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HOUSING

COMPARE: The cities in Germany with the fastest-rising rents

Rents are rising rapidly throughout Germany, but which cities have seen the biggest price hikes on asking prices over the past five years? We take a look at the some of the surprising (and not-so-surprising) answers to that question.

COMPARE: The cities in Germany with the fastest-rising rents
New rental contracts in Stuttgart can be pricey. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

Tenants’ rights and soaring rents are high up on the agenda in this year’s parliamentary and state elections – and for good reason.

A recent study conducted by property search portal Immowelt revealed that rents on new contracts have risen in at least 80 major German cities over the past five years – with 34 cities seeing rents rise by 20 percent or more over the same period of time.

Most shocking of all – but also unsurprising – was the fact that rents on new flats advertised in the capital have risen by an astounding 42 percent, with renters in Berlin expecting to pay on average €4 more per square metre in 2021 on new contracts as they did in 2016. 

READ ALSO: ‘Stressed and depressed’: How Berlin’s rent cap fiasco has affected foreign tenants

The chart below put together by Immowelt shows the average asking price per square metre in cities with the fastest rising rents in 2016 compared to 2021.


Source: Immowelt

Rents also rose significantly in some of the notoriously expensive cities in southern and western Germany.

In eastern Germany, there were much smaller increases in rental prices – with the exception of Leipzig (or “Hypezig“, as some have termed it) which has been attracting an influx of hip, arty types over the past few years.

However, despite prices rising in Leipzig by over a fifth (22 percent), these trendy newcomers are still likely to be paying less than €8 per square metre for their new rental apartments. 

Rents outpacing inflation in most cities

The source for the study was listings on the Immowelt portal in the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2021. A wide range of properties were looked at, ranging between 40 square metres and 120 square metres in size, and all ages of property from Altbau (older properties) to Neubau (new-build properties) were included in the study. 

As Immowelt notes, Germany saw inflation of eight percent over the same period. But the price rises in 75 of the 85 cities studied outpaced inflation. 

Here’s how much the prices on flat offers rose in some of Germany’s most popular cities in just half a decade. 

Berlin: 42 percent

To anyone who’s been living – or, worse, flat-hunting – in Berlin over the past few years, it won’t come as much of a surprise that Berlin is topping the league table for rent increases. 

As we mentioned, rents in the capital have risen 42 percent over the past five years. While in the first months of 2016, the average renter paid €9 per square metre, in 2021, the average is €12.80 per square metre.

For those who’ve been following the news lately, the dates of the study will also come as a nasty shock. 

According to Immowelt, the dramatic rise in rents occurred “despite the fact that the rent cap was introduced and the asking rents for regulated existing apartments had fallen since the law was announced in June 2019”.

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Unfortunately, that’s likely to mean even steeper price rises in the future. 

“After the rent cap was dropped in April of this year, there was a rebound effect that is likely to continue in the coming months,” Immowelt explained.

Living in Berlin may be nice – but it’s expensive. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Stuttgart: 27 percent

An infamously pricey city, Stuttgart, in Baden-Württemburg, saw rental prices climb by 27 percent between 2016 and 2019. It now ranks sixth in Immowelt’s list of cities where the rents are rising fastest. 

While those who moved to the city five years ago might have been able to secure a flat there for €10.90 per square metre, you can now expect to shell out an eye-watering €13.80 per square metre for your new Stuttgart pad. 

Munich: 24 percent

For several years in a row, Munich was crowned most expensive city in Germany, and with price rises of more than 24 percent over five years, it continues to be a strong contender.

As reported by The Local, the city council has been putting forward big plans recently to try and curb price hikes in the city. From the sounds of it, they may well be needed: the average renter can expect to pay an unbelievable €19.20 per square metre to live in the Bavarian capital in 2021, up from €15.50 in 2016. 

READ ALSO:

Hamburg: 19 percent 

In Hamburg, average rents rose by 19 percent over five years, up from €10.50 per square metre in mid-2016 to €12.50 in the middle of this year.

