This guide is supposed to orient you in finding a property to rent in Germany and specifically in highly sought-after areas like Frankfurt and Rhine-Main Airport region.
The original article which was written in about 2002 was long since due to be updated a bit. Most of the statements given at the time are still valid and correct. But one major legal change occured in 2015 and is valid since. That is the law that the one who orders an agent has to pay the commission to that agent. How does that apply to you and us? First of all, all of the rental apartments you find advertised by agents or realtors are free of commission charge on the tenants side. The commission in all these cases inevitably must be paid by the landlord. Secondly, if you do not find an apartment within the advertised section of an agencies website and ask that agency or broker to help you find an apartment, it is you as the tenant who in the final end has to pay the commission. So keep an eye on any agents website to make sure he does not charge a house finders fee for an apartment which he already was asked and ordered by a landlord to market for rent.
That warning given ahead, you may ask how much is the commission then, in case it is you who will pay it? Very simple: It is usually two months rent plus VAT.
Easy as this may sound at first glance, it still has some soubtleties you need to know. And we are right in the middle of the German rental system for residential purposes. Note that commercial renting is an entirely different chapter. That rule above on who pays the commission does not necessarily apply to commercial renting. Because the purpose of that law was to prevent that tenants get charged before even taking over an apartment with commission, deposit and first rent which for many tenants was just too much to pay, considering the fact that moving costs and furniture and equipment are not even included in these advance fees.
So lets go into the details in the next article.