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15 Tips for finding a flat in Berlin

In Berlin, it might be challenging to find an apartment or even a shared flat—especially if you’re new to the area. The good news is that we are here to make your relocation as easy as possible and to provide a warm welcome to you in Berlin!

You’ll find advice to help you in your quest for the ideal house on this page.

Before you start

There are some crucial factors to take into account:

1. Where do you wish to reside in Berlin? To determine where you can afford to reside, you can utilise tools and apps.

2. Do you prefer to live in your apartment or a shared one? In Germany, a shared apartment is commonly referred to as a WG or Wohngemeinschaft.

3. What characteristics ought your new house to have? It’s crucial to take into account elements like the number of rooms, the amenities offered, and the floor you choose to reside on. Although amenities like balconies can be great, bear in mind that they may also restrict your possibilities.

4. It’s difficult but true to keep an open mind and be adaptable. Even while knowing what you want in a new home is vital, your chances will ultimately be better if you are also willing to make concessions! It’s also crucial to exercise patience. It will take some time to complete this process, and it is typical to view many properties before settling on one. (Consider it similar to looking for a job; you’ll put out applications, go through several interviews, and eventually, the right offer will be on the table.)

Suggestion: Understanding the distinction between “Warmmiete” and “Kaltmiete” is crucial when examining the cost of a rental apartment.

The basic rent for the apartment, known as “kaltmiete,” is the amount paid without accounting for any additional expenses. The term “warm rent,” or warm meite, refers to the Kaltmiete plus other expenses such as water, property tax, gas, electricity, and trash disposal services. (In German, these “side costs” are referred to as Nebenkosten.)

7. Search online with these tips: Look in places no one else does! 90% of those looking for housing will do it on the same, well-known search engines. Consequently, it is beneficial to examine less well-known internet portals. To be sure you are contacting the most recent offerings, you might also wish to search at times when fewer people are online (for example, advertising typically appears early in the morning or late at night).

Suggestion: There are numerous sizable Facebook sites and groups devoted to Berlin apartment searching. To improve your chances of receiving a response, you might want to think about joining smaller groups (preferably with fewer than 200 members).

8. Be bold and creative by posting an apartment or housing request in the form of a note in busy spots near the area where you want to live. This may happen in a coffee shop, at your preferred yoga or fitness center, or even on a telephone pole.

Do you already have a neighborhood in mind? If so, look for supermarkets nearby or in the immediate region. Numerous shops feature a “schwarzes Brett für Anzeigen,” a board where advertisements for buying, renting, and selling can be posted.

10. Always have the necessary paperwork on hand: You must prepare the following paperwork and bring them with you to view if you are looking for a flat. If any of these documents are absent or incomplete, your application may not be accepted in many cases:

  • Personal ID copy
  • Credit report: “SCHUFA Auskunft” (A credit investigation business called SCHUFA)
  • Certificate of Paid Rent – “Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung”
  • If you can’t yet prove your income, you might additionally require a guarantee signed by a guarantor (such as your parents) and evidence of their paystubs from the previous three months. Depending on the landlord, your work contract can also be sufficient documentation.

11. Let the marathon of videos begin: For some flat searchers, this step can be draining and disheartening. The good news is that once you get beyond the apartment challenge, you’ll feel like you’ve made it to Berlin at last – what a relief! To get through your apartment viewings, bear in mind the following:

  • To succeed, you must stand out from the crowd, so dress smartly, be approachable and polite, and shake the estate agent’s hand. You can acquire an advantage over your “competitors” by maintaining a neat appearance and a pleasant demeanor.
  • A copy of each document should be turned in in person at the viewing.
  • Send a second copy of your paperwork to the agency or landlord as soon as you can after the viewing by email.
  • Thank the landlord or real estate agent for the tour and express your appreciation in your email.

An important note about scams!

Renters naturally feel pressure to find a flat given Berlin’s competitive housing market. People may occasionally try to take advantage of you and try to trick you as a result, especially in situations where many people are applying for the same apartment.

To avoid becoming a victim of a scam, heed these quick DOs and DON’Ts:

  • NEVER pay a cash deposit! Although this is a widespread practice in other nations, it is not prevalent in Berlin, so you should be wary of anyone who requests a cash deposit. If you pay in cash and are defrauded (hopefully this would never happen to you), there will be no way to show that the money was moved. Due to this, it is essentially difficult to make a claim or inform the police about the scam.
  • ALWAYS have a legally binding contract in place! Please contact a German speaker to look over the contract with you before you sign anything if you are unsure about the contract because it is written in German. Any honorable landlord will appreciate that you need to take some time to make sure everything is legal.
  • DON’T hesitate to learn more about the landlord! Search for any ominous hints. Call them if you haven’t yet met in person and ask for images or links to their social media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.). Always request a viewing; if they refuse, excuse themselves by saying they are out of the country or ask for the deposit upfront, this is a scam. Additionally, be aware of landlords whose current address or phone number does not correspond to the nation of their bank account.
  • DON’T be duped by scam emails! To contact as many people as possible, several fraud networks have put up automated emails. They do not hesitate to target anyone, regardless of gender, age, or background. Please don’t put your trust in anyone you haven’t met in person, even if they email you a scan of their ID, a bank statement, their address, or a signed contract. And of course, under no circumstances send money (particularly through Western Union)!

You’ll find your ideal apartment quickly if you follow this advice. Happy home searching!