Apartment Rental


The real estate market in Karlsruhe is highly competitive. Don't expect to find something right away, although you may get lucky.


Where to look

Often the best way to find a place is through connections — friends, work colleagues etc.

The regional daily newspaper advertises rentals on Wednesdays (very few) and Saturdays. There are a number of free newspapers listing rental properties — they come out on Thursdays and Sundays. Internet sites are also good alternatives. Download a list of words and abbreviations most often used in advertisements — with English translations — from the link to the right.

Alternatively, contact Relocation Service move-in for a full-service moving option.

General Info

Don't be surprised to find that many apartments and houses come without kitchens! You may have to install appliances (refrigerator, stove, washing machine etc) and cabinets yourself. Sometimes it is possible to buy the old kitchen from the previous renter.

Similarly, there may be no lamps in the rental!

A three room apartment means 2 bedrooms. Kitchens and bathrooms do not count as rooms.

You will be expected to pay a deposit of up to 3 months basic rent — this usually goes into a separate bank account signed by you and your landlord and will be returned to you, with interest, when you depart — provided there are no outstanding expenses or damage to the apartment. Be wary if the landlord wants cash as a deposit - or make sure you get a receipt.

If you use a real estate agent, there may be an additional 2 months basic rent plus tax to pay as a commission.

The amount of your rent is not negotiable!

The landlord or agent may ask you to fill out a "Selbstauskunft" (voluntary disclosure of ones personal and financial data). You are not required to provide this information, but your chances of finding an apartment will greatly improve if you do. Download the file Selbstauskunft.pdf to learn what  types of questions may be asked - in English and German.

Before you sign your rental agreement, be sure to read over it carefully or have someone explain it to you!


Contracts and Costs

The costs associated with your rental property can be divided into three categories:

1. Basic Rent (Kaltmiete or cold rent)

This covers the basic rental of the property. Sometimes the garage, carport or parking space is included in the basic rent, sometimes not.

2. Overhead Costs (Mietnebenkosten)

The overhead costs will depend on the apartment, its location and your rental contract. Make sure you know what is covered when you sign your agreement. This may or may not include:  heating, water (hot and cold), taxes, cable television, parking, garbage collection, sewage, snow removal, general maintenance of the building (not your apartment), building insurance, electricity and water usage for common spaces, etc.

1. and 2. together are known as Warmmiete (warm rent) or Gesamtmiete (total rent). Although it is called "warm" rent, heating costs may not be included. This is what you pay your landlord and is often listed as e.g. €800 Miete + €200 NK. The Nebenkosten (NK) are paid at a predetermined fixed rate per month. Because some of these costs depend on individual use (esp. heating and water), once a year, shortly after the meters have been read, you will receive a Nebenkostenabrechnung listing actual use and you will either have to pay the difference or you may get a refund. Your landlord must provide you with this information in a timely fashion.

Note: Most apartments in Karlsruhe, especially older buildings, are heated with gas (see Utilities), which are usually not covered in the Nebenkosten.

3. Utilities and costs not covered in point 2.

These can include heating, telephone, cable television, electricity, etc. Please check the links for specific information.

Most rental contracts require you to have insurance. Please see our sections on Hausratversicherung and Haftpflichtversicherung for more information. For peace of mind, these insurances are good to have even if they are not specified in your rental contract.


Additional helpful information

1. If there is no house manager/superintendant (Hausmeister), you will be obliged to keep the building clean, done on a rotating basis among the tenants. This can include:  mopping the stairs, sweeping the sidewalk, removal of snow and ice from in front of the house in winter, etc. There is often a schedule so that everyone knows who is responsible for what and when.  If you cannot fulfill your duties, you must find an appropriate replacement, e.g., if you are on vacation in winter, you will need to find someone to take over snow shoveling in case it snows. It is often possible to trade with or make an arrangement with fellow tenants.

2. Determine before moving in if the apartment should be renovated before you move in or when you depart. Either way you may not get around doing some painting or wallpapering. Often the contract states that the apartment should be left in the condition it was found, so if it was freshly painted when you moved in, you will need to paint it again before you leave.

3. If you find you are having trouble with your landlord or other tenants, it might be worthwhile consulting a local chapter of the Tenant's Association (Deutscher Mieterbund). For a yearly fee, there are experts who may be able to clear up your problem. Some branches also offer help in languages other than German.

4. Most apartment buildings have a list of rules and regulations (Hausordnung) hanging somewhere near the main entrance — this is Germany! This could include times of day or night when it is important to keep the noise down, the importance of recycling and separating your garbage, what color your awning is allowed to be etc.

5. Even though it can be very hot and muggy in Karlsruhe in the summer, very few houses or apartments have air conditioning. It is still considered a waste of energy and money. Some new constructions have innovative methods to provide cooling, but these are few and far between. If you can't sleep at night, a fan or a small air conditioner unit from the hardware store may save your sanity.

6. Laundry facilities. Most apartments have a washing machine hook-up either in the kitchen or the bathroom. If not, there should be a laundry room in the basement with separate electric lines for each apartment. In most cases, you must purchase your own washing machine. Dryers are becoming more popular, but most people still hang their laundry either in the basement laundry room or on a stand on the balcony or within the apartment. If you have shared facilities in the basement, there may be certain days or times for each apartment to use the room. If you do not want to purchase a washing machine, there are "Waschsalon" available - usually near Universities. Look for SB, which is Selbstbedienung, which means self-service. These are becoming increasingly rare.