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 ! 🙂

29 Comments

  • Reply Ming 23/02/2020 at 22:07

    Hi, I just moved to Germany and I am looking for a flat, I am new to renting and would like to know what to look out for and what to take into consideration when you start renting and what cost are my responsibility, and what are the landlords. Such as council tax, waster removal, water and sewage…ect. I am very nervous after reading all these comments and don’t want to get myself into any issues

  • Reply Will 30/12/2019 at 10:07

    Hi,

    I know this page is about rentals in Berlin, but I seem to have an issue with a rental I had in Leipzig. I would appreciate any help 🙂

    I rented a room in a WG there for one month via AirBNB (Oct 2018) and then three months afterwards under a rental agreement (Nov 2018 to Jan-2019.) After I left Germany in February, I received my deposit in full afterwards for paying all monthly fees for the 3-months rental period (Kaltmiete, Betriebs-und Heizkosten), as well as the electricity that was paid separately (No Gas included) and assuring there no damages in the room or WG. I also paid for the TV/radio tax separately for that same period which was billed under my name. All was paid on time via online bank transfer.

    Now I get an email from the landlord’s attorney, saying that I should pay for operating utilities costs for my duration of stay stated as of 1.10.2018 to 31.12.2018, summing up to EUR 104. Message says that payment is due within 4 weeks, cost breakdown will be provided upon contacting the landlord, as well as objection is possible.

    From the email body:
    Ihre geleisteten Betriebskostenvorauszahlungen: 60,00 € (which should be 3x the monthly Betriebskosten of EUR 20 as in the agreement, which are already paid for)
    and: Somit ergibt sich eine Nachzahlung von 104,01 €.

    I viewed the Wikipedia page below to understand the Betriebskosten:
    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betriebskosten_(Immobilien)

    But I actually want to understand is it even possible to pay for more utility costs even after one year from leaving and ending the rental agreement and receiving the full deposit, i.e. do I pay for the utilities TWICE: once in the form of monthly rental fees, and another in the form of an annually issued bill?
    Also, how can I possibly be charged for utilities in October 2018, as I stayed in the WG via AirBNB and the rental agreement started in November?
    And will I be contacted again same time next year to pay for more utilities for my tenancy in Januray 2019?

    Back to the above Wikipedia page, I was not able to find out whether the tenant should pay for any additional utilities costs if those are being paid monthly with the rent. What I construe from this is, if I were only paying the Kaltmiete, then I should expect such a bill after some time. What do you think?

    I’ve not written to the landlord yet, not until I understand my grounds in this matter, as I’m reviewing the agreement and most likely there is no mention of Betriebsnachkosten. I’m totally going to ask for the cost breakdown and, should I indeed pay for anything which I shouldn’t, to adjust the stated tenancy period.

    Thank you in advance for any help, advice and clarification.

    Happy New Year!
    Will

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/12/2019 at 15:34

      Hey Will, Thanks for that very long message. This blog aims at giving general advice and cannot replace proper legal counselling. I suggest you get in touch with a lawyer. Sorry i cant help.

  • Reply Ana 28/12/2019 at 15:02

    Hello, I signed a one year contract begining on September 1st but the company I work for transfered me to other city 300km away, the agency says I need to keep the appartament until end of August. Is this correct?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/12/2019 at 15:38

      Hey Ana. Sorry to hear about this situation. Please note that this blog cannot provide legal counselling. In theory, the agency is right and this can only be disputed in certain rare cases. See here for more information. You might want to check with your company if they could pay for those expenses?

