Everything you need to know about accommodation
We provide you with an overview of the different types of accommodation available as well as other useful information you need to bear in mind with regard to your first home away from home:
Before you start: Also check out the mover´s checklist for lots of useful information. Our advice: Do not leave reading this to the last moment.
Types of accommodation – at a glance:
student residence halls
Student residence halls are operated by Studentenwerk Halle (Student Services Halle), a public-law institution. The statutory tasks of Studentenwerk are outlined in Studentenwerksgesetz (Student Services Act – www.studentenwerk-halle.de/wir-ueber-uns)
Student residence halls – the key facts:
You have the choice between single apartments, double apartments and group apartments. Depending on your choice, you have your own place or share with other students.
For a single apartment, the rental space stated refers to the entire apartment, whereas the rental space for double and group apartments also includes a proportion of the shared space, e.g. kitchen and bath.
Student residence halls are located in the town centre as well as close to the university campus.
You always pay an 'all-inclusive rent', i.e. there will be no further invoices for operating costs at a later stage.
Most student residence halls are connected to the university data network, providing you with fast Internet access as well as access to university network resources such as online library catalogues.
Renting your own apartment allows you to make all the important decisions yourself, who to share with – or not to share at all, and also how to arrange things in your new home.
You are, on the other hand, also responsible for a lot of things. Consequently, paying for the entire consumption and covering the annual invoice for operating costs is entirely your business.
Rented apartments – the key facts
You are the boss and need to sort everything out yourself.
The rent is generally stated excluding service charges. You need to cover these charges and they are made up of utility costs (heating and warm water provision) and operating costs, e.g. maintenance costs for cleaning and repairs etc. The amount of utility costs very much depends on your personal consumption. You may, therefore, be told a reference figure when you sign your rental contract, but what you actually pay at the end of a year (or month) is up to you. On top of that there is going to be a contract with one of the many electricity providers for the supply of domestic electricity.
The rental space comprises the space of the entire apartment.
Sharing a apartment offers some advantages, because you share not only the flat but also the costs with your fellow students..
Shared apartments – the key facts:
You may share with at least one other and at most 5 other people (thus sharing as six tenants).
The rent and the service charges, i.e. utility costs are detailed described in the offer as depending on the housing company sometimes the rent includes costs as heating, warm water etc. and sometimes it does not.
Everyone in the apartment is a main tenant and thus mentioned by name in the rental contract with the landlord. The rental contract states that the property is let as a shared apartment. This is the 'classic' apartment-share case. The landlord deals with a number of tenants, not just one, and the tenants can usually demand that someone else can move in once a member of the shared apartment has moved out. Everyone in the contract is also liable for the full rent of the apartment, not just his/her share.
This means: If one flatmate does not pay his/her share, the others are legally bound to pay the missing share. This joint liability extends to all areas, not just rental payments: All tenants are liable for any damages in the apartment. This obviously requires a certain trust between the tenants. Additional claims for operating costs or deposits affect all tenants.
A rental contract can only be terminated by all the tenants mentioned in the contract. If the individual tenants cannot agree on acting together, every tenant in a shared apartment is entitled to terminate the shared apartment as a community (article 723 BGB) and then demand agreement to termination of the tenancy from the other tenants. The ensuing lawsuit may delay a solution for a long time. As the termination is not operative in such a case, the rent would still need to be paid. At the same time, the landlord may only give notice to all tenants or none.
Just a few more aspects to finish of with. They may seem obvious because they are common and talked about on a daily basis. Looking at them, though, they are not quite so clear cut …
The rental contract – key facts
By signing a rental contract, the landlord is bound to leave residential property for use by the tenant and also to ensure it is kept in the state laid out in the contract. As the tenant, you are bound by contract to use the place only for what is stated in the contract and to pay a fixed amount of money for this use, i.e. the rent. Furthermore, you bind yourself to paying utility costs for water, heating etc.
A rental contract requires a minimal agreement on
who is the tenant and who the landlord, which apartment is let/rented, when does the tenancy start and how much rent has to be paid.
Rental contracts do not require any particular form, they may be entered into orally or in writing. Oral contracts are rare, though.
The tenant giving notice
Giving notice for an indefinite rental contract.
The tenant does not need to give a reason for giving due notice.
If there are no other agreements, tenants are required by law to give notice three months before the date they want the rental contract to end (notice period).
Any other agreement with regard to the notice period becomes invalid if it is to the tenant's disadvantage.
Notice has to be given in writing and needs to be signed by all parties to a contract (tenants as per contract). The notice needs to reach the landlord by the third working day of a calendar month to include that month in the three-month notice period. (art. 573c, sect. 1 BGB). If the notice reaches the landlord later than that, the notice period extends by another month.
A reason must always be given by the landlord for terminating a tenancy. Own needs or demolition of the house are likely reasons. Apart from that, a landlord may only terminate a tenancy if the tenant disregards his/her duties, i.e. rent arrears (outstanding rental payments) or does not conduct himself/herself appropriately in any other matter.
Extended notice periods for the landlord
The length of the tenancy may extend the legal notice period, which is binding for the landlord. A tenancy of more than five years extends the notice period to six months, a tenancy of more than eight years to nine months.
Proving that the notice has reached the landlord
Please note! A notice needs to be delivered (reach the landlord) in such a way it can be proved if necessary in a dispute. This is possible in three ways:
Registered mail (Einwurfeinschreiben) or registered mail with advice of receipt (Einschreiben und Rückschein)
Delivering the notice into the letter box of the landlord or caretaker in the presence of a witness. The witness should know the contents of the notice.
Personally handing the notice to the landlord or caretaker and getting a confirmation that the notice has been received on your personal copy of the notice (else: get a witness – cf. above)