at the end of the lease the tenants must move out of the property. Unlike normal leases, termination without notice (fristlose Kündigung) is possible in temporary leases.

Leases for shared accommodation (Wohngemeinschaften)

Shared accommodation is more common in Germany than in most other countries. Students in particular often live in shared accommodation as it is a great way to save money by sharing the rent. There are several types of tenancy agreements within the practice of sharing accommodation. One is to have a head tenant (Hauptmieter) who signs the lease with the landlord, and subtenants who sign a sublease with the head tenant. It is also possible to make several or all of the tenants head tenants so that everyone has the same obligations to the landlord. Alternatively each tenant can have a separate lease for their own rooms.