Tagged as - new laws

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.

 

Bestellerprinzip -New German Legislation regarding Commission Fee

Understanding the Bestellersprinzip (new German legislation regarding commission fees)

The so-called ‚Bestellerprizip‘ (a new piece of German legislation regarding commission fees) comes into force on the 1st of June, 2015. Lawmakers have now determined that owners can now call upon an estate agent or subletting agency.

Both owners of furnished homes for short-term rent and subletting agencies must adapt to the new circumstances. The law’s rationale was in effect to liberate long-term tenants from estate agent fees. Despite how one may view the new law, subletting is aimed at a completely different market.  Professors-in-residence, companies, relocation agencies and foreign business people are often the regular customers of letting estate agents. Individuals that are in Berlin for a limited time are more than often willing to pay for a letting agency’s service. The social reasoning behind the law does not hold up. Unfortunately, this particular difference was not recognized by lawmakers.

On top of this, the ‘Bestellerprinzip’ has too narrow a scope. It means, quite simply, that since the law change no prospective tenant can instruct an agency to look for an apartment in a particular location or with well-appointed furnishings. Should the tenant end up not renting an apartment, the agency would come away from the situation empty-handed. If an apartment is burnt-out and can no longer be offered to future tenants, it will remain in the agency portfolio nonetheless. Neither can estate agents agree to any other tenancy agreements with prospective tenants as such an undertaking would be considered as an evasive transaction, and as such against the law. Even if a tenant consents to such an undertaking, he would still be entitled to sue for costs ensued from agency fees.

What does the Law Change mean in practice?

In future, letting agencies will charge an owner for the use of their services – and not tenants. Since German rent price control measures do not apply in this case, an owner can shift costs onto the total rent. This is a logical step, since there is certainly a difference between an owner paying an estate agent once in ten years, or offering an apartment for let on a long-term basis through an agency.

The Good News: rent price control does not apply to temporary furnished accommodation

For temporary letting, a tenant pays a lump sum where all incidental charges, as well as furnishing costs are included. In future, an owner is not obliged to follow the stipulated city rent index. Instead, an owner can demand a desired rental price on the market. This is often dependent on how much space is available for a certain amount of people. The owner can factor his/her own costs into the rent. However, this is not the case for unlimited rental term agreements. Since the law change, agency websites display higher rent prices and insodoing commission fees will not be shown.

Will the New Law make temporary accommodation more expensive?

The answer is no. A tenant will ultimately pay just as much as beforehand. Only the billing type has changed and has unfortunately become costlier. The demand for well-furnished accommodation is still high and businesspeople and companies are reliant on this type of housing.

Will Owners prefer to offer their Accommodation on Internet Portals such as Immoscout/Immonet in future?

There is no reason for owners to fear higher rental prices (now with agency commission fees included)! For all intents and purposes, the tenant has already paid for a successful negotiation. Some owners may try to let out their properties for a new price on the aforementioned internet portals. But why should respectable tenants or companies search for apartments on their own, when they can seek professional advice, receive convincing photographic material and entrust the entire coordination of the rental process to a competent third party.

Final Remarks

When all is said and done, not much changes for both tenants and owners for temporary accommodation in light of the new legislation. In effect, the left-pocket, right-pocket principle applies. Until now, rent and commission fees were two separate kettles of fish. The owner will now shift his-her incurred costs onto the tenant, as the rental price increases to take the commission fee into account. This is entirely legitimate and understandable seeing as the costs for consultation, organisation and marketing will of course be passed onto the person who makes use of such services.