Best Sites To Find an Apartment in Germany
Last updated: 13 April 2020 / by Sam Williams
A note about COVID-19: This guide is based on the general rules, but there may be some temporary restrictions in place due to the presence of the COVID-19 virus. We are keeping the situation under close review and will update our guidance as necessary.
Having a home where you feel comfortable and can relax is necessary, but it is not always easy finding the right place – especially when you are searching in a new country.
There are many ways to find an apartment in Germany; this guide shows you where to look and explains what you will need.
Best Estate Agent and Property Sites
More than 8 of 10 people in Berlin rent their homes, so there is a vast amount of choice.
You might decide to use an estate agent to make life easier. These are known as Makler and although they are a big help, there will be a higher cost.
Germany has laws which stipulate who is responsible for any fees; these are the responsibility of the person who instructs the agent. Therefore, if you have an agent working actively to find property for you, there will be fees levied.
Conversely, if you are browsing through ads where the landlord has instructed the agent, they will be responsible for payment of any fees.
It is possible to find some agents that do not charge fees at all; look out for ads that specify “provisionsfreie“.
Some of the best housing agencies and estate agents to try:
Online searches will help you to get alerted to the newest properties as soon as they hit the market. This can give you the best chance of making the shortlist.
Some of the top property portals online include:
These are some of the largest property portals in Germany and you will find that flat-sharing is included readily on almost every site.
This is because flat-sharing is viewed as a normal and commonplace option for accommodation and not just limited to youngsters and students, as is the case elsewhere.
Social media can play a big part in finding apartments and houses to rent.
Facebook is an excellent way to find ads for available housing. Some of the Berlin groups you might want to check out include:
You can pick up some great bargains through social media as you will not have to pay the steep estate agents’ costs.
You will need to be confident to deal with landlords directly and speaking German can be helpful with this. However, it is not always necessary, and you will find lots of groups that are explicitly geared towards ex-pats (such as those above).
Documents You Will Need
Once you find a place you’d like to live, you will need to go through the formalities to be accepted.
As with most types of transactions in Germany, there are certain documents that you will be expected to provide. These include:
- A copy of your ID card or passport (a driving license will not suffice)
- Proof of income – this could be your last three payslips, or for the self-employed your tax assessment (known as Steuerbescheid). A bank statement showing your savings may also be acceptable.
- A SCHUFA record – this is the German credit file that every resident gradually acquires. For new arrivals, the SCHUFA will be empty, which could be problematic for rentals (solution here).
- Possibly a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung – this is a type of certificate from your last landlord which confirms your rent was up to date
- Visas required to live in Germany (if any)
Some of these may be difficult to provide if you are new to Germany. Any other form of independent documentation will help your case, along with a letter from your employer, if you can get one.
Insurance is vital while you are in Germany, and you’ll discover that most Germans opt for private liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherungsnachweis). Private liability insurance protects the landlord if you damage the property in some way. Home contents will cover your belongings, such as a TV or cooker, should a mishap occur.
Even though they are not a legal necessity, you could be at a distinct advantage compared to other potential tenants if you do not have one or both.
SCHUFA is integral to being able to access a range of financial features in Germany. Still, it will take a while to build up a good rating.
If you just arrived in Germany, you cannot have good SCHUFA.
While this is a barrier, there are some solutions if you want to rent your own home. Some landlords and letting agencies may be willing to allow you to rent a furnished property if you pay a little more. This “premium” covers the additional risk they are taking by accepting a tenant with an unknown background.
You are now ready to start looking for your new German home!
Remember, there is lots of competition, but if you persist and try multiple sources, you are sure to succeed. Happy hunting!