Monthly Archives - March 2017

Subletting an Apartment in Berlin

Contents of the article:

  • Can I sublet a private apartment in Berlin’s rental market?
  • What do tenants look for?
  • Opportunities for private apartments on the furnished rental market

 

We often see private apartments offered as sublets, that is, apartments that will be rented out for a specific period of time because the owner or primary tenant will be away temporarily for some time — this can be years, or just a few months. Whether you are an owner or tenant, watch out: f you want to sublet your own apartment for a considerable legnth of time, you should advertize it at an early stage. Despite the general housing shortage in Berlin, it is not always easy to find a sub-tenant. And agencies are not always the right people to talk to.

 

 

Good private apartment for subetting in Berlin

1. Which apartments sublet and let easily?

Most apartments offered on a temporary basis are apartments that have been furnished for temporary rental. Please note that this means temporary rental, and not vacation accommodation. These apartments are rented to people who come to Berlin to work or to further their education (e.g. through a language course.) This is very important, because renting to tourists is (mostly) illegal.

These apartments are available without any time limit. This does not mean, however, that tenants can rent for an unlimited time. But with these apartments, it is possible to conclude a lease for a certain period of time and perhaps extend it later, often even several times. The temporary tenant therefore should be flexible. Projects often take longer than expected, or you may not find your own unfurnished apartment in Berlin all that quickly.

Previously, about 6 years ago, it was reasonably easy to find a tenant for a private apartment which would only be rented for a certain period of time. Since then, however, the market has changed. Nowadays, one finds almost only “temporary rented apartments.” And since the prohibition on vacation apartments, there has even been an oversupply of temporary-rented apartments, since many apartments now offered for temporary renting were offered as vacation accommodation in the past. So oversupply should again be considered in context. There are many offers, but quality is still in high demand and good apartments at a reasonable price still rent out very well.

Apartments that are easily rented are:

  • Equipped and furnished in such a way that a particular target group will be interested.
  • Modern, tastefully and stylishly furnished — no mix of old and new furniture.
  • or, as in the example above, a style that is not necessarily considered modern should be uniformly revised. There is also a demand for high-quality accessories, as shown here. Less, however, than for modernly furnished apartments, which appeal to a younger audience.
    .

2. Disadvantages for tenants renting a sublet

2.1. Limited-time availability

From a prospective tenant’s viewpoint, the time-limited availability is a disadvantage. Tenants want to be flexible. For this reason, they often rent for a shorter period of time, e.g. for 2 or 3 months, but with an extension option. If an apartment is only available for 4 months, most tenants will not be interested, since no tenant wants to move more often than necessary.

For example, if you go away for exactly one year and are looking for a sub-tenant over exactly this period, it can also be difficult to find someone who is looking to rent for a year as from exactly the month in which your apartment becomes available, and then also wants to rent specifically your apartment. If they want to rent your apartment one month later for one year, your apartment will not be available, because it is only available for 11 months. Therefore, it is always better if the landlord is flexible and offers the apartment for shorter letting periods as well. This implies that more effort will be needed. The handover, final cleaning, etc., need to be organized, and you will need someone who will take good care of your apartment.

 

2.2. Sublets lack “neutral” furnishing

Typically, apartments furnished for temporary rental look more like hotel accommodations: modern, furnished in a uniform style, clean, elegant, without personal items (e.g. books, CD collections, plants etc.) Nothing against books and CDs, but these do not necessarily add value for the tenants during temporary renting. Rather, they make the tenant feel more like a guest living in another person’s world. Not everyone likes that. Especially if there are enough other alternatives.
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2.3. Extra “processing” work

Suppose a landlord offers a private apartment for subletting for 4 months, from December 1st to March 31st. Many people spend the winter months in regions with a warmer climate.

