Tipps for finding an apartment in Rhine-Main
Students with children have a hard time finding a place to live.
- Most of the time resident communities, rooms for sublease and residential halls do not qualify as a cheap alternative.
- Many apartment owners in Germany prefer retirees (71 %) and double-income earners without children (63 %) over couples with children (50 %), provided that the income levels are respectively good. Most unpopular are residential communities (10 %), even behind single (44 %) and single parents (18%) (Innofact AG).
In order to still find affordable child-appropriate housing, here a couple of tipps:
Which support options and entitlements (residence entitlement, housing benefits, child support and so on) do you have?
Real estate portals on the internet, daily newspapers, notice boards, exchange platforms for housing, district newspapers, word-of-mouth recommendation. Many apartments are leased internally. Someone knows somebody who again knows someone, guaranteed. Be active and do not underestimate the effect of notices and want ads.
Create a precise search profile in order to avoid too many wrong hits. Beware fraud in real estate portals! There are no bargains in prime locations, keep your hands off of transaction businesses (sending prepayment of rent abroad in exchange for the apartment key per delivery).
Define for yourself which criteria is ultimately indispensable and what is more worth to you – the great public transport connection or the extra room? Preferably a balcony or bathtub? Many fail because of unrealistic expectations.
Housing shortage is a metropolitan phenomenon. Most of the time, it does not take longer to get into the city from surrounding areas with public transportation, than within the city itself. Still the majority of students tries to find an apartment located in the usual districts. Valuable time vanishes and often one misses better alternatives.
Highlight yourself positively when making a viewing appointment:
- give complete contact data
- pay attention to grammar, spelling, and personal addressing if possible
- keeping explanatory notes focused on the apartment (no unambiguous standard text/ copy and paste)
- illustrating special interest and not only asking for a viewing appointment.
Look at the apartment’s description thoroughly:
If the object is advertised for a maximum of two people, it makes no sense to introduce yourself as a four-party residential community. Most of the time the detailed description has a reason, so that many questions can be answered themselves and specific apartments can be excluded beforehand. You save time and discouraging frustrations in case of failed viewings.
It is important to be prepared for the viewing!
Think about which criteria the landlord and broker have beforehand. The income in not always of special interest but also the impression one makes. If you are truly interested in an object, show it.
Important documents, e.g. credit rating (available online), proof of income, confirmation by former landlord of debt-free rent, declaration of rent guarantee (including information about the guarantor and its creditworthiness, and a copy of your identity card should always be present.
Beware of a healthy relation between your budget and the required rent including heating. The amount should not surpass 40 % of your budget.
Apartments through cooperatives are affordable and often located within popular districts. Because of the long waiting lists, it is rather a perspective option.
= balance between privacy protection and the landlord’s justified interest
Questions regarding the renter’s identity are legal (name, address, telephone number)
While the question regarding one’s marital status is legal, questions about divorce or non-marital partnerships are illegal as well as the type and duration of the partnership.
Demanding the number of children who are to move in is legal.
The landlord is entitled to know how many people are to move into the apartment and if that amount is appropriate or if imminent overpopulation occurs.
One must differentiate questions about children’s ages:
If the question is about the number of people who use the apartment, it is legal to demand the children’s ages. If it is about diminishing noise through infants, legal problems can occur.
Asking for future plans is absolutely off-limits. If children are to move into the apartment in the future, it is part of the renter’s right of use, which is specifically protected by Article 6 GG. Questions regarding the desire to have children or an existing pregnancy are prohibited and do not have to be answered (truthfully).
- if possible, view the object during daylight and a normal time of day in order to get an impression of noise pollution
- Building condition, poor soundproofing?
- Apartment condition, especially windows, flooring, kitchen/ bathroom, heating?
- Storage options for washer/ dryer, drying room?
- Which heating type =amount of cost (single-storey heating, central heating, district heating, gas heating, oil heating, storage heater…)
- Incidental expenses?
- location and surrounding area (infrastructure, playground, traffic noise, types of neighbours and so on)
- Parking lot for car?
- Storage unit, basement/ condition?
(The Studentenwerk Frankfurt am Main does not take responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the following information.)
Minor repairs/ renovation when moving out
If there is no agreement in the rental contract, the landlord is responsible for all minor repairs (§ 538 BGB). Normally the finishing of these is transferred to the renter.
Minor repairs are only required if they are actually necessary. Fixed provisions are invalid. The renter does not need to do ongoing renovations plus a final renovation when moving out. If the renter is disadvantaged, the entire provision entrée becomes invalid and the BGB law sets in, which means the renter is not obligated to do anything.
Normally there are different periods of notice for the renter and the landlord. Renters may terminate the contract with a three-month notice, regardless of how long the contract has existed. The landlord’s termination notices are graduated – depending on how long the renter is living in the apartment. During the first 5 years a three-month notice, until 8 years a six-month notice, and afterwards a nine-month notice is required. The termination must be reasonable through the landlord’s interests.
Rent increase/ after modernization/ graduated rent
A simple notification of an increased rent after a specific date is prohibited. Both contractual parties must agree on a raise of rent. The renter cannot refuse the approval of the rent increase if it does not surpass the local comparative rent. The landlord must justify the rent increase by referring to a rent index, rent database, expert report, or three comparative apartments. Here the cap limit is valid (maximum raise of 20 % in the past three years).
This does not apply to rent increases after modernization, which increase the apartment’s value through energy-saving methods (energy, water). The renter cannot prevent such a modernization, even if the rent increases afterwards. Exception: case of hardship.
Agreed graduated rents in the contract determine the rent increases in specific intervals. Other increases are prohibited. This also applies to rent increases after modernization. The graduated rents must be sustainable for at least a year.
A three-month rent as a deposit may be demanded on agreement. The deposit does not have to be paid immediately but in three similar rates per month. A landlord’s demand of an immediate payment is invalid. If the renter does not pay the rates on-time, an imminent termination without notice occurs. The landlord is obligated to stall the deposit with a three-month notice. After moving out, the renter must give the landlord an appropriate amount of time to check if claims are valid (e.g. removing damages, compensation of rental costs and so on) before he repays the deposit.
The broker commission for a successful arrangement has a maximum of two rents excluding heating plus sales tax and is due as soon as the contract is signed. Payments in advance are prohibited and the commission must be clarified to the potential renter.
The broker is not allowed to demand a commission if he/she arranged subsidized or with public law supported residential properties (e.g. social housing). This also applies to close economic linkages between the broker and the landlord. Normally the broker is not allowed to function as the landlord at the same time.