Questions & Answers

Many question are easy to answer. Here you’ll find answers to frequent questions.

Frequent questions & answers

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.

II. More information about renting with BGP

7. What insurance policies do I need when I rent an apartment?

BGP recommends that you have both private liability insurance and household insurance. Household insurance covers the moveable contents of your household. This includes furniture, personal items and household appliances, for example electrical goods, such as your TV and computer, valuables and clothes. Household insurance will usually pay to replace your possessions if they are damaged by fire, water, storm, hail, burglary or vandalism.

Private liability insurance can insure you (and other members of your household) against claims that result from inadvertent damage you may cause to the possessions of third parties.

8. What should I do if I lose my key or I need to get an extra key?

When you move into your BGP apartment, you will get two keys: one for the main door and one for your apartment door. If you lose one of these keys, or need an extra key, you should contact either your building's manager or building supervisor (Hausmeister). You are also welcome to use our contact form to send us a direct message.

Using the key number that is on every key, you can ask your building's manager to have a new key made. A few days later, you will receive a letter of approval from BGP with the information about which local locksmith you can use to make an extra key. Be sure to take the letter with you to the approved locksmith. When you move out of your apartment, you will have to return the extra key, together with your other keys, to BGP.

Why do we do it like this? Well, most of our apartment buildings have central locking systems, which means, for the safety of all of our tenants, that extra keys can only be made with permission.

9. Am I allowed to have a pet in my apartment?

If you want to keep ornamental fish, canaries, hamsters and other small animals in your apartment, that's no problem, and you don't even have to inform BGP. If you want to have larger pets, such as dogs or cats, then you will need to get permission from BGP.

Just send us a short letter describing your pet (race, age, size or expected size) and be sure to add a photo so that the building supervisor knows what kind of animal it is. This way we can be sure that no dangerous animals are being kept in any of our apartment buildings. For this reason, we do not allow any of our tenants to keep attack dogs.

If you already have a pet, please let us know before you move in to your apartment so that any misunderstandings can be avoided. As a rule: If you have a pet in your apartment, it should not annoy your fellow tenants or damage the apartment or apartment building.

10. Who should I talk to when I want to register a fault?

If you notice any faults or spot something that needs to be fixed, please contact the appropriate person at BGP. Get in touch with us!

III. Terminating your lease

11. I want to cancel the lease on my apartment. What do I need to bear in mind?

When you want to terminate your lease, you have to give appropriate notice (three months). German law requires that you inform your landlord that you are cancelling your lease in writing. Notice periods are also regulated by law. Three months' notice means that if you submit your cancellation by the third business day of the month, it will come into effect on the last day of the month, two full months later. For example, a cancellation submitted on the second business day of March would mean that you hand your apartment over on the last day of May. Be aware that the incoming mail stamp is what counts at BGP, not the postage date.

Your notice of cancellation needs to be in writing. Cancellations by e-mail, fax, telegram, or verbally, are invalid. In addition, all of the tenants in the household who are listed on the lease contract need to sign the cancellation letter.

Please send your cancellation letter to your local BGP office.

12. Can I terminate a family member's lease if they have been moved to a care home?

Even when a tenant is moved to a care home due to poor health, the legal period of notice remains three months. If it is not possible for the tenant to sign the cancellation letter personally, this can be done by an authorised person or a legal representative.

In this case, the authorisation must be verified and sent to BGP along with the cancellation letter. You can find more information about important things to remember when cancelling your lease at 11. I want to cancel the lease on my apartment. What should I bear in mind?

IV. Being good neighbours

13. What should I do if someone disturbs the peace or if my neighbours are being annoying?

If you feel disturbed by your neighbours because you feel that they are making too much noise or being annoying in other ways, you should always start by talking to your neighbours first. Speak to them in person and let them know in a friendly manner exactly what it is that bothers you.

If this doesn’t work, then it makes sense to keep a list of the noise and disturbances. Write down when, how long and in what form you perceive the noise or disturbance. If other neighbours are also disturbed, they should also make their own lists. This helps to ensure that the situation is assessed objectively.

Please send your list of noise and disturbances to your building's manager.

14. The building is not being cleaned properly. What can I do?

If you and your neighbours are unable to find a solution, please contact your building's supervisor or manager. They will try to find a solution to the problem for you. If, after many attempts, there is still a problem with keeping the building clean, BGP can organise for a cleaning company to keep the building clean.

The costs for cleaning will then be shared equally between all of the building's tenants. You can read more about shared costs at 2. How do I calculate my rent?

15. What am I allowed to do on my balcony?

In general, as well as setting up some well-secured flower boxes along the edge of your balcony, it’s also okay to use the space to dry your washing and even grill. However, you are only allowed to barbecue as long as this is not explicitly forbidden in your tenancy agreement and it won’t inconvenience your neighbours in any way.

Before your next grill party, make sure that there’s no way for smoke to disturb your neighbours, otherwise you might end up having to pay a fine. Why not even think about inviting your neighbours over to join you? An electric grill can be a good alternative to a traditional barbecue as it doesn’t produce any annoying smoke.