The problem is as follows:

  1. December is the worst month. There is still some demand, but significantly less than during the rest of the year. Almost nobody starts a job in Berlin in December, because before the middle of the month, everything and everybody is already in the Christmas and end-of-the-year mode. For this reason it would be more realistic to find a tenant from the beginning of January.
    If, however, the landlord has already left at this time, someone in the vicinity has to take care of the apartment and do some checking in. Then questions will follow, and possibly the landlord is also still in a place without reliable internet connection. In doing so, the person responsible for the apartment must be able to reach the apartment during the entire rental period. For example, if there is water damage (not that the tenant should be to blame), the landlord has to act quickly.
  2. There usually is more to discuss than for a “neutral” apartment — bed linen, towels, etc. Does the tenant bring their own, do they use the landlord’s (then everything must be new and unused), or must everything be bought new? Which items have to be removed, bought or supplemented? Often, the mailbox must also be emptied or plants watered.
    In addition, the landlord rents their own home and has a more emotional connection to it than to an apartment which serves only as an investment object.
    All of this makes the processing work more time-consuming.

3. Opportunities: sub-renting a private apartment

Of course, how easy a sublet apartment can be rented depends on the apartment. In most cases, only the following private housing can be sublet as temporary housing:
– family apartments with several bedrooms in a good location, especially centrally in the city
– preferably in summer months (then also for a shorter period)
– high-quality, rather designer-oriented furnishing
– apartments without private linen, towels, etc.

 

3.1. Lower rental price

The disadvantages from the tenant’s point of view have already been mentioned. For these reasons, for most private apartments, it does not necessarily make sense to include a profit on or to add a surcharge for the furniture. The goal should be to cover your own costs. With a short sublet of only a few months, this is sometimes not possible. Here you should decide whether you want to rent out and to minimize your own costs and possibly not offer your apartment for sub-letting for a few months. During the winter months, it is always more difficult — the chances of renting your apartment are much higher in the summer. We get many requests in January or February for apartments in June or July, usually just for a rental period of a few months, from professors, language students, etc.

 

3.2. Other platforms

If a temporary renting agency tells you that it cannot not find a sub-tenant for your apartment, we recommend you try platforms. For example, home exchange websites, student platforms, etc. These sites have a different target group than agencies.

 

3.3. Offering rented accommodation

In case of a very long absence, do not rent as a temporary apartment but as a rented apartment. Perhaps empty. And find the right tenant for it. Less effort, regular rent. You can specify true reasons for limitations.

 

3.4. Renting for shorter periods

You can also try to rent out the apartment for shorter periods of time and plan for frequent tenant changes. This may be difficult, however, if you are a tenant and you need the landlord’s approval for subletting. Often the landlord does not want a change of tenants during the absence of the main tenant.

If you are renting to several tenants, however, you need someone who will take competent and reliable care of the apartment, do the handing- and taking-over, and will be the contact person if something does not work (and will fix it.) Professional administrative agencies usually do not work with private apartments, or only in exceptional cases (if the apartment is to be rented for several years, the accessories and furniture are such that the apartment can be easily rented, the location is good, etc.)

 

3.5. Conclusion

There are more than enough temporary rental apartments offered in Berlin. There are good opportunities for private apartments that are suitable for families and are well equipped, if the price is right. Of course, the information given here is very general, intended to explain the peculiarities and possible difficulties with renting a private apartment.

The Wohnungsgeberbestaetigung (landlord’s confirmation of residence– obligatory, even for temporary rentals)

Do tenants of furnished flats also need a confirmation of residence?

In November 2015, the new German Federal Registration Act (Meldegesetz) came into force. Tenants must now provide a “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung” (a form signed by the owner, proving that the tenant actually has rented a specific apartment) when they register at the Bürgeramt (local municipal office). The new law is intended to prevent ‘fake’ registrations.
What some don’t know, though, is that the law also applies to temporary rentals. Tenants who are already registered in Germany must only register in Berlin if they plan to stay for more than 6 months. Those who have lived abroad need to register if they plan to stay 3 months or longer. A registration is not necessary for shorter stays.

landlord's confirmation of residence Wohnungsgeberbestaetigung

 

1. Landlords

a.) What are the landlord’s responsibilities?