At €12.50 per square metre, however, the northern city state – which has previously been crowned the richest city in Germany – has slipped behind Berlin in terms of its rental prices.

Renters in the harbour city can now feel smug in the knowledge that they currently pay around €0.40 less on average than their counterparts in the German capital.

Frankfurt: 16 percent

Home to big banks and powerful corporations, Frankfurt is also counted among Germany’s most expensive cities, and prices there also continue to rise steeply. 

Over the past five years, average rents in Hesse’s largest city have climbed from €12.50 to €14.50, representing an increase of 16 percent.

Frankfurt is known for its stunning skyline. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

However, as in Hamburg and Stuttgart, Immowelt has seen the upward curve start to flatten over the past year – potentially thanks to the upheaval caused by Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Where rents are falling (and going up) in Germany’s biggest cities

Dresden: 13 percent 

A small glimmer of light on a gloomy horizon, Dresden’s rents rose by a modest 13 percent over the period looked at – which equated to a 90 cent per square metre price rise for tenants.

The more subtle rent increase in Saxony’s capital reflects a wider trend across the eastern parts of Germany, where prices have tended to remain lower. Even after a more than 10 percent price rise in Dresden, the average renter will pay the bargain price of €7.90 per square metre on new contracts to live in Dresden, compared with €7 in 2016.  

Medium-sized cities

With the exception of Berlin, the largest percentage increases tended to be in smaller cities.

Heilbronn (+38 percent) in Baden-Württemberg and Offenbach in Hesse (+30 percent) ranked second and fourth on the list respectively, and are gradually catching up with the metropolises. In 2021, rents in both cities cracked the €11 mark.

Freiburg (+26 percent) and Heidelberg (+25 percent), both in BaWü, were also listed among the top 10 most expensive cities in the country, with square meter prices of €13.00 and €12.50 respectively.

In Hildesheim in Lower Saxony (+33 percent) and Kaiserslautern in Rhineland-Palatinate (+28 percent), on the other hand, rents are still low in spite of a steep rise: just under €8 per square meter in both cities.

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RENTING

Everything you should know about renting a furnished flat in Germany

Furnished properties are increasingly popular in Germany - but it's worth knowing the rules around them to make sure you don't get overcharged. Here's everything you need to know before signing the contract on a furnished flat.

Everything you should know about renting a furnished flat in Germany

For someone moving to a new country or city, it seems like a dream scenario: you find a new place, pick up the key, and simply move in and unpack. Everything you need, from your bed to your coffee table, is already there waiting for you. 

You can dispense with the endless trawls through IKEA showrooms and trips across town to pick up second-hand furniture on Ebay Kleinanzeigen – not to mention the stress of endless decisions on colour schemes and measurements. 

It’s exactly this that makes furnished flats such a popular choice with foreigners. While they may not be a long-term option, the ease and flexibility of being able to move-in straight away makes them a great short- or medium-term option while you’re finding your feet in a city.

So, what’s the catch? 

A search for furnished flats on any rental property portal will reveal all. 

For around 30 square metres in Hamburg – the size of a large hotel room – it’s not unusual to see prices of around €2,700 or more per month, which amounts to a pretty hefty €90 per square metre. In Berlin, €3,000 per month may well be the price you pay for a tiny studio in a central location: €100 per square metre.

In the banking hub of Frankfurt, things are marginally more affordable. Here, a 30-square-metre furnished flat will set you back around €1,500. But that’s still a pretty steep €50 per square metre. 

Listings like these can give the impression that landlords are allowed to charge whatever they please for a furnished property. Thankfully, that’s not true – though the rules can get a little bit murky, especially when it comes to short-term lets.

READ ALSO: Six confusing things about renting a flat in Germany

Here’s a few other things you need to know. 

What is a furnished flat?

If a flat is rented as a furnished flat, it should have at least the bare essentials that are required to live in it. Generally, that would mean a bed, wardrobe, table, chairs and sofa, etc. 

