Renting an apartment


There are some necessary documents to put in a valid application for an apartment. Before making any application, prepare the following documents:

  • Bewerbungsbogen - it’s the application form. The landlord/real estate agency will provide you with this document (some will send it over email to you, after you schedule the visit to the apartment)
  • Last three payslip or the employment agreement (or other document), that can prove your monthly income
  • Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung [1] - it’s the document that proves you don’t have any debt with your previous landlord
  • ID - Identification Document - the passport with the visa
  • SCHUFA - it’s a document that proves you have no unpaid debts and gives you a trustworthiness score. You can get a SCHUFA for free, but if you need it now, you can get one from Postbank and Volksbank branches.
  • Amtliche Meldebestätigung für die Anmeldung - it’s the confirmation of your residence registration. It's also called the Meldebescheinigung.
  • Some landlords/real estate agencies will require the residency visa or a proof that will get an insurance to protect you in case of any accidents in the apartment

[1] If you don’t have this document, try to use another proof that you don’t have any debt (translated to German), or try to explain the situation, saying that you just arrived in Germany and this would be your first rent in the city.

Be careful! Never transfer money to a potential landlord/real estate agency before signing the rental agreement. Many people are victims of malicious acts - it’s not an unusual thing to happen.

  • Long term rents will usually require you to make a security deposit after signing the rental agreement/contract (Kaution in German). This will represent 3 times the amount of the “cold rent”, that can be paid in three times with the first three months of rent. This amount will be given back to you when the contract ends.
  • When looking for an apartment, you might encounter the words "Kaltmiete" and "Warmmiete". It’s important to understand the difference between them, so you know how much you’ll end up paying. Kaltmiete means the “cold rent” - it’s just the cost of the rent itself and doesn’t include extra costs, like heating or cleaning fees. Warmmiete means the “hot rent” - this one includes the extra costs. Make sure you check in advance what exactly is included in the “hot rent”. Usually the “hot rent” is 20% of the “cold rent” amount.
  • The word Zimmer represents the number of rooms in the apartment (bathroom, kitchen and balconies are not included). For example, an apartment with 3 zimmers will probably be 2 bedrooms and a living room.
  • The following questions could help you to better pick an apartment during your search:
    • Is it furnished or does it have all the kitchen appliances?
    • Are pets allowed?
    • Do you know/like the neighborhood?
    • Is there a garage/storage room for bikes and other objects (Keller)?
    • Is the heating via gas, electrical, oil or charcoal? Electrical heatings are usually less effective.j
    • What is the energy efficiency of the apartment? This info can be found in the apartment description.
    • How much is the security deposit?
    • Are there supermarkets and stores close by?
    • How close and easy to access is the public transportation? Where can you get from the apartment using the public transportation?

Where to look

The most known website to search for an apartment is ImmobilienScout24. Even though it’s available only in German, you can always use Google Translate. You can search by district, number of rooms or price. Another interesting functionality is when you’re logged in, it’s possible to check the average euros per m2 in comparison to similar apartments in the same area.

eBay Kleinanzeigen is also worth a look, as it has fewer agents and more regular residents listing their apartments. There are many more options, but these cover most of the market.

Using the website you can send a message to the landlord, expressing your interest and wait for the response - they usually get back with a date for you to visit the apartment. You can use the following template to send your message:

Sehr geehrte(r) Frau/Herr ${LAST NAME OF THE LANDLORD},
ich habe Ihre Anzeige gelesen und interessiere mich sehr für die Wohnung in. Ich würde mich sehr über einen Besichtigungstermin freuen. Ich bin jederzeit verfügbar. Sie können mich jederzeit per Email erreichen (${YOUR EMAIL}). Ich freue mich auf Ihre Antwort und wünsche Ihnen noch eine schöne Woche.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

It’s also possible to send a message in English, even though the response rate will probably be lower in this case. The best way to get a response is to call.

There are other websites/real estate agencies for you to search. The following are the most popular:

[2] - Note that for male names you must use “Sehr geehrter Herr” ..., while for female names, you must use Sehr geehrte Frau ….

The process

The apartment visits usually happen with the landlord or the real estate agency representative and all the people interested in the property show up at the same time. In case you’re interested in the property after the visit, you need to:

  • Fill out the application form (Bewerbungsbogen) and send all required documents (will be described in the form itself) in a PDF format, via email.
  • You can include all required document s(in the order requested) in one single PDF file. Some people will fill the form in advance, print it and give it to landlord or real estate agency at the day of the visit.

Since it’s common to have many application for one apartment, the faster you are in delivering the document, the better are your chances of being accepted.

When you succeed in your application

Finally, after a landlord/real estate agency accepts your application to an apartment, you’ll be invited to sign the contract and get the apartment keys. Don’t forget to register your new address (a process called the Anmeldung) as soon as possible. You might need to create a security deposit account in a bank (see below), where the deposit will be required from.

Security Deposit Account - Kautionskonto

In Germany, there’s a law that formalizes the process of Security Deposits using specific accounts for that. Officially, this deposit can only be used in case there’s any damage to the property, caused by the tenant. This money will only be withdrawn at the end of the rental agreement/contract, by the landlord/real estate agency - the rest of the money will be returned to the tenant. This account guarantees that this happens, as it’s connected directly to you, the landlord/real estate agency and the contract. To create this account, you must have the information of your landlord/real estate agency and the contract at the day you go to the bank. There’s another option that is transfer the security deposit directly to the landlord/real estate agency, but you might be exposed to not getting this money back. To avoid any headaches, the Kautionskonto is the better option. Some real estate agencies will open this account for you.

Getting the keys to your new apartment

When you receive the keys to your new apartment, make sure everything is fine and that there are no damages. At the end of your contract, someone will come and check the apartment, and if there’s any damages or anything is missing (that are not described in the contract), the expenses will come out of your security deposit.

Terminating the contract

Terminating your rental contract usually requires a written notice to your landlord, three calendar months in advance. E.g.: if you notify your landlord on February 27th, your contract will be terminated on May 31st. The notification can use the following template:




Kündigung des Mietvertrags ${ADDRESS YOU ARE VACATING}


Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

hiermit kündige ich fristgerecht meinen Mietvertrag für die Wohnung in der ${ADDRESS, PLZ AND UNIT YOU ARE VACATING}.

Laut unserem Mietvertrag ist diese Kündigung mit einer Frist von 3 Monaten verbunden. Das Mietverhältnis endet also am ${CONTRACT TERMINATION DATE}.

Als Termin für die Übergabe der Wohnung schlage ich Ihnen den ${PROPOSED HANDOVER DATE} vor.

Sollten Sie zur Weitervermietung die Wohnung besichtigen lassen, stimmen Sie bitte jeden Termin per E-Mail mit mir ab.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Kündigung erhalten am: ${DATE OF DELIVERY TO LANDLORD}



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