When an apartment is rented a rent contract ("Mietvertrag") is signed. This contract contains the particular details of the apartment. The rent contract also contains the rights and obligations of the tenant and landlord (period of notice, house pets, etc). Once the contract is signed, both parties accept the contract and are legally bound to the contract. You should always be careful about reading and signing the rental contract.
Notice Period and Protection
There are certain periods of notice valid for tenants. These are defined in the rent contract or in the rent laws. Open-ended rent contracts usually have a period of notice of three months. The landlord cannot cancel the rent contract without a reason. This is referred to as "Mieterschutz" in German. If a conflict arises with your landlord, contact a lawyer or a tenant protection association.
Before you get the keys of your new home you have to pay a security deposit ("Kaution") as a financial guarantee in case of damage to the apartment. The amount usually ranges from one to three months rent. You will get this money back when you move out of the flat.
In larger apartment blocks with numerous tenants there is normally a set of house rules ("Hausordnung"). Certain problems associated with living together in a joint house are addressed in the house rules, for example, allocating who is responsible for cleaning the stairs (which are called "Hausflur" or "Treppenhaus" in German) on which days, or establishing the times when residents must not make noise within the building.
When you move out you have to be aware that most leases require tenants to repaint the interior of homes when notice is given. In some cases the landlord may stipulate that the painting does not need to be done by an approved company. If that is the case and you do not wish to do the painting yourself (beware that the landlord approves whether a job was suitable or not) you have to get and pay the painter.
Further Services Concerning Your Relocation
The Deutsche Post offers an all in one service for moving. The service helps you with all necessary registrations and/or notifications of change of address http://www.umziehen.de/umzugshelfer/.
They also offer forwarding service of your mail so that your mail will be delivered automatically to your new address.
You can get the mail forwarding application in all Deutsche Post Branch Offices or use the online application (Nachsendeauftrag online). You can choose the validity period for your mail forwarding application of either six or twelve months and should be applied for at the latest five workdays before moving house.
The costs for the mail forwarding application can be found on the Deutsche Post AG website. Additional costs are incurred to forward parcels and packages.
Advice: Look through your forwarded mail and inform those senders, who have written to your old address about your new one.
The International Office can give you a list of moving companies that have been recommended by others. Please get in touch.
Winter Service and Street Cleaning
If there is no house caretaker then the residents are bound by law to remove snow and ice from in front of their house during winter. This is generally stated in the rent contract. If the tenants are responsible for removing snow and ice then they are liable for all injuries incurred if they fail to meet their obligations. In some regions the streets also have to be swept once a week.
Recycling Systems/Separating Garbage
Nobody recycles like the Germans. They are known to be very conscientious about minimizing waste by recycling as much as possible. Many different types of waste are collected separately.
Bins are coloured yellow, brown and grey according to type of waste. These are some guidelines:
All packaging, containers, and boxes marked with the GRÜNER PUNKT are collected in the yellow bag, bin or container provided by the city.
Any garbage that can decompose is sometimes collected separately in a brown bin or biobin.
Finally, there is Restmüll (other rubbish) which is what doesn't fall into the categories above is collected in the grey/black bin.
Paper, glass and packaging are collected separately. Containers for paper and glass recycling can be found on a street corner in each neighborhood or sometimes in the courtyards of apartment buildings.
Any kind of bottle or glass jar that is non-returnable and on which you did not pay a deposit or "Pfand", belongs in the designated glass bins. The only thing to take note of here is the times when you should not use the glass bins.
Chemicals: All rubbish containing poisons or chemicals (e.g. fridges, paints, batteries, etc.) have to be taken to specials depots and cannot be put in regular rubbish bins.
Batteries are disposed of separately either in drug stores, supermarkets or electrical goods stores.
Bulky waste (Sperrmüll) includes old furniture, large electrical goods, wooden items and literally anything else (except for toxic things) that does not fit in the usual trash containers. Bulk trash pickups happen either regularly throughout the year.
Clothes: Old shoes and clothes can often be disposed of in large containers which can be found in on a street corner in each neighborhood. Several times a year the Red Cross and other organisations call on citizens to dispose of their old clothes and donate them to charity.