Your first own apartment!

Here are the top 9 questions and answers about your first apartment. Put together for you together with the Berlin Tenants Association.

The Berlin housing market is very tense, many apartments are allocated through personal contacts. Therefore, you should inform your circle of friends and acquaintances about your apartment search.

We recommend the site to you, on which the six municipal housing companies place their housing offers. These housing companies are obliged to provide moderate rents and socially oriented rentals through a cooperation agreement with the Berlin Senate. In total, the municipal housing companies have around 330.000 apartments.

They are also relatively cheap social housingthat were built with public funding. For newly built social housing, the starting rent is between 6,50 and 8,00 euros per square meter net. To rent social housing, you need a housing entitlement certificate (WBS), which you can apply for at the responsible housing benefit authority. Unfortunately, there are only just over 90.000 social housing units left in the city, so you'll need a bit of luck to get one of these.

Continue to commit cooperatives through their statutes on a socially oriented rental policy, so that renting a cooperative apartment can generally be recommended. However, the waiting lists are long, and some even have an admission freeze. And to become a member of a cooperative (a prerequisite for later renting an apartment) you first have to purchase cooperative shares.

Of course they should dormitories of the studierendenWERKs cannot go unmentioned as a good alternative. Unfortunately, the waiting lists are long here too. Next to the studierendenWERK There are other providers of student accommodation. You should take a closer look here, some providers use furnished rentals under the umbrella of student housing to demand completely overpriced rents.

Those still remain private landlords and housing companies, which offer the majority of the apartments. Because of the great competition from other apartment seekers, it is important to stand out when applying for an apartment. It might be worth contacting a representative of the company personally. It is certainly an advantage to have some kind of application folder ready in which all the documents relevant to the landlord are collected (proof of income, a few sentences about why you are applying for the apartment, a friendly photo, Schufa information as well as information about when and with how many people you would like to move into the apartment).

Here You can find further information from the Berlin Tenants Association on types of apartments.

Here You can find further information about the residence permit. 

Anyone who signs the rental agreement becomes a tenant. Whoever signs is liable for all obligations arising from the rental agreement, regardless of whether the apartment is actually used or not. This question is interesting when several people rent an apartment. There are two options here: Either you sign the rental agreement alone Main tenant and at the same time ask your landlord for permission to sublet to other people. If approval is granted, you will then conclude a sublease agreement with your roommates, meaning that you will take on the role of the landlord towards your roommates. You remain the only contractual partner with your landlord, meaning you owe the full rent even if one of your tenants does not pay the rent.

Or you can all sign the rental agreement together. The only thing to note here is that the landlord's approval is usually required if one of the tenants wants to move out and be released from the rental agreement. The landlord is not obliged to grant this approval or can make this approval dependent on their own conditions. If the landlord refuses to give permission to change the contract, the only option is to leave everything as it is, with the result that the person moving out remains a contractual partner and is liable for the obligations. Or all tenants have to terminate the rental agreement together and the remaining tenants have to hope for a new rental agreement.

Here You can find further information from the Berlin Tenants Association on concluding a rental agreement.

Rental contracts for living space are usually agreed for an indefinite period, meaning they run for an indefinite period of time until they are terminated. But here too it is worth taking a closer look at the rental agreement: ordinary termination is often excluded for a certain period of time. This is possible and permissible if this exclusion of termination applies to both contracting parties and does not last longer than four years in pre-formulated rental agreements. In addition, termination without notice for good cause may not be covered by the exclusion of termination.

A temporary rental agreement is also conceivable. In regular tenancies, however, special requirements apply here: The fixed-term contract requires a qualified reason for the fixed-term contract, which is regulated by law (own use or the intended structural change or demolition) and which must be expressly stated in the rental agreement.

If there is no reason, the time limit is invalid and the rental agreement runs for an indefinite period. 

Attention: These strict requirements for a fixed-term contract do not apply to student halls of residence. Here, the limitation is common and permissible.

Here You can find further information from the Berlin Tenants Association on the fixed-term rental agreement.

A rental security can be agreed in the rental agreement, i.e. the tenant is obliged to pay a security deposit of a maximum of three net rents. This rental security should serve as a bargaining chip for the landlord if, for example, B. the rent is not paid or damage is caused to the apartment. If the rental security is provided as a cash deposit, the landlord must invest the money in an insolvency-proof deposit account that is separate from his or her own assets. It is also possible to pledge the claim from a savings account to the landlord. Likewise, a guarantee, e.g. B. by the parents, possible. Banks also offer a guarantee. The advantage is that you don't have to come up with the money yourself, but on the other hand, the banks will of course have you pay for this guarantee, so the bank guarantee is the most expensive option and not recommended.

Here You can find further information about the deposit from the Berlin Tenants Association.

The landlord is obliged to remedy defects as part of his/her repair obligations. On the other hand, as a tenant, you are obliged to report the defect to the landlord. This notification should be accompanied by a request to rectify the defect within a deadline. Furthermore, the defect should be documented, as there is a fundamental obligation to provide evidence of the defect. 

A rent reduction is only possible if there is a significant defect that affects living in a more than insignificant way. A small, inconspicuous water stain on the wall or a dripping faucet will not be enough to reduce the rent. The situation is different, for example. B. if there is a heating failure in the winter months or clearly visible mold. 