The landlord of an apartment which is rented out temporarily must also write out and sign the “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung.” If the landlord does not do this, the tenant will be unable to register at the Bürgeramt. Without a registration, the tenant will be unable to open a bank account, will not receive a tax identification number, nor be able to sign contracts for a mobile phone or even a sign up for a gym membership. The registration confirmation from the property owner is, therefore, very important for the tenant. Landlords should immediately provide the tenant with the “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung.”
Landlords should also take into account that tenants may have to wait some time for an appointment at the Bürgeramt. If the tenant can’t show up to their appointment due to a missing “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung” form, that’s not exactly the start of a harmonious tenancy!
The landlord is, by the way, not obliged to find out whether the tenant needs to register or not. The tenant is responsible for this.

b.) What happens if a landlord doesn’t fill out a Wohnungsgeberbestätigung?

The landlord would be committing an offence that is liable to a fine of up to 1000 Euros.

c.) What information is contained in the confirmation of residence (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung)?

The property owner, or management operating in their name, must include the following information:

  • Name of the landlord
  • Name of legal property owner with address (if the landlord and actual property owner are not the same)
  • Address of the apartment
  • Move-in date
  • Name(s) of persons being registered

d.) Does the property owner also have to confirm moving out?

No. The tenant needs to deregister (or if the case may be, re-register). The property owner does not need to confirm this, however.

 

2. Tenants

a.) What are the tenant’s responsibilities?

First, tenants must find out if they need to get registered. If this is the case, they must ask the landlord for the completed “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung” form. Different rules apply. The deciding factor is whether someone is already registered in Germany or not.
If the tenant is already registered elsewhere in Germany and rents for a maximum of 6 months, then nothing has to be done. If tenants extend the rental agreement beyond the six months, however, then they are obliged to register at the Bürgeramt (within two weeks after going beyond the 6-month time limit.)
If tenants are registered abroad and rent more than 3 months, they must register at the Bürgeramt within two weeks after the beginning of the rental. If tenants initially rent for two months and then extend the rent for another two months, the same procedure applies. They also have to register. Those who come from abroad to start a job in Germany, will need to register immediately anyways, since they need a tax ID and a bank account.

 

b.) What happens if tenants aren’t able to get an appointment at the Bürgeramt in time?


Very often, people have to wait a long time to get an appointment at the Bürgeramt (local municipal office). It can be quicker if you are flexible and willing to accept appointments in other parts of the Berlin area (e.g. far out west in Spandau). You can look for available Bürgeramt appointments in the whole of Berlin. You can also get appointments at short notice if someone else happens to cancel. It pays calling to find out. Telephone number for Berlin residents: (0)30 115.

 

c.) Does the Bürgeramt also accept scanned confirmation of residence (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung) forms?

Yes. The confirmation doesn’t have to be the original. The important thing for the registry office is that the property owner has signed the confirmation.

 

d.) What happens if the property owner doesn’t fill out the confirmation of residence form?

German law obliges landlords to provide such a form if the tenant asks for it. If not, the property owner commits a legal offence. Tenants also commit a legal offence if they do not get registered. Both are liable to fines.
You should, however, give the property owner time to organise getting the confirmation of residence. It is best to inform landlords about it upon signing the contract. Tenants shouldn’t wait to ask only a day or two before the appointment at the Bürgeramt!

 

e.) Which documents do tenants need to register at the Bürgeramt?

  • German ID or passport
  • Rental agreement
  • Wohnungsgeberbestätigung (confirmation of residence)
  • visa or permit of residence if applicable
  • for the first registration in Germany, civil status certificates (marriage certificate, birth certificate) if applicable

 

f.) What happens when I move out of an apartment?

You need to deregister (or re-register if moving to somewhere else in Germany.) In this case, however, you do not require any confirmation from the property owner.

 

Does the new Berlin Housing Law (Zweckentfremdungsverbot) also apply for Temporary Rentals in Berlin?

Law prohibiting the illegal Repurposing of Residential Housing without a permit – is temporary Letting still allowed?

The rental of holiday apartments in Berlin is now prohibited. The ban on misappropriation prohibits the conversion of living space into holiday apartments. There are only a few exceptions.
Many landlords who offer or want to offer furnished flats on a temporary basis are uncertain. Is this still permitted, and if so, with what conditions?

 

Gilt das Zweckentfremdungsverbot auch für Wohnen auf Zeit?

 

Is the temporary letting of furnished apartments also affected by the new Berlin Housing Law?

