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Subleting a flat – Those are the 3 legalities you should pay attention to

Once you have arrived in Germany, you will need a place to live. No question. It will be cheapest to share a room in an apartment by becoming a subtenant. When you rent an apartment, you will need to know a lot of rules. This article is to brief you on what you ought to know for general orientation.

First thing is to find such offer. University students post their empty rooms on the blackboards on campus. Another possibility will be with classifieds in local magazines. After visiting and testing many possibilities, you finally found something suitable and affordable. Good work!

Landlord permission

From the legal perspective, you will have another landlord and tenant relationship – just like your subletter (the one having the contract with the owner). The next thing that you ought to consider is if the friendly person subletting to you may do so. Generally, it can be possible but typically all rental contracts in Germany prohibit this. Your subletter will have to have permission from his landlord (= owner of the building / condominium) in writing. And what if he doesn’t? When he does not pay the landlord, you can be suddenly and unexpectedly confronted with a court’s bailiff wanting to throw you out of your room.

Deposit

The subletter may only demand a maximum deposit equaling three months’ rent of net rental payment (i.e. excluding utilities). Moreover, you have the right to pay this deposit in three installments, with the first one due at the signing of the contract. Be aware that your landlord is obligated to keep this money separated from his own assets. If you so wish you can ask him to prove he is saving your deposit separately from his own assets.

Yes, you should.

Contract termination

My sub decided to move out. What becomes of my contract? You will have to take over the contract otherwise you have to leave. To take over the contract is a matter of negotiating with your landlord. It is quite likely that it will work – the owner will not have any vacancies. If any arrears exist, then you will be expected to take them over, too. To have them refunded, if possible, will be your problem. Also remember, that the landlord has an interest in keeping his apartment rented.

When you vacate your apartment, you will receive the deposit back with interest – if the apartment is in good shape.

This content has been written by our good friends at Legal Guide to Germany. If you want more assistance on common legal cases or simply understand German law, this is your go-to ressource.

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7 Comments

  • Reply Jesus 12/01/2021 at 18:52

    Hey Bastien,

    I rent a room in a shared flat. I am an international student and will leave Germany for several months to study online during the pandemic. Am I still considered a resident of the house if I sublet my room and someone else lives there while I am gone? Would I have to deregister my address with the municipal authorities?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/01/2021 at 15:32

      Hey Jesus. As the main tenant, you could still be registered there, as long as the landlord is aware of the sublet and allows it. You don’t to unregister if you sublet your flat.

  • Reply Jesus 12/01/2021 at 18:19

    Hey Bastien,

    I am an international student thinking about subletting my room in a flat to a friend, since I will likely not be back in Germany for several months (due to the pandemic and availability of online classes). If I sublet my room, will I still be considered a tenant/resident at the address nevertheless? This won’t cause any issues with my university or the correspondence I would need to receive in Germany?

  • Reply Ganesha 12/01/2021 at 11:23

    Hi Bastien,

    thanks for the article, it’s informative.

    I have one more question and hoping that you have the answer for that, I am moving to Germany on Jan 21st and planning to take a room on sublease, will I be able to get the anmeldung done based the sublet contract? I am moving to Germany for higher studies and I need the anmeldung to get the money out from my blocked account as soon as I come there. any information on this will be really helpful.

    Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/01/2021 at 14:57

      Hey Ganesha. Yes, this is totally possible, as long as the landlord is aware of the sublease. More details in this post.

  • Reply Sohil Jitendrakumar 02/01/2021 at 10:45

    Hey Bastien,

    Thanks for the article.
    Can the lease given by main tenant can be count as legal lease in eye of law?
    I am getting sublease apartment which i have to keep as proof for my wife visa

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/01/2021 at 13:57

      Hey Sohil. In Germany, a sublease is completely legal and valid in the eyes of the law yes.

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