When you lease an apartment, you can expect to pay a deposit of one to three months rent. However, this payment will be returned to you – with interest – when you move out, provided you leave the apartment in an orderly condition. Details are in your lease.
An apartment is considered leased as soon as you and the landlord have signed the lease agreement. With your signature, you are legally bound as recognizing the points covered in the lease. Therefore, it is extremely important to carefully read this very extensive document and all its provisos, including the fine print, before you sign.
In particular, a lease covers the price of rent, additional costs, periods for giving notice, payments for any necessary repairs, payments for cleaning and refurbishing before moving out, the period of the rental agreement and conditions for any raise in rent. In addition, it can also contain special agreements (such as the use of yards, parking spaces etc.). If you wish to bring your pets, be sure to speak with your landlord in advance about whether this is permitted.
The lease will also contain the general house rules, for instance prohibiting excessive noise before 7 a.m., between 1 and 3 p.m. and after 10 p.m. They may also state how often and by whom common areas (stairs, entrance hall, basement) are to be cleaned.
Support, disputes and risks
If you do not understand parts of the lease or have the feeling you are being given unusual demands, seek by all means the help of your German colleagues. When in doubt, you can always contact the German Tenants Union (Deutscher Mieterbund - DMB), and its local section the Mieterverein München, which will give you information about the legality of those conditions.
Before moving into an apartment you have let, make sure to arrange an appointment with your landlord for the official transfer of the apartment when you can inspect it for any flaws (cracks, stains, wear, damage etc.). Note all damages in writing, even if they appear minor. Otherwise you risk losing part of your deposit as payment for repairs when you move out because the assumption will be that these damages were caused by you. Your list of damages should be co-signed by the landlord and remain in your possession.