All about housing

Finding accommodation is very important but not easy, whether you are looking to stay in a student hall of residence, a private room or a shared flat.

The glossary below includes the most common terms and useful explanations.

General information

You will always need to sign a contract and to pay a deposit in addition to your first rental payment.

The rental contract will identify a period of notice that must be given before moving out. If this period is not observed, the remaining rent will be charged even after you have moved out.

You are allowed to have visitors. However, they should not – under any circumstancs – share your accommodation, become permanent guests or illegally pay for the rental costs.

In Germany, household waste separation (glass, paper, plastic etc.) is taken seriously. Make sure that you know the system that applies to your accommodation.

Every single household has to pay a television/radio license fee, even if the residents do not have a television or radio. Devices that require Internet access are included. You will need to register, but significant reductions apply for students.

Remember: If you feel that any rules or facilities are very different from those back home and you feel uncertain about them, you only need to ask your flat mates or neighbours. They will be glad to help you and in return, they may learn something about your culture.

What you need to know about accommodation

We recommend that you read the advice provided by Mannheim Student Services. Pay special attention to aspects such as additional costs and a reasonable period of notice. If possible, try and ask somebody who speaks very good German for advice before you sign the contract.

This amount (usually two month's rent) will be charged with your first rent and reimbursed to you after you leave, provided everything is in working order in the accommodation when you move out.

Electricity, water, heating, refuse collection fees... all those additional costs are added to the rent in private accommodation. In general, you will pay a certain amount every month as a kind of deposit to cover your expenses. Once per year or when you move out, the difference between actual consumption and previous payments is calculated. Either you will need to pay that difference or you will get it back.

Facility managers may be responsible for upkeep and maintenance in student halls of residence and some private accommodation as well (in this case, the rent will probably be higher). They are in charge of nearly everything concerning the property and the facilities, are responsible for most repairs and make sure that the house rules are observed.

Some rules such as the rest periods (Ruhezeiten) are common in Germany; this means that noise is prohibited at certain times. Your neighbours might get upset if you ignore this rule.

In order to keep costs low, residents might be expected to assume some responsibilities. You might be responsible for cleaning the corridor and/or common areas at regular intervals, to bring the waste bins out on certain weekdays or to clear the street of snow during the winter. If you fail to complete scheduled responsibilities identified in your contract, you can be charged the costs for an external service – and this can be really expensive!

Pets are generally not allowed. Smoking can also be prohibited or only allowed on the balcony, for instance.

These and other rules must be observed – they should not, however, be excessive or unreasonable. If you have any doubts, consult someone who has been living here for a longer time.

Paper, glass and other materials are collected separately. Organic and residual waste also belong in different bins. The separation rules differ depending on where you live. Some bins (Mülltonnen) will be on the property, whereas other will not be far from the property. You might need special bags to dispose of certain materials. Your caretaker, landlord or neighbours can provide you with the necessary information.

If staying in a hall of residence

The rooms managed by Mannheim University of Applied Sciences can only be rented for entire semesters. If you arrive after the beginning of the month, you will still need to pay for the whole month. If you leave earlier, you will in principle have to pay for the entire period stated in your rental contract. Remember: it is not anybody's duty to help you find a new tenant and release you from any remaining costs. They will be assisting you through their good will!

You must provide timely notice if you want to change rooms within the hall of residence or move out.

Remember to extend your contract every semester!

If you ask somebody to pick up your key before your arrival, you will need to provide this person with signed authorisation.

When you move into your room, the caretaker will check everything with you and write a report that you will sign. If something is missing or damaged, this is the opportunity to tell the caretaker.

Furniture and a set of bed linen will be provided. You will need to bring your own towels.

In student accommodation, the so-called additional costs such as heating, electricity, water or cleaning of the halls are included in the price. Please be careful and conserve resources — for both ecological reasons and preventing increases in rent.

Washing machines, dryers, community rooms, etc. are available for all residents as long as they follow simple rules.

The hall of residence caretakers are also facility managers. They will repair leaks and ensure that everything is in working order. Let them know if something needs fixing.

Caretakers are available either by phone or during their office hours.

You will most probably share your kitchen and bathroom with other students. Official rules on how to handle these facilities may apply. You will also get more out of your stay if you act considerately and make an effort to get along with your fellow students.

Private accommodation

Read the contract very carefully before signing. Pay attention to the rental period and the conditions for moving out.

Be aware of the difference between rent (Kaltmiete, literally cold rent) and the total amount including all additional costs (Warmmiete, warm rent – the term is self-explanatory!).

Apartments can be furnished, either partly or not at all. The kitchen in particular is an important issue, for example if the rental contract does not include a furnished kitchen but previous residents have equipped it, they may ask you to buy it from them.

Access to the internet and/or telephone is not automatically provided and must always be paid for separately.

Your landlord or landlady is responsible for fixing anything that may not be in working order. Let them know as soon as possible. You can be made responsible for damaging anything due to personal negligence.

If you are living on your own, you might have to sign a contract for your own supply of electricity, etc.

Additionally, pay attention to the house rules.

If you are sharing, there will be some community rules too. Take the opportunity to communicate with your flat mates, discuss any concerns and strive to reach agreements. Your living space will be one of the best language schools that you’ll ever visit.