Refugees looking at an apartment in Weißenfels, Berlin
Refugees looking at an apartment in Weißenfels, Berlin

When refugees come to Germany, they often struggle to find a place to live. Bureaucratic language, discrimination and high rent can make finding an apartment an uphill battle. There are some ways to make the search easier, however.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, there are 686 thousand recognized refugees without apartments in Germany, who remain in refugee housing facilities. Here are a few of the factors that make finding an apartment so difficult in Germany.    

Difficult language

Warmmiete. Nebenkosten. Kaution. German terms like these can be a puzzle to any foreigner. Not only that, but the landlord may only speak German, which could also make getting an appointment difficult. Also when searching for an apartment and asking the landlord when to view the place, the individual may not get a response. Due to housing shortage in part of Germany, particularly in big cities, demand for an apartment may be very high.

Many landlords ask for a SCHUFA, which is a score based on the tenant's credit history. This, along with other documents, may be a challenge for some refugees.

Also once an agreement is made between the landlord and the tenant, the next issue is the contract itself, which can also be riddled with complicated language and references to obscure legal clauses. Refugees and foreigners and Germany may not be totally aware of what they are signing onto. 

One possible solution is to get a interpreter (German: Dolmetscher) to assist you. There are also German dictionaries online that can help you translate ads for apartments such as leo.org or translate.google.com

Discrimination

When it comes to looking for an apartment in Germany, your name may play a role. A study from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich by sociologist Katrin Ausprurg reached the conclusion that discrimination still plays a factor in the housing market, where foreigners with non-Western sounding "ethnic" names are at a disadvantage when looking for a apartment in Germany.

In July, German news magazine Spiegel interview Sociologist Thomas Hinz, said that in Germany "Ethnic minorities often have clear disadvantages in the apartment rental market, as studies have shown: they live on average in smaller apartments, pay higher prices per square meter and are more likely to live in bad areas."

One idea would be to get a real estate agent, or Makler in German, who can negotiate with landlords on your behalf and find you an apartment. Their fee is usually quite expensive, though - usually up to two months rent without utilities. Here is some information in German on how to find the right real estate agent for you. 

High rent

Many refugees and foreigners are not sure about how what constitutes high rent in a certain area of Germany. They might be pressured to put down a high deposit, which legally can be paid over three installments. The deposit must also be kept in a separate account away from the landlords other assets. 

If you want to see how high the rent is in your area on average, check out numbeo.com  There you can put in your city or town in Germany, and see the average cost of an apartment in your area, so you have an idea of what you should pay.   

Need help with dealing with your landlord? Join the Mieterverein

If someone has an issue with a landlord in Germany, such as taking deposit money for the wrong things or being threatened with eviction, one option is to join the Mieterverein, or Tenants Association. Some landlords may try to take advantage of foreigner who may not know the local laws and regulations regarding renting. The association will write letters on your behalf to the landlord and will provide legal insurance if you and your landlord wind up going to court to settle a dispute. To join, the individual would just need to find the local Tenants Association office, which will allow them to sign up and pay a small monthly membership fee.

Where to find an apartment/room - mostly online, sometimes ads in local newspapers still: 

https://www.ebay-kleinanzeigen.de/

https://www.immobilienscout24.de/

https://www.kalaydo.de/immobilien/mietwohnungen/

https://www.fluechtlinge-willkommen.de/

Nettwerk + City Facebook

Local housing office

Tips from the BAMF: 

http://www.bamf.de/EN/Willkommen/Wohnen/SucheUmzug/sucheumzug-node.html

http://www.bamf.de/EN/Willkommen/Wohnen/MieteMietrecht/miete-mietrecht-node.html

 

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