Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Get Settled in Germany
Step 1: Find an Apartment
Step 2: Wohnungsbesichtigungstermin – How to Make Your Future Landlord Pick You
Step 3: Signing a Home Rental Contract – Mietvertrag
Step 4: Getting an Anmeldung in Germany – Registering an Address
The fact of the matter is that there are more people looking for apartments than there are apartments available – or at least that is the case in bigger cities like Berlin, München, Stuttgart and Hamburg to name a few.
The competition is insane and therefore, an advertisement is bound to receive tens of hundreds of applications.
Making yourself standout from the crowd!
Unfortunately, being in the right place at the right time is necessary i.e. luck plays an important role.
Fortunately, there are some tricks you can apply and accelerate your chances.
For starters, you should always have a complete profile with your name, picture, contact info etc. on the housing portals/website. More often than not, this is the reason why someone doesn’t get a reply.
Have I already mentioned how fierce the competition is?
The answer to that is speed!
Once you’ve found an apartment you like, search for the contact information of the landlord and contact them ASAP!
If you can call them, great!
Otherwise, write them an email stating your interest and a couple of sentences about yourself and your stable financial condition i.e. what you’ve studied, where you work and your job title.
Most of the listing, especially in the bigger cities get a barrage of applications and often are discontinued within hours, therefore don’t make the mistake of bookmarking them for later.
The purpose of contacting the Landlord is simple – Wohnungsbesichtigungstermin
Apply ASAP – what’s the worst that could happen? Either you won’t get a reply or if you really don’t like the room/apartment, you can always reject them.
Wohnung – Apartment
besichtigung – Visit
Termin – Appointment
All we need to do is to set up an “Apartment Visit Appointment”.
Depending on the landlord and how they operate, you’ll either be invited to a private appointment with them or along with numerous other applicants at the same time.
Either way, one thing in clear – only one of you are going to take home the trophy.
They’re often regarded as comparable to a job interview and having personally gone through a bunch of them, I would dare not disagree.
We need to bring out our A-Game here and therefore, I’ve divided the appointment into 3 of the following categories
1. Before the Appointment
Since we’ve decided to treat it as an interview, we need to prepare for it likewise.
Due to tenant-friendly laws in Germany, evicting someone from their homes is not an easy task and therefore, the companies and landlords have grown to become more and more risk averse.
As a counter measure, If applicable, it would be recommended to prepare the following documents beforehand and either you can email the company/landlord or bring them with you for the appointment – This must be cleared with the landlord when setting up the appointment.
- Job Contract
- Payslips for 3 previous months
- Reference Letter from the previous landlord(s)
You can even get one from your home country and have it translated. If anything, this would show that you’re not only responsible but willing to go the extra mile
- Schufa Report – It’s a credit record tracking report for German individuals. A clean report indicates that you are debt-free and have no longstanding payments
2. During the Appointment
First impression is the last impression – such impactful words have seldom been spoken.
You’ll only be afforded one opportunity to make an impression and stand out from the rest of the crowd, therefore you need to snatch it with both hands.
Some things you should consider focusing on are;
- Be Punctual – In fact, be 15 min early
- Groom Yourself – Comb your hair, trim your mustache and put on some good clothes
- Introduce yourself, shake hands and maintain eye contact – Be confident in your skin
- Be Friendly – Make sure you put on a good clean smile on your face for the rest of the day
- Listen Keenly – Everyone loves the sound of their own voice. Let them listen to it 😉
- Inspect the Apartment with interest – But don’t bring your magnifying glass with you
- Don’t point out minor problems with the Apartment – Take note of them. Once both parties agree to terms, they can and will be documented before moving in
- Volunteer information that might help your case – for e.g. non-smoker, no pets, etc.
- Don’t volunteer information that might hurt your chances – for e.g. problems with previous landlords, short term contracts, etc.
- Planning a long-term stay – This will increase your chances manifold as the landlord/company won’t have to deal with the hassle of renovating and renting anytime soon
- Prepare some questions beforehand – Asking questions at the end of the appointment indicates that you’re serious and well prepared. Some questions could be;
- What belongs to the Apartment i.e. is there parking available, does it come with basement storage (keller)?
- How far are the shops or the nearest bus and train stations?
- How often do the stairs or corridors need to be cleaned?
- Is there a snow shoveling timetable?
- Are there any other tenant responsibilities that are outside the 4 walls?
- What and how much are the additional costs?
Study the situation and ask accordingly and make it in a conversational tone. Just don’t become an emotionless question-asking robot.
The more time you spend interacting with the landlord/broker, the more chances that he remembers you from among the lot and thus increasing your chances of getting selected.
People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but people never forget how you made them feelMaya Angelou
3. After the Appointment
Once you’ve been through the appointment phase, there is still a chance to gain some points on the competition.
Given that the landlord/broker had taken 30-60 min out of his schedule to meet with you, it would only be fair to thank him/her for it.
A follow-up email/call is what I’m referring to.
Make sure to focus on the following points when portraying your thoughts;
- Remind them who you are or that you meet them for the appointment
- Thank them for their time to meet with you
- Let them know how interested you are, and that the apartment is a great fit for you
- Any questions that you still have
What are the Landlords looking for?
Put yourself in their shoes and think for a second, what would you want from a tenant? Somethings that come to mind are;
- Long-term stay
- Rent to be paid on time
- Neighbor friendly
- No loud music or partying
If you look it from their perspective, you can make your case accordingly and increase your chances.
Getting selected is a tedious task, but one that you need to go through with, so it only makes sense to prepare for it as well.
I hope my experience coupled with my research helps you get ahead of the line and hopefully, get selected.
Do you have anything to add? Or something I missed?
Let me know in the comments below.