  • Reply Umair awan 12/12/2019 at 20:03

    I a a student and living in an apartment with warm rent provided by the bauverein AG.
    Since the last one month i have moved in the heaters stop working the very first day and get fixed after two weeks and now again after working fine for merely one week the heaters stopped working again and it’s been 5th day now.
    I have put up complaints but the lady responsible for communication and fixing our issues just says that she has sent an email to fix it.
    But no one came to fix the problem and she doesn’t even give a thought when i said that she has to compensate for rent as the heaters are not working. Kindly let me know what i can do in this case?
    Because i do not want to pay them for the utilities which are not provided or more precisely not working properly. Looking forward to hear from you soon.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/12/2019 at 00:06

      Hey Umair. This reply does not constitute legal advice but if you think you have been treated unfairly, you should notify them in writing and ask for compensation. If they don’t reply or cooperate, you might need to talk to a Mietverein or lawyer.

  • Reply Brandon 21/11/2019 at 11:58

    Hello, Thank you for that break down and this site in general. My wife and I have been looking at a 135m2 flat (attic, 5th floor, 1913 construction renovated in 2017). The rent is about 1300€ cold and about 250€ for Nebenkosten but says Heizkosten are not included. Also says for Heizungsart is it floor heating (Etagenheizung) and main energy source is gas.

    My question is how can I estimate my heating costs that will be in addition? I have not been lucky on finding sites to estimate this kind of thing.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2019 at 12:43

      Hey Brandon. This means that you probably need to take up a contract with a gas provider. Entering your info with them with provide you with an estimate.

  • Reply Dan 06/05/2019 at 14:52

    Hi, I am having issues with paying for utilities. I Have been in this flat a year. I am the untermietvertrag. When we moved in the hauptmieter and I agreed on €150 Nebenkosten in the contract per month. Now the Jahresabrechnung have come in and she won’t show me the bills but says now my rent will be lower. There are 3 of us living in the house and I see she has charged me half of the total which I think is unfair but I can’t get a breakdown from her to see how much I overpaid. Is it normal to get a refund for bills I have overpaid? I always have done in the past and assumed this is how it would work but she is saying as I signed the contract she doesn’t have to give me anything. The contract does not say anything about this.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/05/2019 at 10:17

      Hey Dan. Yes, it’s possible to get a refund if you paid too much Nebenkosten as a Hauptmieter. She doesn’t have to provide you with a overview though. Source.

  • Reply Anon 05/04/2019 at 13:29

    I’m wondering what’s a reasonable rent in Berlin these days. I have an offer for a flat right on Boxhagnerplatz, 2 rooms, but small, less than 40sqm in total, fully furnished… for 1050/mo, including all utilities (heating, electricity, etc.), internet, etc. Is this absolutely extravagant or more or less average these days?

    Looking at Immo24 for unfurnished flats it looks like the average in Kberg/Fhain/Pberg is 600-750/mo (cold) which I’m assuming after utilities + internet would bring the average to around 850-950 (warm + internet) unfurnished?

    Am I totally crazy for considering paying 1050/mo? My net salary is 2400 + commission

    When I moved here 3 years ago rents were so much cheaper and I’m having a hard time figuring out what’s normal now

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/04/2019 at 09:50

      Hey Anon. Boxahagener Platz is a highly sought-after area so no wonder you’d find a pretty high rent price there. I’d personally not take it but that’s just an opinion. I’m living in Neukölln in a 90sqm and i pay less than that.

  • Reply CalumH 18/03/2019 at 10:24

    Hey, I am moving to Berlin in the next couple of weeks and am loving the information on this site so thanks! Quick question: is it usual to expect agency fees? (Some websites are charging 500 EUR fee on top of the deposit to the landlord + rent.)

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/03/2019 at 09:28

      Hey Calum. No, it’s not legal. Agency fees are to be paid by the landlord.

  • Reply Una Glennon 13/01/2019 at 21:41

    Hi, I have moved into expensive student Wg and here has been a problem with the hot water. We did not have hot water for 1 month and I emailed and email, got a slight rent reduction but all I wanted was hot water to shower in. Since then the water is merely lukewarm, not hot enough to enjoy a shower or to sterilize dishes (no dishwasher). They do not take me seriously, they say wverytime i E-Mail that they have checked and it is hot and they found no problem, which is a lie. What can I do? I can’t find alfalfa about what the temperature should be or the process for legal action. Thanks in advance
    Una

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 23:01

      Hey Una. You need to check what your contract says about this. Apparently in Germany, anything below 40°C is considered a defect. Source.