Prior notification of defects is also a prerequisite for the rent reduction. In addition, reductions should only be made to an appropriate extent. Caution! If you reduce your contract too much, in the worst case scenario it can lead to arrears in rent that could lead to termination. It is therefore always best to seek advice beforehand. A rent reduction is excluded if you caused the defect yourself or were aware of the defect when the contract was concluded without taking any action.

Here You can find further information from the Berlin Tenants Association on how to remedy defects and reduce rent.

The landlord's prior approval is required for subletting, otherwise in the worst case scenario you risk having the rental agreement terminated. On the other hand, there may be a right to approval of subletting if there is a legitimate interest. It is recognized as a legitimate interest if you want to sublet part of your apartment in order to reduce your running costs or simply no longer want to live alone.

As a rule, there is no legitimate interest in subletting the entire apartment (e.g. for the duration of a stay abroad); in these cases, the landlord can refuse permission. However, if you leave some of your furniture in the apartment and keep a key to the apartment and thus the power of disposal, it is assumed that part of the apartment is sublet, for which there is a legitimate interest.

The inclusion of close family members (parents, spouses, children) in the shared household does not constitute subletting, so no approval is required and the inclusion simply needs to be reported. However, taking in a partner who you are not married to is treated like subletting, so approval must also be obtained in advance. However, the inclusion of the partner represents a legitimate interest, so approval actually has to be granted. If this does not happen, the approval may have to be sued for if necessary.

If the landlord has approved the regular subletting, this approval usually refers to the named subtenant. If this person changes, a new permit must be obtained. The regular approval also does not affect short-term subletting to changing holiday guests.

Here You can find further information from the Berlin Tenants Association on subletting.

In principle, it is possible to increase the rent under certain conditions. It's worth taking a look at the rental agreement here: If a graduated rent has been agreed, the rent increase occurs after the time specified in the rental agreement and the amount agreed there. With an index rent, the rent increases depending on the development of the consumer price index, whereby the landlord must give appropriate notice. In the case of rental agreements without a graduated or index rental agreement, the landlord must also meet certain requirements in order to increase the rent. The rent may only be increased up to the local comparative rent for the specific apartment, which in turn is determined from the Berlin rent index. The so-called capping limit should also be taken into account, according to which the rent may not be increased by more than 15 percent in three years. In addition, the rent increase must be formulated as a request for consent and the rent increase must be justified, so the landlord cannot simply set the rent amount. The rent must remain unchanged for 12 months between two rent increases. In addition, the tenant has two full calendar months after receipt of the rent increase request to review it before the rent increase becomes due on the first of the next month.

In addition, the rent cap applies in Berlin, according to which, in principle, the rent at the time of conclusion of the contract may not be more than 10% above the local comparative rent (which results from the Berlin rent index). In the case of an index rent, the rent cap applies to the initial rent; in the case of a graduated rent, each new scale can be checked for compliance with the rent cap using the respective rent index. If the agreed rent is too high, you should complain to the landlord and demand that the rent be reduced. If the landlord refers to exceptions to the rent cap, he or she must provide evidence of these and point out these exceptions when concluding the rental agreement.

Here You can find further information from the Berlin Tenants Association on rent increases.

Here You can find further information from the Berlin Tenants Association about the rent cap.

A three-month notice period generally applies to tenants, whereby the landlord must receive notice of termination on the third working day of the month so that the rental agreement ends at the end of the month after next. If the rental agreement, for example, For example, if the contract ends on June 30th, the notice of termination must be received by the landlord by April 3rd at the latest.

Beforehand, you should check whether the rental agreement excludes termination. Ordinary termination can be excluded for a maximum of four years in pre-formulated rental agreements. However, the prerequisite is that this exclusion of termination applies to both contractual parties.

A reason for termination is not required for the tenant to give notice of termination. However, the termination must be declared in writing and signed by hand by all tenants. Termination by fax, email or WhatsApp is not effective.

If the landlord wants to terminate the rental agreement, he or she needs a reason for termination. The permissible reasons for termination are regulated in the Civil Code. After that, termination is conceivable due to personal use, a breach of duty by the tenant or because of hindrance to commercial exploitation. The landlord must also declare the termination in writing and, in contrast to the tenant, provide a comprehensible reason for the termination. In addition, the landlord must comply with the notice periods. The notice period is generally three months, but is extended by three months for the landlord after five and eight years of tenancy. If the tenancy lasts longer than eight years, a nine-month notice period would have to be observed.

Here You can find further information from the Berlin Tenants' Association on how to terminate the tenant's contract.

Here You can find further information from the Berlin Tenants' Association on how to terminate the landlord's notice.

Installations made by the tenant must be removed and the original condition restored if the landlord requests this. Exception: It was expressly agreed that the installations could remain in the apartment at the end.

Whether you are obliged to carry out cosmetic repairs depends on whether the rental agreement contains a valid agreement and whether there is a need for renovation, i.e. whether the work is necessary. If the cosmetic repair clause agreed in the rental agreement is ineffective because, for example, For example, if it contains an inadmissible color specification, you are not required to carry out cosmetic repairs and you only have to return the rooms swept clean. It is therefore worth checking the rental agreement before starting work. Basically, the cosmetic repairs only include painting and wallpapering work in the interior of the apartment. 

Damage to the rental property, for example deep scratches in the parquet or a broken tile or a broken window handle, can only be repaired if the landlord can prove that you caused this damage.

Here You can find further information from the Berlin Tenants Association on cosmetic repairs.

Here You can find further information from the Berlin Tenants Association about moving out.

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