Information for Tenants
Which rights and obligations do I have as a renting party and who can help me with problems?
If you have rented an apartment, you may live there. You may organise and furnish the apartment according to your wishes. With renovations, as a rule you have to get permission from your landlord in advance.
If you also finalise the rental contract alone, you may accommodate your spouse and under-age children in the apartment. With other persons, you need to agree in principle with the landlord if they want to live with you permanently.
In living in your apartment, you are obligated to respect your neighbours. In most cases, there are house rules in which there are additional rules – e.g. after which hour music and other noises are to be reduced to room-level volume.
You are obligated to keep the apartment in good condition. This involves regular cleaning and airing. Furthermore, according to the rental contract, you may be obliged to renovate the apartment at certain times or when moving out, which means repainting walls or replacing wallpaper. Serious damage, especially to water, gas or electricity lines as well as mould or vermin infestation should be communicated immediately to the landlord or to whoever is responsible for reparations. (However, in accordance with the rental contract, it could be that you are responsible for the costs of small reparations.)
Help with problems with the landlord, tenancy law or in the support of housing costs
Should you have problems or questions regarding your tenancy rights, there are various consultation possibilities which are offered to you and are there to support you, such as the Mieterschutzbund Berlin e.V. (Berlin Tenants’ Protection Association) and the Berliner Mietergemeinschaft e.V. (Berlin Community of Tenants).
Important information for all persons who receive benefits for accommodation and heating costs according to the Social Security Code (SGB) II & XII (social welfare) and the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (AsylbLG) within the framework of AV-Wohnen (living implementation regulations): Since 1st January 2019, your membership fees for the “Berliner Mieterverein” (Berlin Tenants Association) have been carried over. This also applies for legal protection. Those who require tenancy law advice (e.g. utility bills, mould, notice of termination, refurbishment etc.) and receive rent subsidies do not have to pay the membership fees themselves. The job centre, social welfare office or the State Office for Refugee Matters, as service providers pay the membership fees for two years directly to the tenants association in accordance with a corresponding agreement.
Free advice on tenancy law for Berlin districts
More and more Berlin districts are offering free tenancy consultation. You can currently receive free tenancy consultation in the district offices Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Spandau, Pankow and Reinickendorf. A district tenancy consultation service has also been set up in Lichtenberg.
Support with discrimination in the housing market
Have you been discriminated against due to your origin, language or religion in the search for an apartment? The General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG) prohibits the discrimination of applicants due to the following characteristics (§ 1 AGG):
- ethnic origin
- religion/ ideology
- sexual identity
The Fachstelle (Specialist Unit) “Fair renting – Fair living. “Fachstelle Berlin against discrimination in the housing market” supports people who experience discrimination on the housing market.They advise, accompany and support people who are discriminated against due to their
- (attributed) origin
- their language
- their religion
- their sexual identity
- their sexual orientation
- a disability
- their age
- their social status
…. or several things.
Further information can be found on the Fachstelle Homepage.
The Fachstelle is promoted by the Senate Department for Justice, Consumer Protection and Anti-Discrimination through funds from the Office for Equal Treatment – against Discrimination (LADS).
Helpful links on apartment huntingIn Berlin, there are also many district, voluntary and church-related initiatives, which compile useful information and links on apartment hunting especially for refugees and migrants. Here you can find a selection of links:
- The project InteraXion, Welcome Office for Migrants and Refugees in Treptow-Köpenick has created a Guide to apartment hunting in 5 languages (German, Arabic, Persian, French, Russian).
- The association Place4Refugees e.V. has compiled information in multiple languages on apartment hunting, which was created in a workshop.
- The Bündnis AG Wohnungssuche Neukölln has its own guide to apartment hunting for refugees in Berlin in four languages (German, Arabic, Persian, English) and offers a comprehensive collection of links on apartment hunting on its Homepage.
- The district office provides information on apartment hunting for refugees (in German, English, Arabic, Dari) and for backers (in German)
- The Refugee Council Berlin has specially compiled information on apartment hunting for refugees.
Can I receive financial support?
Housing benefits are granted, if income is enough to cover living costs, but not the rent. This is designed to prevent people from having to leave their apartment to move to another area simply because they lack the income.
Housing benefits can also be claimed by people that come from outside the EU. It does not matter if the person in question has a residence permit, are in the asylum procedure or is only tolerated.
If you receive basic security benefits (Social Security Code II, XII, Asylum Seekers Benefits Act), you will receive no housing benefits since the housing costs in this case will be paid to the full amount by the service provider, provided that you do not have sufficient income available.
You can request housing benefits at the Citizens Registration Office in your district.
Whether and how much housing benefit you are due is dependent on the rent that you need to pay and, on the number, and income of the persons who live with you. The exact requirements and documents and forms to be submitted can be found in the Service Portal Berlin.
A further source of support is rent allowance.
If you live in a so-called council flat, receive Jobseeker’s Allowance II from the job centre or social benefits or asylum application benefits from the social welfare office and the job centre or social welfare office does not assume the whole amount of rent, you can request rent allowance under certain conditions.These conditions are
- You pay more than 30% of your income for rent (without additional costs and costs for warm water)
- Your income is below the Berlin “Wohnberechtigungsschein” (housing warrant), which you can check with the housing warrant enquiry.