Normally in Germany you´ll check in the local newspapers or on the internet and then get directly iknto contact with the landlord for a visit to the new place. Be warned that in Germany you usually rent a flat completely empty, this means that you´ll have to provide your own furniture including kitchen furniture and household appliances (cooking range,kitchen sink washing machine, lamps etc.), unless it is olffered as "Möbliert" (furnished, which is rare).
You will also often have to re-decorate the place (wallpaper, paint). Most Germans do it themselves.
Landlords usually demand a deposit of 2-3 basic monthly rents as a safeguard against you not paying the rent or damaging the flat. You are supposed to get it returned (including the interest on it, the landlord has to put it on a savings account and can´t use it unless you default) when you m ove out and have fullfilled all obligations.
Rents in Germany are divided into a basic rent plus expenses. The expenses include rubbish removal, janitor services and house maintenance, water, sevage house insurance and tax. The landlord has to give you an exact breakdown once a year.
We also distinguish between a "warm" ( "Warmmiete") rent and a "cold" ("Kaltmiete") one. The warm one includes heating and often water heating.
Electricity and telephone are usually not included in the rent.
You usually have to give three months notice on moving out and leave the place in a decorated condition (usually the cheapest "Rauhfaser" wallpaper and white paint is enough if it looks neat).
The renting contracts are usually unlimited unless you agree to a limited contract. The rents are limited to within a certain range around the local average depending on the quality of the flat.
Best take a local person who knows German customs and laws with you as you could be ripped off easily.
Typical abbreviations in housing adds are:
Z = Zimmer (rooms) In Germany only bedrooms and living room get counted, kitchen, storerooms or corridors are not included.
KDB = Küche (kitchen), Dusche (shower), Bad (Bathroom)
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