I. Costs associated with renting an apartment
1. What do I need to know about security deposits?
When you rent an apartment, you will normally need to pay a security deposit. This serves to protect landlords from the costs of repairing minor damage caused by their tenants. BGP is always asks for three net cold rents (i.e. excluding ancillary costs), which has to be paid before the keys are handed over.
The security deposit is held in a special account, completely separate from the landlord’s other bank accounts, and earns interest in accordance with legal requirements. The interest rate is similar to what is paid on a savings account, with a three-month cancellation period.
When the you cancel your lease and move out, BGP first checks whether you owe any outstanding payments. This is usually done after the apartment has been re-let and will include ancillary charges that wasn't possible to determine at the time you vacated the property – final bills are only sent out after the end of a full calendar year. The timing and amount of the security deposit returned to tenants varies depending on the individual case. If you have any questions about security deposits, then please get in touch with us!
2. How is my rent calculated?
Your rent typically comprises the basic, or “cold”, rent, along with prepayments for operating costs, heating and hot water. The term basic (or “cold”) rent means the actual rent that you pay for the use of the rental unit. The prepayment for the operating costs includes trash collection, water supply, cable television, building insurance and property tax. If cleaning is carried out by BGP or a contractor, these costs are also shared amongst all of the tenants who live in the building.
The prepayment for operating costs is paid to the landlord along with your basic rent. At the end of the year, your prepayments are checked against the actual costs incurred during the year. If your prepayments are higher than the actual costs, your excess payments will be returned. If there is a shortfall, we will send you a separate detailed invoice for you to make up the difference. The same applies to costs for heating and hot water if they are not supplied directly by an external gas supplier.
The costs for electricity, internet and telephone are never included in the rent. Sign up for your local utility company.
You can find a detailed explanation of how your rent is calculated in your lease agreement and in the operating costs statement you receive each year. Do you have any other questions or issues associated with how your rent is calculated? Get in touch with us!
3. What are the benefits of paying your rent by direct debit?
To make sure that your rent is paid correctly and on time, we suggest that you authorise your landlord to collect your rent by direct debit. This is best way to guarantee that if there is a change in the rent (for example when the prepayment amount changes), your landlord will still receive the correct amount and there will be no misunderstandings.
4. I moved in late in the year and still have to pay for a high shortfall in the heating prepayment. How does that work?
Every month you pay the same amount towards your final heating costs. This monthly prepayment is an estimate of your heating coasts for the complete year, divided by twelve to arrive at a monthly figure.
Heating requirements vary widely during the year. In summer, heating energy is pretty much only used to heat water, so costs are low and the amount of heating energy used is less than your monthly payment. In winter, heating is used much more and your actual costs will be higher than your monthly payment.
Over a whole year, your consumption and payments balance each other out. If you move in at the end of the year, when heating consumption is higher than the annual average, it may well be that your consumption is greater than the amount covered by your prepayment, meaning you will have to pay to make up the shortfall.
5. What are a credit check and a SCHUFA report?
Credit checks provide details of a person's creditworthiness and assess their ability to pay their bills and debts. Before a lease agreement is signed, BGP checks the creditworthiness of a potential tenant to make sure they can pay their rent and bills. However, we can only do this with your written approval.
The report that BGP receives from the SCHUFA does not contain any information about your personal income or financial circumstances. The contents of the selected data only pertain to credit- and leasing contracts, opening an account, fixed-term contracts, credit cards and payment history. Of course, BGP handles all of your data with the utmost confidentially.
6. What is a certificate of eligibility for public housing (WBS)?
A certificate of eligibility for public housing (Wohnberechtigungsschein, or WBS) gives you the right to move into an apartment where the rent is subsidized by the state – also known as “social housing.” A WBS certificate is only issued to households and persons on low incomes.
You can apply for a WBS certificate at your city’s housing office. Housing office staff will be able to tell you about current income limits, any additional conditions that ay apply and the documents you will need to submit with your application. If you are interested in a specific apartment, you will see from the apartment's listing whether it is only available to tenants with a WBS certificate.