Crocodilian Blog
The Temporary Rental Blog from Berlin

The German license fee or “Rundfunkbeitrag” for temporary tenants

TV licence letter

Photo: Tim Reckman

Important information: if you’re newly living in Germany and you’ve received a “Rundfunkbeitrag” letter to your temporary apartment, it may cause big problems to ignore it. This is a request for your license fee payment to the public broadcasting network, the Rundfunk ARD, ZDF und Deutschlandradio. We give you the lowdown on why you've received this letter in your temporary furnished apartment - and what to do with it.

Do I have to pay the Rundfunkbeitrag as a temporary tenant?

Every household has to pay the Rundfunkbeitrag every three months, even if it's rented out as a temporary furnished apartment. In some of these flats the landlord has already taken the responsibility of paying the fee. But this is not always the case. Sometimes, the tenant is expected to pay separately, and watch out - the fee won't be included in the warm rent.

How much does the Rundfunkbeitrag cost?

The Rundfunkbeitrag costs €52.50 every three months, which breaks down to €17.50 a month. It is calculated per household, not per person – so even if you are sharing your apartment you only pay it once. Some people may have a special entitlement to an exemption or reduced fee, such as unemployment, student status, or a registered disability. But take note - this has to be applied for with proof first.

How do I pay the Rundfunkbeitrag?

Paying this license fee is mandatory, so the Rundfunk ARD, ZDF und Deutschlandradio make it simple. You will receive a letter from them with a payment slip for €52.50 every three months. You can then make the payment using these details via bank transfer, online or in branch. It's important to use the reference number they give so that your payment can be tracked to you.

What do I do if the landlord has already paid the Rundfunkbeitrag for my temporary apartment?

Even if your landlord has paid, don't be alarmed if you still receive a letter asking for payment! All you have to do is make sure there is a record of the monthly fee being paid for your apartment. The easiest way to do this is by finding out the reference number of your landlord's account. You can then fill this into the form attached to the letter, and send it to the address provided.

Do I still have to pay the Rundfunkbeitrag if I don’t have a TV?

It’s a common question if it's still necessary to pay the Rundfunkbeitrag even if you don’t have a TV. And the answer is – yes! The contribution fee is more than a TV license, as it also covers programme broadcasts on all media outlets, including radio, online, and in libraries. It is important for everyone to pay so that the system in place to support those that can’t, works.

What happens if I don’t pay the Rundfunkbeitrag?

It used to be the case that people just said that they didn’t own a TV or radio and didn’t pay the fee. However, this has since been changed so that every household must pay a flat rate or will end up facing extra fees, or legal action. It’s better and easier for you in the long run to make sure you've paid, or that your landlord has. 

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