Contractual obligations are taken very seriously in Germany. Once you have signed a contract, your landlord expects you to fully comply with all contractual obligations. Read the rental contract (Mietvertrag) thoroughly, and make sure that you fully understand each and every detail. What exactly does your monthly rent include? Are you responsible for cleaning the staircase? Do you have to renovate the rooms when you move in or out? In case of doubt, it is advisable to have someone to help you understand the contract before you sign it.
A signed rental contract is legally binding. A contract in Germany needs to be issued in German to be legally viable, although an English translation can be attached for your convencience.
The rental contract stipulates all the details and conditions of your rental agreement. Usually, you have to pay the first rent and the security deposit (two or three months’ rent) in advance. The deposit is to be refunded at the end of the lease. If applicable, costs for damages done to rooms or appliances, cleaning the rooms, or outstanding rent are deduced from the deposit.
Please be cautious when you are asked to transfer money in advance. You might be falling for a scam. Do not transfer money in advance unless you are 100% certain that the offer is legitimate and that the rental agreement is authentic and signed.
Also check out our moving-in checklist.
At the beginning of the lease period, you will meet your landlord or his/her representative to receive the keys and to formally take over the room or apartment. It is very advisable to fill out a flat transfer protocol and take photos of your room/apartment/flat in order to document its condition. This will protect you against unsubstantiated claims when moving out.