What is meant by "rent"?

There are at least three types of what "rent" can mean. 

1. Rent = cold rent without utilities
2. Rent = warm rent including utilities
3. Rent = warm rent but heating and warm water costs not included (sic!)

Funny as that may sound, it is very important that you are familiar with these. So when you rent, always ask the agent or landlord: "Is this rent an all-inclusive rent or a cold rent?"

Now lets go through all possible situations on this:

Situation 1: Rent means cold rent (Kaltmiete) with utilities being paid extra.

Utilities are advanced with a monthly installment and balanced to the end of the year. In German this means that the so-called "Nebenkosten" (utilities or ancillary costs) are split into about 21 individual positions {utilities} (find out what they are here). 

In that case you need to make sure you understand how this works: You pay an extra to the cold rent every month together with the cold rent as an advance (not a final) payment for utilities. Depending on consumption of heat energy and water mainly the final balance can be higher or lower to what you have paid in advance. In that case the balance is equalled with you paying the difference to the landlord or the landlord paying back to you what you paid too much. 

In cases of heat and warm water not included (as you would pay these directly to the provider) there should not be much of a difference usually, because the other cost positions are common costs that normally are well known by the landlord in advance. 

It is your legal right to receive the final balancing no later than 31. December of the following year. If it comes later, the landlord may lose his right to request balance if you had paid less than estimated but still has to refund you in case you have paid too much.

Situation 2: Warm rent including utilities.

This is frequently done with furnished apartments which are often rented for a limited period of time like six months or a year, whereby a balancing of utilities is too inconvenient for the landlord. In that case you still need to verify which utilities are really included and which ancillary costs are not. For example, if there is a warm water and heating boiler inside an apartment the tenant may have to pay these costs himself. Same is often true of electricity or internet. In our new website we have taken respect of all these various possibilities so that you may get a clear picture of all costs connected to renting. But general internet offers often do not reflect this, so make sure to ask your agent or landlord about these.

Situation 3: Warm rent but electricity and heating not included

I am specifically mentioning this as it is a bit of a semantic idiocy: How can one speak of "warm rent" when heating cost is not included in the rent? Just be aware of that and apply your knowledge of this to ask if "Warmmiete" includes heating (and warm water) or if that is to be paid extra.

Having understood this stuff, now learn more about house hunting in Part 3 of our article.


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