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Renting an apartment in Germany: Tips, terminology and abbreviations

Are you looking for a new apartment?

Finding a flat in the right location that matches your ideas, needs and finally agrees with your purse is difficult enough.

But as soon as you open the newspaper, you'll realize that on top you need to find your way through a jungle of abbreviations that even many of the locals don’t understand.

If you search online there may be less abbreviations - but the terms may be unfamiliar anyway.

Don't be put off!

With the list below, you’re fully equipped to tackle the task and take advantage ofbeing able to look up in both, online and offline advertisements!

Renting an apartment in Germany

In this article you will find:

  • Useful tips for renting an apartment or a house in Germany.

  • A list with all the terms and abbreviations that you might come across when looking for a place to live.


Did you know:

Most Germans rent their apartment:

about 57.9% of the households live in rented apartments or houses –

that is more than in any other country of the EU.


What you should know when you're looking for an apartment in Germany

How do I know the number of rooms?

German apartments do not only count the bedrooms but the total number of rooms, including living room and dining room.

That means:

A 3-bedroom-apartment could equal a 5-Zi-Whg. = 5 Zimmer-Wohnung (5-rooms-apartment) in Germany.

Bring your own kitchen!

no built-in kitchen in German apartments

When you rent an apartment in Germany, you will usually get the rooms with bare walls.

That means there will usually be no built-in kitchen (Einbauküche), internal window coverings, lamps, built-in wardrobes ecc.

If the previous tenant wants to leave something behind, you might be asked to buy it from him by paying “Abstand”.

However, if you bought everything new and the next tenant doesn’t want it, you might be required to take it all out again.

It really depends on the landlord, on the following tenant and on the situation on the rental market.

Lüften, lüften, lüften … (airing, airing, airing ...)

Lüften - a German passion

Once you finally sign your rental contract, there will probably be a paragraph about “Regelmäßiges Lüften" – regularly airing out.

You might even be provided with a leaflet telling you the right way and number of times per day to do it.

The reason is that most buildings in Germany are built pretty air-tight and have no ventilation except the windows and doors. Therefore, if you open the windows regularly, you will have better air-quality in your house, increase heating efficiency (i.e., save money) and – most important – prevent mold.

Single glazing or double glazing?

As a standard, there is double glazing (doppelt verglast) in Germany. It will only be mentioned if the windows are triple glazing (dreifach verglast)

Legal rules favour the tenant.

German tenancy law is very much in favour of the tenant.

If the contract isn’t clear, then it will usually be your advantage.

You’re safe from sudden evictions:

Every tenant is protected by the legal notice of contract termination of at least 3 months. The longer you reside in your apartment, the longer the period becomes.

In addition, the landlord can’t cancel your rental contract (Mietvertrag ) without a legally valid reason (berechtigtes Interesse).

However, the tenant can cancel an open-ended contract (unbefristeter Mietvertrag) at any time – you must only give the landlord 3 months notice.

Finding an apartment in Germany

Abbreviations for renting an apartment in Germany

Abst. - Abstand - payment for furniture / fittings left by previous tenant

AB - Altbau - old building, in which rooms typically have parquet floors and high ceilings with decorative mouldings.

App. - Appartment - apartment

Ausst. - Austtattung - furnishing

befr. - befristed - only available for a limited period of time

Bj. - Baujahr - year of construction

Bk - Betriebskosten - running costs

Blk. - Balkon - balcony

Bung. - Bungalow - bungalow

bzb. - beziehbar – ready for occupation

DG - Dachgeschoss - attic floor, sometimes with normal ceilings, sometimes with arched ceilings.

DH - Doppelhaus - pair of semi-detached houses

DHH - Doppelhaushälfte – semi-detached house

Do.-Gge. - Doppelgarage – double garage

DT - Dachterrasse - roof-terrace

EAia - Energieausweis im Auftrag - energy certificate has been commissioned

EA-B - Energieausweis Bedarf - energy certificate if needed

EA-V - Energieausweis Verbrauch - energy certificate consumption

EBK - Einbauküche - fitted kitchen.

EG - Erdgeschoss ground floor, sometimes at street level, sometimes elevated above street level

EFH - Einfamilienhaus - house

Einl.-Whg. - Einliegerwohnung – granny flat

Etg. - Etage - floor

ETW - Etagenwohnung - apartment covering an entire floor

FBH - Fußbodenheizung – underfloor heating

Gge. - Garage - garage

Grdst. - Grundstück - plot (of land), site

Gart. - Garten - garden

HK Heizkosten heating costs

Hs - Haus - house

HT - Haustier – pet

HZ - Heizung - heating

Komf. - Komfort - comfort

KM - Kaltmiete - literally: "cold rent", or the base monthly rent without building utility costs or heating. In addition you will need to pay 'Nebenkosten' or 'Umlagen'.

KP - Kaufpreis - purchase price

Kt. - Kaution - security deposit, typically three times the -> 'Kaltmiete'.

Lg. - Lage - location

MFH - Mehrfamilienhaus - large house with several apartments

MM - Monatsmiete - month’s rent

möbl. - möbliert - furnished

- Quadratmeter - square meter(s)

Mtl. - Monatlich - monthly

Vocabulary apartment in Germany

NB - Neubau - new building, in which rooms typically have laminate floors and low ceilings.

Nfl. - Nutzfläche – usable floor space

NK - Nebenkosten - additional costs, e.g. water, heating, property tax, building utility costs ... While 'Warmmiete' should remain stable the 'Nebenkosten' can be subject to change and may increase.

NR - Nichtraucher - non-smoker

OG - Obergeschoss - upper storey

prov.-frei - Provisionsfrei - free of commission

ren. - renoviert - renovated, or a complete renovation.

RH - Reihenhaus - terraced house

San. - saniert - refurbished, or a partial renovation.

Terr. - Terrasse - terrace

TG - Tiefgarage - underground car park

Uml. - Umlagen - a different word for -> Nebenkosten

unbefr. - unbefristet - available with no limitation of the time-period

VB - Verhandlungsbasis – basis for negotiation

WE Wohneinheit - accommodation unit

Wfl. - Wohnfläche - living area, or the total size of the entire place in square meters

WG - Wohngemeinschaft - flat share

Whg. - Wohnung - apartment

WM - Warmmiete - warm rent, or the base monthly rent plus heating

Zi. - Zimmer – room(s)

ZH - Zentralheizung - central heating


With this list you will be perfectly eqipped for your house hunt!

I wish you good luck! - Ich wünsche dir viel Glück!

Have you rented a property in Germany? Share your experiences in the comments below to help other Expats and newcomers to Germany!



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