21 Jul Renting in Germany Warm vs Cold Rent
Rent in Germany is usually presented as “kalt” (cold) or “warm”
OK you’ve made the big decision to uproot your life and move to Berlin or another city in Germany. You start looking around and you see two similar places, one renting for 550€ warm, the other 600€ warm. This is where it can be very confusing as two similar units could have very different “warm” rents. This could be for a variety of reasons. But before we get into that let’s explain exactly what Warm and Cold rent (warmmiete und kaltmiete).
The best way to understand it to think of this as rent plus utilities!
Unfortunately it’s not just the usual utilities but also the running costs of the building. You see when rent a place in Berlin or anywhere in Germany for that matter, the landlord is allowed to pass on the running costs of the building.
In German this would be Nebenkosten or NK in German. This includes not only unities but also your building’s maintenance and upkeep as well as property taxes.
The way this works is the condominium management company or Hausverwaltung (literally translated as “house administration”, but more akin in English to the term “condominium management company”). It’s very similar to owing a condominium in the US or Canada. The owner must pay a condo fees (haugeld).
The main difference in Germany is that utilities are included in the condo fees.
How does this work?
Each month you pay both the cold rent and the NK as one payment. So if you’re rent is 500€ a month and NK another 150€ you pay 650€ a month to your landlord. He or She is then responsible for paying the Hausgeld.
The NK is simply an estimate based on last years usage. If you just moved in than the amount will be based on the previous tenants usage or in the case of a brand new unit, an estimate.
At the end of the year the landlord will send you a bill or Betriebskostenabrechnung. There he’ll list all the costs and a note saying if you need to pay more or will be getting a refund.
Why Warm Rents Vary
As mentioned at the beginning the warm rent can vary from unit to unit. This is where it can be get confusing. Why do two similar units have very different “warm” rents. This could be for a variety of reasons. The first one is that heat is not always included. For example my rental units the heat is included but the unit I live in isn’t.
The second reason is the costs to run building can vary from building to building. A well managed building will cost less to run than a poorly run.
But probably the biggest reason is that it is only an estimate. The landlord may set it artificially low to attract a tenant. Unfortunately anyone in who has tried to find accommodation in Berlin or Munich knows this won’t be an issue as demand way outstrips supply, especially at the lower end.
This brings up my next point, it is only an estimate. Unlike the rent which is fixed, NK is only an estimate. The landlord can increase it or reduce it depending on if he thinks costs will increase or decrease.
Here are some excellent links which can help you understand this more.
If you want to attempt some German here are some good articles
Don’t forget I have a free rental guide Tricks and Bicks Germany Expat Guide to Renting
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