Germany’s rental market can be tight and the lack of vacancies raises the cost of rental units in the larger cities. The effect of the government’s regulation on limiting rent increases for existing tenants reduces the incentive for a tenant to leave a rental unit and therefore new leases on rental units are at a premium in Germany. Although the regulations favor the tenant, they restrict a landlord’s ability to evict troublesome or non-paying tenants. Typically, landlords can evict only on the basis of needing the accommodation themselves or selling the property. Consequently, German landlords are now carefully screening their tenants. In university towns, the problem is compounded by the fluctuating vacancy rates as students move in and out according to the academic calendar. As a result, finding accommodations can be difficult in the months that terms commence, specifically March and April and again in September and October.
In the big cities of Cologne, Hamburg, and Munich, the cost of renting can be prohibitive and is often as high as a half of a monthly salary. Finding an apartment for a larger family can present an even greater problem. The kinds of apartment required by foreigners, furnished or semi-furnished and at limited notice and for brief periods of time, are in short supply and expensive.
Mietspiegel is designed to help people find reasonably-priced accommodations across Germany. Mietspiegel is a table that lists the appropriate cost of rental units in different parts of the country and in different sections of the same city, thus allowing the comparison of rental units. The table can identify unit prices that are higher than the legal limits for a given area. The Mietspiegel is located at the local town hall or at local the tenants’ associations, called the Meiterverein. If the price exceeds the legal limit, it can be reduced, but the advice of a lawyer or the tenants’ association is highly recommended.