Formalities – good to know
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.
Keep in mind that rental contracts have deadlines for regular and early contract termination. To avoid extra costs you should pay close attention to the deadlines of your contract. If you want to terminate your contract earlier than originally agreed upon, you will need your landlord’s agreement and usually have to find a new tenant. Also do not forget to remove all your belongings from the apartment and to leave it clean and tidy. Make sure that all walls are clean and painted the same colour as they were before you moved in.
Also check out our moving-out checklist.
All kinds of accommodation require a security deposit of two to three monthly rents. This amount is to be refunded at the end of the leasing period, if you leave the place in good condition.
Transferring your deposit - watch out! Be cautious when it comes to transferring deposits.
Please be extremely cautious if:
- You are asked to arrange a payment through Western Union or make another international transfer. This usually renders identification and prosecution of those receiving the money impossible.
- The landlord offers to send the keys via mail. This is not a common practice in Germany.
- The landlord does not agree to arrange a viewing of the accommodation.
Only pay the deposit when:
- You have seen the accommodation (if you are already in Germany);
- You have signed the rental contract;
- You have received the keys.
In case you cannot go to a viewing of the accommodation yourself, you could ask a friend or acquaintance to check the offered place for you. Or you could arrange a viewing of the accommodation via Skype etc.
If you are going to live in a student dormitory, Studentenwerk will issue this form for you. If you are living somewhere else, the person who is letting you the room must issue this form. This person could either be your landlord, a person that is authorized by your landlord or the main tenant (in case you are the subtenant).
The housing certificate "Wohnungsgeberbestätigung"
You need this certificate for your registration at the Residents' Registration Office. Anyone staying in Göttingen for more than three months is required to register at the city's residents' registration office within the first two weeks after arrival.
Here you will find additional information about registration and deregistration.
In case you have any questions concerning tenancy law (leasing contracts, deposits, cancellation periods etc.) the General Students’ Committee AStA provides legal consultation for free for all enrolled students. Appointments can be arranged via the AStA administration office:
email, phone: 0551 – 39 34564
Every household in Germany must pay the broadcasting fee (Rundfunkbeitrag) regardless of whether you use the service or not. The broadcasting fee finances public service programming on the radio, internet and television. The fee is currently €18.36 per month. You will receive a letter automatically by post once you have registered with the city.
You can find additional useful information on the broadcasting fee (for instance, how it works for shared flats) on the Studentenwerks website or direclty at the website of the Public Broadcasting Service Fee "Rundfunkbeitrag".
The International Office
Mondays 10-12 h
Accommodation service for international students
Phone: 0551 39-21790
Accommodation service for international exchange students
Phone: 0551 39-21338