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.
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.
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.