BAMF - Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge - Looking for accommodation and moving in

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Looking for accommodation and moving in

The Internet is your primary source of information if you are looking for an apartment or a house. There you will find providers who have specialised in acting as an agency for flats and houses. Many newspapers also publish housing ads on their website.

Ads in newspapers

It is worth having a look at advertisements in the newspaper itself. Find out in advance from neighbours, friends or the newspaper itself which day the accommodation adverts are published. They are often in the weekend editions.

When you have found something suitable, you must contact the landlord or seller. The adverts give either a telephone number or an e-mail address. Sometimes code numbers or code letters are listed – these are known as "box numbers" (Chiffre). If a box number is given, you must reply in writing by sending a letter to the newspaper. Your letter is then automatically forwarded to the landlord or seller. Do not forget to mention the relevant box number in your letter.

Help from the housing office

The housing office in your town or municipality can also help you with finding accommodation. The office often arranges accommodation directly. If this is not the case, the housing officers can at least help you by supplying useful addresses and information.

Going to an estate agent

You can also ask an estate agent to help you. They will charge you a fee for finding apartments and houses. You will find their contact addresses in the business directories and local telephone books.

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If you go to a real estate agent, you may have to pay up to a maximum of two months' rent plus value-added tax should you enter into a rental agreement. If you purchase a property, the agent's fee is normally between three and six percent of the purchase price plus value-added tax.

What happens after I have moved?

Re-registering your address

As soon as you have found new accommodation and therefore have a new address, you should inform the registration office (Meldebehörde) responsible soon. The deadline for re-registering is between one and two weeks as a rule. If you re-register late, you may have to pay a fine. In addition, late re-registration can, in certain circumstances, have negative repercussions for your residence status.

Have your post forwarded

If you have moved house, you should ask the post office to forward your post. Your letters and parcels will then be automatically forwarded to your new address for an agreed period. This service is however not free of charge. You should also use the period during which your mail is being redirected to inform banks, insurance companies, other authorities, etc., that you have moved.

Changing your telephone connection

If you have a landline telephone number, you should remember to change or it or have it disconnected in good time before you move.

Support from the state

Social housing

Most towns and municipalities have social housing (Sozialwohnungen) which are subsidised by the state in order to keep rents low. Such accommodation may therefore only be let to needy groups within the population. You need a Wohnberechtigungsschein (certificate of eligibility for social housing) in order to qualify for this kind of accommodation. If your income is below a certain threshold, you can apply for the certificate of eligibility for social housing from your town or municipal authority. Usually the housing office is responsible for this.

Housing benefit

As a tenant, you may be entitled to housing benefit. The amount of any entitlement depends on how many people live in your household, the level of your total income and the amount of rent that you have to pay.

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You can calculate how much your housing benefit will be and if you are eligible to claim it using a housing benefit calculator. Several Federal Länder provide such a facility on the Internet.

Owners of apartments or houses can also receive a state benefit, known as the "burdens subsidy" (Lastenzuschuss). This subsidy is contingent on the number of eligible household members, the level of the total monthly income and the burden that needs to be considered. Further information and the necessary forms can be obtained from the housing benefit offices in your town or local authority.

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You can obtain further information in your area from:

  • the Municipal, Local Authority and Regional Administration: housing office
  • daily newspapers
  • advertising newspapers
  • estate agents (fee payable in event of an agreement being reached)
  • the Internet.
Date 17 December 2015

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