  • Reply Daniela 29/07/2018 at 08:41

    Hello everyone, my boyfriend and I are moving to Passau next September. We are looking already for options online. Nevertheless, we have been told not to sign anything until we have a chance to see the apartment first. I have recently contacted someone offering an apartment but I am not really sure if it is warm or cold rent. These are the fees:
    Kosten
    Miete: 470€
    Nebenkosten: 120€
    Sonstige Kosten: n.a.
    Kaution: 1410€

    In the nebenkosten item is it included gas, electricity, water and Internet costs? How do I know?

    On the other hand, the guy offered me the option to sign the contract by email and asked me this info to get it done: names, date of birth, copy of passport, emailadresses and handynumbers.
    Is it usual? What is your advice?

    Best, Daniela

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/07/2018 at 22:46

      Hey Daniela. So short response is : it depends, sometimes Nebenkosten might include heating or electricity, depending on the contract. But yeah in general, just wait to see the flat first.

  • Reply Mobin 25/04/2018 at 05:13

    Hello friends, I’m currently living in Munich at a private campus dorm. I have recently purchased an air conditioner due to the up coming hot summer. I was wondering, if I had to pay extra for my electricity due to more usage, although all the utilities are included in the rent. Just want to make sure If there is a limit. Thank you in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/04/2018 at 09:18

      Hi Mobin. You should check your contract what applies in that case.

  • Reply Jym 04/04/2018 at 07:59

    Hello,

    I have a question about housing contract. I recently signed a contract with starting 15.04.2018. The contract is for 12 months and after that I have to give a notice of 3 months before leaving the apartment. As per agreement, I pay the deposit and collect the keys before 15.04, but at the moment I haven’t paid anything yet. Due unforeseen circumstances, I no longer want to rent the apartment(nothing wrong with the apartment). If I want to cancel my rental contract now (its been less than a week since i signed it), what would be the repurcussions? Is it possible to do so, if so will I have to pay them to cancel my contract? Could you please help me or direct me to the place?

    Thanks for the help!

    Regards,
    Jym

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/04/2018 at 15:21

      Hi Jym. You may want to check the part of the contract that is about “Widerrufsrecht”, which defines the conditions to cancel the contract after signing it. Maybe there is a clause allowing you to cancel it. However, as a rule, you cannot get out of it. Source.

  • Reply Neeraj Kumar 30/12/2017 at 19:32

    My rent is 680 Euro but i pay 100 euros extra each month along with my rent to my landlord ( which i think for the Warm Rent )
    i pay separately for the electricity and internet by myself.
    But this whole winter , most of the time, i was traveling outside Germany and did not user heaters too much.

    Now my question is what is going to happen with extra 100 euros that i have been paying to my landlord since July , 17 ?
    If i am paying for my electricity monthly , then how this 100 euros each month will be setteled in the end ? How would landlord know how much heating or warm water did i use ??
    Kindly suggest.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/12/2017 at 21:34

      Hi Neeraj. Depending what it says on the contract, there will be Jahresabrechnung of the Nebenkosten, which in turn can result in a refund if you paid too much.

  • 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.

      • Reply Reese 26/09/2019 at 10:21

        Hi there! We are living in a flat with a minimum of 1 year lease but unfortunately we cannot afford it anymore (due to unemployment) and thinking of moving out and back to our home country. My idea is to find a more financially capable person to take over the lease but the landlord insists that I, and not any other person, must pay for the remaining 4 months up to meet the 1 year lease in the contract. Is it not common in Berlin to do it this way, find another potential tenant to take over the lease, granting the new tenant will take the contract exactly as it is? Many thanks for your reply!

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/09/2019 at 23:16

          Hey Reese, yes this sort of arrangement is something that can happen, but it’s up to the landlord to decide if that can happen or not.

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