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Make sure to read the fine print Whether you rent an apartment or a house, a rental contract must be signed. In most cases, this contract is a pre-printed version of the document recommended by the Tenants Society of Germany (Deutscher Mieterbund e.V.). The contract should include:

  • Name of tenant and landlord
  • What has been rented (apartment address, number of square meters, and other extras, such as built-in kitchen, garage, etc.)
  • The amount of the rent
  • A stipulation, if any, regarding rental increases
  • The tenancy start date
  • Utilities, individually specified
  • The number of people moving in
  • Other rental conditions (in case of breach, conditions for subletting, etc.)
  • The landlord's bank account details
  • The condition of the property when you moved in (i.e. renovated or unrenovated)
  • An inventory of what is included in the rent
  • The landlord's consent to keep pets
  • The amount of the security deposit (usually three months' rent)
  • How the security deposit should be paid

Be aware that most rental agreements stipulate that the tenant renovates the apartment - returning it to its original state - when the lease expires and prior to departure. Make sure the contract specifies this, i.e. what needs to be painted, replaced, sanded down and re-varnished, replanted and repaired.

The duration of all rental contracts is unlimited with a three-month cancellation period. There are, however, some exceptions to the rule. German rental law is complex, and signing a contract without a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities can be a costly experience. It is advisable to have the contract checked by your company or a lawyer.

If you do have trouble with your landlord, you might want to consult an English-speaking attorney. You can also contact one of the several tenant advisory centers in your region, which offer legal advice and representation. The membership fee of 50-70 euros also includes legal insurance. Note that there is a three-month waiting period after you join before the legal insurance takes effect.

To find an advisory center contact:
Deutscher Mieterbund e.V.
Littenstraße 10, 10179 Berlin
Tel: 030 / 2 23 23 - 0
Fax: 030 / 2 23 23 - 100
www.mieterbund.de

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On Monday 5 February will we learn more about the American German Business Club in Frankfurt. AGBC President Vera Thiers will provide an overview of this very active business club and also provide insight into its Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow startup competition, which is celebrating its 10th anniverary this year.

 

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