The target group for furnished temporary housing is no longer tourists, but people who come to Berlin to work.  Tens of thousands of people from Germany and abroad still move to Berlin every year to work here.
The housing market in Berlin is tense and it is not easy to find an affordable apartment. But it’s even more difficult when you’re not there to search.
These Neuberliners, who move to Berlin temporarily or for a longer period because of their job, initially rent furnished apartments for a limited period. And they do so until their employment in Berlin is over or they have found their own apartment.
The flats that are rented for a limited period of time are not withdrawn from the normal housing market. Because if they did not rent for a certain period of time, they would also be competing with the many people looking for accommodation for their already scarce living space. And it is precisely this group of people who would find it difficult to find their own apartment. Not locally and none also no Schufa history.

For temporary apartments, the new housing law does not apply if the landlord rents to tenants who come to Berlin to work there. The tenant must also rent for at least 2 months and live in Berlin during this time.
The fact that the tenant works here should also be certified in writing by the landlord.

Holiday Flats – Furnished Apartments for temporary Rentals:
The Differences

Can former holiday apartments now be offered as furnished apartments for a limited period?

Theoretically yes. However, time letting is a completely different business model and the apartments are furnished differently.
For temporary apartments, the Berlin law prohibiting the illegal repurposing of residental housing does not apply if the landlord rents to tenants who come to Berlin to work.  The fact that the tenant works here should also be certified by the landlord.

Holiday Apartment:

  • Target group Tourists who have rented for a few days or weeks
  • rather simply furnished
  • had many beds: Target group were families etc.
  • easy to clean, practical, less comfort – tourists are on the move all day long
  • Prices per night were shown, sometimes very high: calculated on the number of persons, however, cheaper than hotel, but projected on month rather expensive
  • is subject to the ban on misappropriation unless an exemption has been granted. Since August 2018, landlords have required not only a permit but also a registration number to rent a holiday home.

 

Furnished Apartment for temporary Rentals:

  • Target group: working people
  • Prices are shown per month
  • Competing with other temporary apartments, not hotels
  • higher quality furnished, more comfortable, a temporary home
    mostly for 1-2 persons, it makes little sense to rent a 60m² apartment to 4 persons for half a year
  • comfortable, easy cleaning also important, but carpets etc. are available
  • Prices are shown per month.
  • Should be affordable for normal earners. Competing with other flats on time, not with hotels.
    does not fall under the ban on misappropriation if tenant works in Berlin and rents for at least 2 months

Is there still a need for temporary apartments in Berlin?

Yes. Good apartments in good locations, not overpriced, good, stylish and furnished with attention to detail, are always available for rent.
However, there has been an oversupply since the entry into force of the law on alienation and the ban on holiday apartments. Many landlords who used to earn a lot of money with holiday rentals offer these apartments as furnished apartments on a temporary basis. Often with holiday home standard and at prices that are not in line with the market.

When should a Landlord rent out a temporary Accommodation?

Of course, it is clear that every landlord has an interest in achieving the highest possible rent. However, time-letting is not suitable for earning a lot of money. Although the rent index does not apply to temporary rentals, it is still not advisable to take advantage of this.  At least not if you want to let your apartment to good tenants on a long-term basis.  Landlords should focus on flexibility.
As already mentioned, professional careers that earn their living in Berlin are the target group of time-letting. Of course, they also rent production companies for actors who shoot in Berlin, CEOs, or people who can afford everything.  But this group of people also has demands. And not every apartment falls into the luxury segment.  With apartments in the top price segment, it is also rather unlikely that they are rented throughout.  We therefore recommend that you calculate the rental price in such a way that the apartment is rented throughout the year if possible.

It is also important that the landlord has fun with the topic of furnishing. It is no longer enough to simply place a bed, a cupboard and a desk in an apartment.  Atmosphere and the feel-good factor are also important.

Conclusion:

The ban on misappropriation applies to apartments that are rented to tourists on a daily or weekly basis. But not for temporary housing, if the furnished apartment is rented to tenants who come to Berlin to work. The minimum rental period is 2 months.
Furnished flats for a limited period of time are usually of a higher quality than holiday flats. It is no longer enough to put a bed, a wardrobe and a desk in the apartment for temporary living. Landlords have to deal with the topic of furnishing, because location, atmosphere and feel-good factor are important for good rentability.