Thursday, September 16, 2010
The not so apparent apartment renting rules of Germany...
The good news is I've returned to Germany to find that we have about 90% secured an apartment. Finally! We've been searching for a while without success and then just before David and I headed off to the States we agreed to try and find an apartment together with another couple. Every country has their own way of doing things, but every time I think I've come to understand Germany a little bit better, I find something new that catapults me back to the starting line again.
What I've learned thus far about apartment renting in Germany:
1. When finding a one room apartment, that does not mean it is a one bedroom. One room, means one room. Two rooms means two rooms. Germans count room number, how you define or use those rooms is up to you. Three rooms equates to three rooms plus a bathroom and often (but not always) a separate kitchen.
2. Speaking of kitchen, Germans like to travel from place to place with them. They invest a lot into their cooking crannies, so they don't leave them behind, unless of course you are going to reimburse them for it.
3. Be aggressive. It seems like there are more renters than apartments available. The only way you have a shot in Helsinki is to be annoyingly persistent, and yet even then that didn't seem to work for us.
4. Provisions. This word took on a whole new meaning when searching for an apartment here in Germany. Provisions is what the Germans call paying 2-3 months of rent to a real estate agent for finding the apartment for you. The thing is, they actually don't find the apartment for you. You find it yourself. And what's more, even when you go to see the apartments, often they aren't present, its left to the current tenant to show you around the place. Now, I'm sure there's a lot of paperwork and things involved that I don't see, but it's a painful thought to think I have to pay a person I've spoken to for a total of perhaps 30 minutes 3 months rent, which could equate to 600 Euros, 1000 Euros, or if you're renting a house, several thousand Euros.
5. This is a new one I discovered today. So Germans charge a fee to people living in the apartment if they are, what they call Untermieter. So say you are renting an apartment with a few people and it is under X's name. Y, if not directly related to X, is required to pay 2.50 Euros extra a month because he or she is living there. The fee is clearly not astronomical, but I don't understand the logic behind charging the fee in the first place. If the apartment is X's and Y and Z live there, then both must pay the 2.50, even if they are presumably paying rent also. Why? Beats me.
I'm sure there will be more surprises along the way but for now all the paperwork is in, so here's hoping.