TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe

In principle, rent contracts in Germany have to be finalized in writing. These contracts typically specify a base monthly rent (Kaltmiete), which only covers the cost of renting the space in question. In most cases, the amount of money you transfer to your landlord every month will also include some ancillary costs for the utilities and services you are provided. The utilities and services covered by these ancillary costs can vary from contract to contract, so be sure to ask prospective landlords what is included and what you may still have to pay for before signing any rent contract. 

Meanwhile, the monthly payments you make in the form of ancillary and maintenance costs can sometimes be higher than the net rent required by your landlord. The costs can include (but are not limited to):

  • Water (including warm)
  • Heating
  • Electricity
  • Garbage collection
  • Wastewater


You may also end up having to pay for the following:

  • Building cleaning, a building caretaker, chimney sweeping, outdoor maintenance
  • Different forms of insurance
  • Cable television service
  • Shared facilities


Remember, your home's ancillary costs can vary based on:

  • How many people live there (which affects how much water and electricity you use in particular)
  • How many rooms you have and which see use (influences how much heating you need)
  • The home's structural integrity (better insulation means lower heating costs, for example)
  • Any additional appointments you need to pay for (if your building has an elevator or a backyard, for instance)

You will settle most ancillary costs through advance monthly payments that are based on estimates of your consumption. After each year passes, the costs of your actual consumption will then be calculated. While you will be reimbursed if you consume less than expected, you may also be required to make additional payments after the fact -- if you used more water than estimated for your home, for example. This is why we recommend checking the amounts on your meters on a regular basis and adjusting your advance payments as necessary.

Please note:

Not all of the costs associated with a house or apartment may be billed to you as a tenant. If you're ever in doubt, find out which ancillary costs are transferable and which are not. To get help from the experts with any issue concerning apartments or renting, you can contact your local tenants' association. These organizations can be found in every larger city, including in Karlsruhe and Baden-Baden.

When you move into a new rented home, you will usually need to provide the landlord with a deposit, as well. This is a certain amount of money meant to serve as a type of security for the landlord. Paying a deposit enables the landlord to ensure that all of your expenses will be paid if and when you move out. In principle, landlords are required to transfer deposits into an account that is separate from their own assets and provide interest equal to the amount banks offer on savings deposits that are redeemable at three month's notice. Other forms of investment are also allowed, as long as they are agreed on between you and your landlord. If and when you move out of your house or apartment, your landlord will be required to return your deposit to you along with the interest accrued. However, you will only be entitled to the full amount if you have met all of the landlord's requirements in terms of paying all of the rent and ancillary costs due. Your landlord may also use your deposit to repair any damages caused to the residence by you, your guests, or any subtenants.

A deposit must not exceed the amount of three monthly rent payments (not including ancillary costs) and can be rendered to a landlord in three equal monthly installments. The first of these installments is typically due at the start of a given rent contract.

Tip:

You can either pay a deposit directly to your landlord or place the same amount in a security deposit at a bank. If you choose the latter option, the bank will be liable for any of your landlord's claims up to the amount of the deposit.

Since homes in Germany are seldom rented out with furnishings, a tenant who is moving out may give you the chance to assume ownership of a number of appointments (a built-in kitchen or closet, for example, or carpeting). If you decide to pay the corresponding fee, the items in question will then belong to you. Here, it's important to make sure that the previous tenant is not asking for more than the current value of these items; this depends on their age, condition, and original price. Of course, you are under no obligation to purchase any furnishings from a previous tenant.