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Most expats relocate to Frankfurt for a fixed period of time and renting accommodation in Frankfurt is therefore more common than buying. The city has a variety of accommodation options for every type of expat, although newcomers should note that rent in Frankfurt is relatively high compared to other German cities.
Types of accommodation in Frankfurt
Apartments are commonly found in the city centre, while families can look towards the suburbs for larger homes. There are plenty of apartment units in historical buildings built in the 1900s that have been modernised by landlords. The majority of expats choose to live in the city, and therefore typically rent apartments rather than houses. Flatsharing is a popular option among young expats as it is a great way to save money and meet new people.
Housing in Frankfurt is generally unfurnished, and we recommend that expats consider investing in some basic items of furniture. It may come as a surprise to some that unfurnished properties in Frankfurt are typically empty, often without carpets, light fittings or white appliances. The advantage of this is that tenants are allowed more leeway in terms of decor. While many people do paint their apartments, tenants are required to repaint in white or neutral colours at the end of a lease.
Finding accommodation in Frankfurt
Expats who are transferred by a company are usually assisted by their employer in securing suitable housing. For those without such luxury, the best place to start the search for a home in Frankfurt would be online. While some sites and accommodation portals may provide listings, it is always beneficial to have some knowledge of German terminology.
While rental costs are generally cheaper in Frankfurt than those in other major cities such as London, New York and Paris, expats should beware of false advertisements online. If rent is really low for a huge apartment, there are no agency fees involved, and the only way to contact the 'landlord' is via email, the advertisement is more than likely a scam.
Another efficient and stress-free way of finding accommodation in Frankfurt is by using the services of a reputable agency, which usually has intimate knowledge of the city's property market and can assist new arrivals in finding a home that meets all their requirements. It is important to note that estate agents in Frankfurt do charge a fee for their services.
Renting accommodation in Frankfurt
The demand for property in Frankfurt is high among both expats and locals. Upon viewing an apartment that meets a house hunter's requirements, they shouldn't hesitate to put in an offer. Haggling is not an option in Frankfurt as the landlord is likely to have other potential tenants interested in the property. Unfortunately, securing a rental property does not work on a first come, first served basis. The landlords usually have a handful of applicants to choose from.
As tenants are well protected in Germany by the Tenants’ Protection Association, landlords will only rent their place to someone they trust and get along with.
Before expats start renting a property in Frankfurt, they should note that it is mandatory to purchase home insurance. There are plenty of home insurance service providers in Germany ranging from banks to private insurance providers. It is also fairly common to purchase Third Party Liability insurance in Germany, which can be quite extensive. The type of cover one requires should be discussed with a professional advisor, especially if the rental property includes assets belonging to the landlord.
Making an application
Once expats have found a property they like, they will be expected to complete a detailed application form and provide evidence of their income and legal status in the country. In some cases, they may be asked for a reference from a previous landlord or a certificate (Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung) indicating they have no outstanding rent due.
Leases and deposits
Most landlords ask for up to three months' rent to cover the security deposit on a place in Berlin. The deposit is refundable and is usually returned at the end of the tenancy, provided there are no damages to the property. Otherwise, cleaning or repair costs will be taken out of the deposit before the balance is refunded. It is advisable to obtain proof from the landlord that he has kept the security deposit in a separate account from the monthly rent.
Most contracts do not have a specific end date. Expats need to notify the landlord if they wish to terminate their rental contract and this should be done in writing, three months in advance. As rental contracts are in German, expats are advised to consult someone who knows the language to go through each clause to fully comprehend the terms and conditions.
New arrivals should note that there is 'cold rent' and 'warm rent' in Germany. The ‘warm rent’ includes heating and miscellaneous costs but excludes electricity. ‘Cold rent’ excludes the cost of all utilities.
Mainova is the main service provider in the Rhein-Main region of Germany and most expats living in Frankfurt will use this company as their utility supplier.
Utility bills are based on an approximate rate, which is dependent on the size of the apartment and the number of people living there. The monthly repayments can be adjusted accordingly and the company issues an annual invoice stipulating the actual amount used and if there are any outstanding payments to be made. If one has paid more than the amount used for the year, they should receive a refund from the company.