Navigating around the market for housing rental Germany
When you are looking for property to rent in Germany a good place to begin is in the local papers, especially in the weekend editions and on Wednesdays- traditionally the day the property listings come out in many papers. You will find the ads in the classified section- in German, Kleinanzeigen, and then in the Immobilienteil (property) section. Look for Vermietungen which is the flats to rent section, rather than the flats to sale part, or Wohnangebote.
As well as the regular local papers there are specialist publications such as Marktplatz, and Annonce which are dedicated to classified ads. In the University towns you will also often find similar free publications which can be useful not only for finding a property but for furnishing it afterwards.
The ads themselves can be extremely complex at first , particularly if you are fairly new to German, but like anything they will become easier to interpret with a little practice.
A typical ad could read “”4 ZKB , ZH, teilm枚bl., 650 + NK, 2MM Kaut., Chiffre 100”, which at first glance seems utterly incomprehensible but which broken down to its component parts simply means “four-room apartment with kitchen and bathroom to let, central heating, partly furnished, monthly rent EUR 650 plus utility charges, deposit: 2 months’ rent, offers to Box No. 100.” When an ad gives a “Chiffre ” or box number, then you must write care of the newspaper- if a telephone number is given then ring- but ring soon as places go quickly.
Sometimes you will be dealing with the current tenant who is looking for someone to take over the remainder of their lease , to be the “Nachmieter”. Usually they will also offer to sell you their furniture etc. if they don’t wish to take it, this can be very useful.
As with everything, though, you must proceed with caution and common sense and be aware of possible pitfalls along the way. Tenants vacating properties have been known to take advantage by asking ludicrously high amounts to buy their fittings and furniture. Although not able by law to choose a particular individual as “Nachmieter” an unscrupulous tenant can “forget” to forward your application to the home owner if the asking price is not paid.
Also be aware that the words “Immobilien” or “Ring Deutscher Makler”(often abbreviated to RBM) mean that the ad has been placed by a professional real estate firm and that a fee will be payable.
Putting your own ad in the paper can be one way of finding the perfect place, although this can be a bit of a futile activity at times of particularly high demand such as at the start of the new academic year in October if you are hoping to move to a University town as competition for homes is extremely high.
Most newspapers, in addition to their newspaper ads, have websites with the latest rental listings- sometimes these can even show new properties before they appear in the newspaper giving you a head start on other hopeful would-be renters. In some of the larger cities magazines entirely devoted to property are published which can be a useful way to find the right place. Increasingly available also are strictly online accommodation sites with property listed to let. Some, like www.studenten-wg.de, will also offer rooms in shared properties, and allow you to put your own ad looking for a place.