Student residences

If you are a student enrolled at a university in Berlin, you can apply for a room in a student residence, which is an affordable housing option. To find student residences and other useful information for students, please visit the website of the student services ("Studierendenwerk").

Renting accommodation on the housing market

Finding affordable housing in Berlin has become increasingly difficult. Unfortunately, the MPIIB can only provide limited assistance in finding housing. To get started, here is some basic information about renting in Germany: In order to be one of the lucky ones to get one of the much sought-after apartments, you will usually have to prove that you have a current employment contract, a positive credit report from SCHUFA (a German private credit bureau), and a bank account. Usually, a condition of a contract is to pay a deposit of 1-3 months' rent as security, which will be refunded at the end of the contract if there are no outstanding obligations. In Germany, apartments are advertised with a bathroom and kitchen, usually with a sink and often with a stove. The living room is not included, so if you are looking for a bedroom plus a living room, you will need to find a two-room apartment. The size of the apartment is always given in square meters. Apartments are unfurnished unless otherwise stated. Immoscout is the web portal where most apartments are offered. If you are looking for a shared flat ("Wohngemeinschaft" or "WG" for short), basically all rooms are advertised on wg-gesucht.

In addition to rent, tenants have to pay the operating costs (which may include heating costs, depending on the heating system in the apartment). Operating costs are not fixed and may go up or down each year. Landlords are required to provide an itemized bill for the operating costs. Electricity is usually paid for separately by tenants, which requires registration with an electricity company. If your apartment has gas, you will also need to register with a gas company.

Here are some important terms used to describe an advertised apartment.

Netto-Kaltmiete: The rent only
Heizkosten: heating costs
Betriebskosten/Nebenkosten: operating costs
Warmmiete: the entire rent including operating costs and heating

In Germany, the so-called "client principle" exists, which means that the person who hires the agent or agency (usually the landlord) pays the commission. Lack of knowledge of this law is often used as a scam to get an (additional) commission from the prospective tenant.

Please note: Berlin has a very tense rental market, which unfortunately also attracts scammers who try to exploit this. Please be aware and be careful if you are asked to send money in advance without having seen the apartment, or if an offer seems too good to be true.

Registation at the registration office

Anyone living in Germany for more than 3 months has to register their German home address at the registration office (in Berlin called "Bürgeramt"). If you have moved to Berlin, you must register with your current address. The International Office will assist you with this process. Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation of your registration. You will need this document to open a bank account and to apply for a residence permit. Each time you move, even within Berlin, you will have to go through the same process and register your new address.

Please don't forget to deregister at the end of your stay in Germany

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