Finding a Rental Property

How to go about finding a house or apartment to rent in Germany...

The three most popular ways to find flats and houses to rent are directly through the owner, through agencies or through housing associations.

Apartments are advertised by owners in the classified section of daily newspapers, and in special supplements in the weekend editions. There also are specialist real estate magazines as well as dedicated websites. Most daily newspapers offer real estate sections on their websites. Some of the most useful websites for finding houses and apartments to rent are:

Real estate agencies (Makler or Immobilienmakler) are private companies that deal in renting or selling properties. Agencies can act as a mediator between landlord and tenant, as well as provide expert advice about the local area and the laws surrounding rental leases. Most of these companies charge a fee (Maklergebühr) of up to two months' rent plus VAT, which is due once a contract has been signed. Some agencies operate completely online, such as immonet.de, while others have offices based in the area . The yellow pages list a range of agencies in the local area.

Housing cooperatives (Wohnungsbaugenossenschaften) are associations which provide their members with good value accommodation. The legal situation regarding the leasing of accommodation only differs slightly from that of a normal lease. This is mainly due to the cooperative’s principle of equal treatment (Gleichbehandlungsgrundsatz) which means, for example, when the rent is raised it can only be raised to the same extent as the neighbours’ rent. The Wohnungsbaugenosschaften website has more information of housing cooperatives. They also have a map with links to all their members and affiliated cooperatives across the country.

Shared accommodation (Wohngemeinschaften) is another form of renting, and rather popular in Germany. There are several websites dedicated to advertising shared accommodation. These tend to be current tenants searching for roommates. They often have specific requirements about who they are looking for so it is important to read the specification before applying. Some useful websites include:

When searching for a property to rent, many sources use abbreviations for certain apartment characteristics:

Abbreviation German English meaning
AB Altbau Old building pre-1945
BK Balkon Balcony
KM Kaltmiete Cold rent (basic rent only with no additional costs included)
WM Warmmiete Warm rent (includes additional costs such as water, property tax, chimney sweeping, street cleaning and waste disposal services)
NK Nebenkosten Extra costs
BZ Badezimmer Bathroom
ZH/GH/EH (Zentral-/Gaz-/Etageheizung) Central, gas and floor heating

Further Information