Accommodation in Frankfurt
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Most expats relocate to Frankfurt for a definite period of time and therefore renting accommodation in Frankfurt is a more common choice than buying property. Frankfurt has a variety of accommodation options for every type of expat.
Rent in Frankfurt is relatively high compared to other German cities. Apartments are commonly found in the city centre and as one moves further out to the suburbs it is possible to find more and more large family 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.
Finding accommodation in Frankfurt
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.
The tenant is responsible for the agent fee which is around twice the amount of the basic 'cold rent' on a property. In addition, most landlords will ask for two or three months' rental as a security deposit.
It is advisable to obtain proof from the landlord that he has kept the security deposit in a separate account from the monthly rent.
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, no agency fees are involved, and the only way to contact the 'landlord' is via email, the advertisement is more than likely a scam.
It is also fairly common to use newspapers to look for apartments, but this requires a fairly good understanding of German.
Renting property in Frankfurt
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.
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.
Mainova is the main service provider in the Rhein-Main region of Germany and so 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.
Furnished versus unfurnished properties in Frankfurt
The majority of rental properties in Frankfurt are unfurnished. It is also fairly common to find properties without kitchens. Hence, it is important to factor in the cost of buying a kitchen if the property is without one. It is important to check with the landlord or agent as to what is provided before signing the papers.
In Germany, tenants either paint the apartment when they first move in or before they move out. It is advisable to paint the walls with generally acceptable colours to save the trouble of repainting them before moving out.
There are advantages and disadvantages to renting an unfurnished apartment. For expats who do not plan on living in Frankfurt for a long period of time, it may be more economical to rent a furnished place. Those who are looking to live in the city for a couple of years or more do tend to engage the services of a relocation company to ship their furniture from their home country to Frankfurt.
Temporary short-term accommodation in Frankfurt
Unless their company has provided long-term accommodation, most expats usually rent short-term accommodation while they find another place. Short-term accommodation can be furnished or unfurnished. All utility costs are usually included.
Similarly, tenants are liable for the agent fees incurred for short-term accommodation. However, the costs incurred should be pro rata if the tenancy is for less than 12 months.
Putting in an offer on a property in Frankfurt
The demand for property in Frankfurt is high among both expats and Germans as Frankfurt is a relatively small but intercultural city with lots to offer in Continental Europe.
Upon viewing an apartment which seems to meet an individual's requirements, expats should not hesitate to put in an offer. Haggling is not an option in Frankfurt since the landlord is likely to have other potential tenants who are interested in their property as well. Unfortunately, securing a rental property does not work on a first come, first served basis. The landlords usually have a handful of applicants to select from.
As tenants are well protected in Germany by the Tenants’ Protection Association, landlords will only rent their place to someone they can trust and get along with.
For expats who do not speak any German, it is worth enlisting the services of an agent. Tenants are only required to pay the agent fees once they have successfully signed a rental agreement. However, expats should note that once the papers are signed and the keys have been handed over, the agent’s job is done. The tenant then assumes the responsibility of liaising with the landlord for any issues that may occur during the tenancy.