Information for Guests
Useful advice when renting an apartment on your own
Although we can not offer more assistance in private housing matters, please find below some helpful tips from us on how to find an apartment and what to consider.
Searching for a suitable apartment:
- For the apartment's location, choose the area of town you like most. To prevent long bus rides, an area close to the institute is advisable. However, having to change buses once is often necessary with most of the local buslines. Rents downtown are higher (7.65 to 9.69 euros per m^2 for a furnished apartment without utilities) than in the suburbs.
- There are lots of ads on info-boards in the Mensa building offering flats to share which is called "WG" or ``Wohngemeinschaft'', i.e., you get your own room but share kitchen and bathroom. The rent for this kind of accomodation is usually quite low. Another source of ads is the local newspaper Saarbruecker Zeitung with ads for flats to rent appearing on Wednesdays and Fridays (you can find a copy of this paper on the 1st floor with other journals). Another newspaper to recommend is the Findling which appears on Tuesdays and Fridays and consists of a great variety of ads on nearly all subjects and the Wochenspiegel, available every Wednesday/Thursday. Since most ads contain a lot of abbreviations, please find a list of explanations in our document: Abbreviations in ads for flats to rent.
- Make sure the deposit is reasonable: i.e. two or three monthly rents. Kaltmiete (``cold rent'') and Warmmiete (``warm rent '') refer to the amount of the basic rent and the rent with utilities. The deposit is returned to you with interest if you leave the apartment undamaged. The landlord should set up a deposit account with the bank for this purpose.
- Electricity: is directly paid to the electricity company with which you sign a contract when moving in. Since they can only estimate how much you will consume, you pay a monthly flat rate and the difference is settled after the end of each year. When you move in and out, and also sometimes in between your tenancy, the electricity readings are taken by them. If your consumption exceeds the payments made so far, the monthly flat rate will be increased, if you consumed less, it will be decreased. In some houses the hot water is heated by a boiler instead of the heating system and hence uses electricity. Please note that this increases the costs for electricity immensely.
- Utilities: Besides the monthly electricity charges, you are charged for utilities, which include the costs for heating (including heating up the water if not done electrically), garbage disposal, property tax, charges for street cleaning, lighting in the public areas of the house, water consumption and sewage, fees for the "Hausmeister", insurances, cable tv, and for tending the garden). The utilities ("Nebenkosten") account for the difference between the "Kaltmiete (basic rent)" and the "Warmmiete (basic rent plus utilities)". The biggest portion of the utilities is incurred by heating costs which very much depend on your consumption (not only heating up your room but also heating the water you consume (shower, etc.). When moving in and out, the meters for the heating and water are taken to calculate your consumption during your tenancy. All other utility charges are calculated according to your length of tenancy and number of m^2 of your flat. If a fixed utilities rate ("Nebenkostenpauschale") has been concluded, it is not calculated at the end of tenancy. If a flat rate for the utilities is agreed upon ("Nebenkostenvorauszahlung"), the utilities will be settled against your monthly payment. Together with the final bill, which may be sent to you up to a year after your move out (it takes so long because the owner waits until he gets the final bill for his house/flat in spring for the previous year), the landlord has to enclose all invoices/receipts for your information but may ask for a refund of the expenses for copying these papers.
- Please note that utility (especially heating) and electricity charges are raised every year due to the increase in prices. This affects all of Germany and is often like a 2nd rent since sometimes they are as high as the basic rent ("Kaltmiete"). Therefore, do not underestimate the importance of saving energy by switching off the heating when leaving or airing the room, not overheating the rooms but wearing a pullover inside the flat in winter instead of only a t-shirt and not wasting water (especially hot water), etc.
- Before you sign the lease, ask a German native speaker to go through the main paragraphs with you. Do pay special attention to the paragraphs added by typewriter/handwriting.
- Please keep one copy for your records (needed for the local registration office). We also recommend writing a complete certificate with the landlord which should document all pieces of furniture in the apartment and, more importantly, any damage you notice, even if only minor. This helps to avoid arguments over money with the landlord when moving out.
Since January 2013, everyone has to pay radio, television and computer fees to the Gebühreneinzugszentrale or GEZ
. Registration forms are available at the post office or internet.
Things to inform the landlord about before and during tenancy:
Things to settle when moving in (forms are with us):
- Visitors who will stay with you in your flat for more than a few days,
- If you wish to have pets in the apartment you must ask for his/her permission.
- If you damage something: Either pay compensation or properly replace the broken/damaged item.
- Do not order workers for doing repairs without the landlord's consent. You may be held responsible for their bills.
When you intend to terminate tenancy:
- Request to the electricity company for being supplied with electricity (enter current readings).
- Request for a phone connection. The fee to establish a land-line is 51 euros and takes some days to be activated. The phone company will inform you of your phone number by surface mail. Phone set: Rather than renting one at the phone company, it is cheaper to buy one (department stores).
- Do send a letter of notice (in German: "Kündigung") to the landlord/landlady in advance. To meet the termination deadline, please check what your lease states as to the period of notice. Please consider that oral agreements are not binding: only rely on what is stated in the contract or in written form.
- Also, please don't forget to send letters of notice to the companies that provide you with electricity and phone. Do again read the electricity meter which is, in most cases, located in the cellar. Giving the reading over the phone will do. Please ask both companies to send the final bill to the institute's address in case you will be leaving Germany right after moving out.
- Make sure that you leave the apartment in a proper and clean condition! It is not enough to leave it well-swept! Give a wash to all shelves, cabinets, cupboards, fridge, floors, etc. and do not forget to remove all your personal belongings and dispose of the garbage!
- The deposit will not reimbursed to you before the very last day of your stay. Moreover, it is quite common and fully legitimate for the landlord to wait for the final bill from the respective companies (utilities).
|Created by:||Roxane Wetzel/ZB/MPII/DE, 08/21/2001 02:56 PM||Last modified by:||Roxane Wetzel/ZB/MPII/DE, 04/16/2013 02:24 PM|
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