Rent in Germany : Hot & Cold

You finally convinced a landlord to rent you a flat. You ! Among the 100 people that applied for the same flat, he has chosen you. Take time to say thanks to the Big Guy up there and ask yourself the question :

“What am i going to pay my landlord every month exactly ?”

rent in germany

Don’t think about it too long though…

Rent in Germany is usually presented as “kalt” (cold) or “warm”

Warm rent in Germany usually corresponds to an “all inclusive” rent. It means that all extra-costs are included, should they be electricty (“Strom”), gas or water expenses. Depending on what you have signed up for, it can also include internet or/and TV although it is not usual. Make sure to have an understanding in the contract.

Cold rent in Germany is no more than what you owe the landlord every month. All other extra costs will have to be undertaken by yourself. Contracts with gas, electricity, water and internet providers will have to be made by you only. The landlord won’t be involved there.

The point to take from this is simply to prefer a warm rent over a cold one if you plan to stay for a relatively short amount of time in Berlin or Germany. It’s extremly difficult to get out of a contract for electricty or gas.


Nebenkosten – the devil is in the details

Some other extra-costs “Nebenkosten” can be paid in the rent; by you or the landlord. Every tenant in your building pays its share to cover them.

  • Grundsteuer – covers up costs for local taxes
  • Beleuchtung – covers up costs of lights in the corridors and stairs
  • Hausreinigung / Hausmeisterdienst – covers up costs for having a janitor
  • Gartenpflege – covers up costs for garden and private outdoor spaces maitenance
  • Abwasser – covers up costs for waste water – sewers
  • Fahrstuhl – covers up costs  for lift maintenace
  • Schornsteinreinigung – covers up costs for chimney sweepers
  • Straßenreinigung / Müllabfuhr – covers up costs for pathwalk and trash maintenance/management


You should be paying those extra-costs only if they are justified in your case. If you don’t have a chimney in your flat, it is probably not fair for you to pay those.

In a nutshell, rent in germany is often what you agreed to pay in your tenancy contract, so be sure to read that one through before signing anything ! 🙂


  • Reply Dan 22/04/2013 at 14:41

    Could you elaborate on the terms of utilities contracts? Do you have to commit to a year or something? In the States, I’m used to just paying for those on a month-to-month basis and being able to terminate them whenever I want.

    • Reply settle_in_Berlin 28/04/2013 at 18:38

      It depends. For example, speaking for Berlin here, Vattenfall is sort of the standard electricity provider if the tenant or the landlord has not switched to another one. In this case, commitment is quite limited and i think only a 1-month notice is required before getting out of the contract. When switching to another provider, a one year commitment is pretty standard but can be tied to price-guarantees. (If price for electricity goes above a given threshold per Watt/hour, you can get out of the contract whenever you want). You can also pay on a monthly basis.

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