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Wether you are searching for an apartment or a house, the internet is going to be your first starting point. Online, you will find providers who are specialised to act as a broker for apartments and houses. At the same time, many newspapers still offer advertisements for real estate and properties. They may be in printed form or on their websites. Another very useful source are your local newspapers. In addition, you may check out, which local housing companies exist and pay their service centre or office a visit in person.

When house hunting, you also may be getting aid by your competent housing office.The properties that are brokered here, are done so in a direct way. In case that no vacant apartments should be available, you can be referred to other contact persons, respectively other specific housing opportunities may be named.
Last but not least, there is also the possibility to employ or to use the service of a real estate agent. Though be aware that their service comes along with a fee, but therefore the agent will take care of the complete search for a living space.

Real estate agents in Germany are "only " allowed to charge the maximum of two months rent plus value added tax (VAT) for rendering their services. Local contact persons can be found in the telephone book or online in the internet.

Contacting the property supplier

You have found a suitable housing offer? In this case you have to contact the estate owner or the provider as fast as possible. Be it via email or by telephone. In general it can be said, that housing offers are normally gone quite fast.

Federal aid-public housing certificate (Wohnberechtigungsschein)

In Germany, there is another type of living space: Housing that is federally funded or subsidised, so called social housing. Social housing is brokered by the housing departments to people in need. In order to be eligible for social housing you need, what is called a „Public Housing Certificate". In German this is called a „Wohnungsberechtigungsschein", often known as W.B.S.
In case your monthly income is below a certain threshold, you may get the "Wohnungsberechtigungsschein" at your competent housing office. For instance, the following groups are entitled to the certificate: Single parents, families having many children, elderly people or people with disabilities . However, in the end, the property owner decides, if the rental contract will be made and not the housing office.

Information concerning the public housing certificate in the county of Schleswig-Flensburg can be found, if you click on this. More information concerning the housing allowance is available under Social Benefits.

Rental contract

If you are renting a property, you have concluded a rental contact with the owner of a property. It is an important document that governs many details of the tenancy and is legally binding between you and the owner of the property.

The rental contract has to be read thoroughly by you, before you sign it. In general, the rental contract is concluded in written form. However, it can also be done verbally.

Before concluding the rental contract, it is an absolute must that you inform yourself about:

  • the amount of the rent
  • how much the additional costs are (including heating costs)
  • how much the deposit is
  • a possible broker commission, if the property was mediated by an estate agent
  • duration of the rental period
  • period of notice
  • renovation agreements

In addition to the rental contract, a handover certificate is being made when moving in. This has to be signed by you. With your signature you declare that you agree with the current condition the property is in.

Do read the handover certificate very carefully and check all statements. All damages that were not stated within the certificate, the owner can make you accountable for, at a later time.

The deposit

The owner normally requires the deposit in advance upon concluding the rental contract. It may be kept by the owner if the property is in a bad condition or rents have not been paid full or not at all. The deposit cannot exceed the maximum of three months basic rent without additional costs.

Basic rent and operating costs

Besides the rent for the living space (basic rent), operating costs (cold additional costs) have to be paid. Operating costs consist out of costs for heating, water, sewage and more. For example, garbage collection, janitor service or stair cleaning. In general, a certain amount is paid on a monthly basis in advance.

Once a year, the total costs are accounted for with the owner. This bill should be checked by you with care.

House rules

When you have signed the rental contact, you get one copy of it, plus in addition, you also normally get a set of house rules. The house rules regulate the cohabitation of all house inhabitants. Upon signing the rental contract you also declare your consent with the house rules.

Nighttime peace is, independent of any house rules, from 10 pm to 6 am, statutory.

Tenancy law

As a tenant you habe certain obligations, such as the regular payment of the rent or respecting the house rules, but you also have entitlements that you may use. For example, repairs that generally have to be done by the lessor.

If you have any questions concerning the tenancy low, you may contact the German Tenants Association or the local consumer advice centre. Partially these consultations have to be paid for. Prior to the consultation you can inform yourself about how much it will cost you.

Moving, change of address

As soon as you have moved and have a new address, you have the obligation to let the competent registration office know as well.

Upon re-registration you will receive a written certificate that you can present, if necessary, at the bank, the insurance, any additional administration offices and other institutions.

Waste seperation

In Germany, waste is separately collected and disposed of accordingly. To achieve this, different coloured waste containers are used for certain types of waste:

  • Paper and Cardboard = Blue or Green container
  • Organic waste = Brown container
  • Packaging made from plastic or metal = Yellow container
  • All other waste = Grey or Black container

In addition separate containers are used for glass, 2nd. hand clothes, as well as hazardous waste such as paint, toxics etc.

Correct ventilation

Why is so important that we ventilate correctly?

If you ventilate the wrong way, damp spots and moist places will start to form rather quickly in areas near windows and external walls of your living space.They are black in color and are far from being healthy, as it happens to be a type of mould called „Aspergillus-niger". This mould will emit spores, that once they are inhaled by humans, will most likely cause serious chronic pulmonary diseases.

What is the reason that damp spots and areas emerge in a living space?

Cold air is able to store less humidity than warm air is capable of doing so. If there happen to be colder areas within a living space, air that is saturated with water vapor, will always set free water. At first there will be the emergence of wet patches and then soon followed by the infamous black ones.

Where does the moisture originate from?

Where people are living, all kinds of activities take place that add moisture to the existent air. It is being cooked, showers are taken, moist towels are hanged up. But also a washing machine. Every human dispenses via exhaling an estimated 1,5 litres of water per day. All these sources combined, form the water vapour within the air around us.

How are we able to regulate the amount of moisture, so that we can avoid the emergence of the black disease causing patches?

Colder air is able to store less moisture than warm air.

It has to be taken care of that the warmed up air in a living space is exchanged for cool air from outside. Ventilation has to take place. Imagine the following figuratively: When ventilating, between one and two buckets of water are being transported together with the warmed up air from inside to outdoors. The air is exchanged for fresh air from outside, that has stored less humidity eg. less water. Once inside, the colder air is slowly warmed up by people, walls, furniture, appliances and as such is able to store more moisture. Ventilating again, takes care of another two buckets of water and the cycle repeats itself. Ventilating this way makes sure that a living space remains sufficiently dry and moist spots do normally not occur.

How to ventilate correctly?

It is highly recommended to ventilate every 4. hours. In doing so, it means to open up the windows wide, and it has to be ensured that passage is achieved. So open the windows and doors in as many rooms as possible and after approximately 5-10 minutes the warm moist air is exchanged with the cooler dry one from outside. Moisture has then left the living space.

Continuous ventilating, however, has the effect that the air cannot be heated up properly within the house. In the areas around the open windows, colder spots will start to appear than in the rest of the living space. This colder air can hardly be heated up and as such is able to store less moisture.

But as the moisture is still present, it will adhere to the colder areas around the windows and outer ceilings. As a result you will have the dreaded black mould spots in no time at all!

Shortly before going to sleep you should ventilate intensively. If you leave your windows open during the night, it will be the cause not only the issues described before, but also your bed linens will become moist. Now moist bed linen creates the next ideal habitat for house dust mites. The excrements of these small dust mites are equally to cause severe pulmonary diseases. So take care that you are ventilating thoroughly on a regular basis, then completely close the windows again for at least 4.hours and that you do so for a minimum of 4. times a day.

This type of ventilating a living space is called "Stoßlüften" in Germany. Perhaps best translated by calling it "ventilating intensively" as there is no english word for "Stosslueften".

Continuously ventilating has to be absolutely avoided, as it is a serious health hazard!

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