Expat Guide On How To Rent In Berlin

Shreya

Updated on Nov 12 • 5 minute read

If you’re thinking Germany could be your new or temporary home, then living in Berlin must have crossed your mind! After all, it’s one of the best cities in Germany!

"Berlin is a young, fresh melting pot which never sleeps and where everything is possible. It almost feels as if the whole city were a start-up...", says HousingAnywhere's Max Zowodny from Berlin. So if you want to place yourself in the prime epicentre, “where things are happening”, Berlin can offer one of the most inspiring neighbourhoods in existence!

Are you ready to learn all there is to know about renting in Berlin? Let’s get started! This informative guide will help you understand all of the processes that are involved when you need to find a room in Berlin, including understanding your rental agreement, the documents that you’ll need, how to find rental accommodation, which expat neighbourhoods to keep an eye on, and what to do after signing a rental contract.

Read up on German rental agreements to educate and protect yourself

Given that Berlin’s rental market is fiercely competitive, it’s good to familiarise yourself with some terms and tenant rights. This way, when you see a rental contract, you’ll know what to look out for.

What should I look out for in my rental agreement in Germany?

A rental agreement is always required when you are renting a room or an apartment in Germany. A rental agreement not only protects the landlord but the tenant as well.

If your landlord says that it isn’t necessary, then insist upon getting one or begin to look for another property.

The terminology in the rental agreement can often be complex; filled with legal jargon and may even be written in German. Resist the temptation to overlook the details and sign without reading through the contract thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek legal guidance if there’s anything in the contract you’re uncertain about. Above all else, never settle for a verbal agreement with a landlord; a signed rental contract is essential.

The rental laws in Germany tend to be in favour of the tenant, so don’t worry too much if you change your mind.

Most agreements contain standard components such as:

  • Personal details of both the tenant and the landlord, including phone number, address, and full name; pay special attention to how your name is spelt.

  • Address and description of the rental accommodation, including whether it is inclusive of utility bills (warmmiete) or excluding (kaltmiete); inventory; and condition it must be left in.

  • Information regarding the length of the tenancy, the moving date, the moving out date.

  • Deposits and payment information- bank details, when is the rent due, when can it increase, how much is the deposit, penalties for terminating early, and the possibility of extending the contract.

  • Additional terms and conditions for things like parking.

It's worth noting that it is common practice for German landlords to ask for your deposit to be paid immediately after signing the contract and before moving in.

And while this may seem like a no-brainer, make sure that everyone who will be living with you is included in the agreement. Otherwise, you’ll be solely responsible for rent payments, utilities and any remaining fees or money owed for damages to the property.

Get Your Documents in Order

Remember that finding a place to rent in Berlin is competitive, so when you find something that fits your needs, it’s best to act as soon as possible.

The average rent in Berlin is €552 for rooms and €1086 for apartments. Use this as a benchmark to find housing in Berlin.

But as tempting as it is to start scrolling through Berlin homes for rent, ensure that you have all of your documentation ready. After all, you can’t sign a rental agreement without these papers and you don’t want any admin work being an obstacle to finding your dream house.

Typically you will need the below documents to rent in Berlin:

  • A signed rental application form that you have received from the landlord or have downloaded online.

  • A copy of your residence permit (should it be required) and passport.

  • Proof of income for three months.

  • If applicable, a letter from a previous landlord stating you left the property in good condition and with no outstanding balances.

In Germany, landlords or real estate agents also like to do a credit check before offering you a place to rent. But the German credit check report (SCHUFA) is often sent to your German address. But since you don’t yet have an address in Berlin, that is a problem. So make sure you prepare alternative reports to prove your financial health.

Finding Housing in Berlin

There’re several ways to find both short term or long term rental in Berlin. If you’re a student, you can look for student dormitories in Berlin. But such housing is limited and fills up very quickly. Nearly 60% of international students and all local students are forced to look specifically for rooms or apartments for rent in Berlin for students.

If you’re an expat, you can look into rental agencies in Berlin; although their fees are high. Alternatively, you can browse through the many groups and communities on Facebook. However, anyone can advertise on Facebook and because of the extremely competitive Berlin rental market, you could easily be scammed under the pressure of booking something quickly.

This is why it's imperative that you take the time to do your research in finding a reliable renting platform that is also friendly to internationals. By using HousingAnywhere:

  • Your rent will be protected for up to 48 hours after you’ve moved in. This gives you time to assess the place and back out if necessary.
  • You’ll be protected from scammers with our machine learning backed scam-detection tech.
  • You’ll receive a refund and our help in case you’re scammed.
  • We’ll help you beat your competition in finding places to rent in Berlin by sending email alerts based on your preferences .

Tip: Understand how the public transport works in Berlin and see if your new rental is close to any public transport. This will make travelling to work, university, city centre, airport, or home that much easier.

Neighborhoods

Berlin’s neighbourhoods exhibit a sheer range of atmosphere; from the eccentric to the sleek, the city has a myriad of residential communities that can be historical, cultural, hip, artistic, modern, and techy.

Of the 12 districts in Berlin, there are certain areas that appeal to international students and expats due to their proximity to universities, businesses, or large expat communities. Some neighbourhoods you may want to keep in mind include:

  1. Mitte
  2. Neuköln
  3. Friedrichshain - Kreuzberg
  4. Charlottenburg - Wilmersdorf
  5. Pankow
  6. Tempelhof - Schöneberg
  7. Steglitz - Zehlendorf

Remember to register after you sign the contract

Once you find your dream room or apartment in Berlin, it’s time to sign the contract!

If you plan to stay in Berlin for over three months, then you’ll need to register your new address with the Bürgeramt (registration office) within 14 days of signing your rental agreement.

Registration is important as it will provide you with your tax identification number (Steueridentifikationsnummer) and your registration certificate. This will be necessary for things such as opening a bank account, paying your rent, or setting up your utilities.

The registration offices tend to be extremely busy. To prepare yourself for the long waiting list book your appointment as soon as you’ve signed your rental agreement or schedule an appointment before signing the rental contract.

Get ready to live in Berlin!

Now that you know the key steps to rent in Germany’s capital ‒ including the ins and outs of rental agreements, and how to find an apartment ‒ you can relax and begin planning your move to Berlin. In no time, you’ll be on the adventure of a lifetime and living like a Berlin local!

And if you’re already in Germany and ready to find your new place in Berlin, make sure to read up on how to terminate your rental contract and protect your deposit.

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