However, you can occasionally find furnished flats that are “löffelfertig” (spoon-ready), which as the name suggests means they have everything you need, right down to cutlery and crockery. 

Why are furnished flats more expensive?

Generally speaking, landlords are entitled to compensation for the furniture they buy for the property, which can push the monthly rent up by as much as a few hundred euros per month. 

Since they don’t have to be clear about these costs and how different parts of the rent are calculated, some landlords may inflate the base rent as well, meaning that tenants may end up paying way over the odds. 

It’s also worth knowing that if properties are specifically defined as either holiday or short-term lets, landlords are exempt from many of the usual rent controls. 

Furnished holiday flat Germany

A modern furnished flat in Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Bades Huk | BRITA SOENNICHSEN

If the furnished flat is considered to be a holiday let, then the tenant is often required to pay tourist tax for each night they stay there. In this case, the flat also doesn’t have to be furnished to a particularly high standard as it is only intended to be lived in for a very short time. You may find this type of flat absurdly pricey compared to normal rentals in the city, and if money is a concern it’s best to steer clear of holiday lets for longer-term stays. 

If you work in the city and are staying somewhere for more than two months, the landlord may decide to class the property as a temporary let. In this case, the landlord is exempted from clauses like the Mietpreisbremse (rent brake), which are designed to slow down the rate of rent increases, and you should have a clear duration or move-out date specified in your contract.  

It’s important to note that the landlord will usually have to give a good reason for restricting the time period of the rental. This could be the fact that they or their family want to use it themselves or are planning renovations at a later date. 

READ ALSO: Altbau vs Neubau: What’s the difference and which should I rent in Germany?

How much more can my landlord charge?

As mentioned above, holiday and temporary flats can often be rented out for eye-watering prices – but there are strict rules on categorising a rental flat as temporary or holiday accommodation.

For an ordinary furnished rental, the rent should usually be roughly based on standard prices for similar properties in the same area (a system known as the Mietspiegel), with any premium features or fixtures adding slightly more to the monthly rent. As mentioned above, the landlord can also charge a surplus for the furnishings they include in the flat.

The broad rule of thumb here is that this should be linked to the value of the furniture and its depreciation in value of the course of time. Though landlords aren’t forced to be transparent about the system they use, the two most commonly used ones are the Hamburg and the Berlin model. 

Furnished flat

A cosy bedroom in a furnished flat. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/VDM | Rauch

With the Berlin model, the landlord is allowed to charge two percent of the total value of the furniture each month.

The furniture is assumed to have a lifespan of 10 years, so if the furniture is new when the tenant moves in, they can charge two percent of the purchase price of the furniture each month. If all the furniture in a flat cost the landlord €5,000, that would amount to €100 extra in rent each month. The value of the furniture goes down by ten percent per year, so after five years the landlord would charge €50 per month on top of rent, and after ten there would be no surcharge.

The Hamburg model assumes that furniture goes down in value over the course of seven years, after which time it’s worth just 30 percent of its purchase price. The amount that the tenant pays towards the cost of the furnishings each year is based on these calculations.

READ ALSO: 

Can I take furniture out of a furnished flat?

Yes! If you’re someone who likes to put your own stamp on a place, then you’re fully entitled to replace some of the furniture with your own.

But – and this is a big ‘but’ – you’ll be responsible for storing the furniture safely until you move out, and putting everything back in its previous place.

In other words, we don’t recommend chucking the coffee table out on the street with a ‘Zu verschenken’ label before moving in your own piece. We guarantee your landlord will not be amused once they find out. 

To clarify what’s meant to be in the flat when you move in (and when you move out), tenancy law experts recommend having a full inventory in the contract. That should help you avoid any nasty disputes in the future.

What if the furniture is damaged, missing or defective? 

If furniture is damaged, missing or unusable, you’re entitled to have it repaired or replaced and can also ask for a rent reduction.

Once again, it’s useful to have a full inventory of what should be in the flat to help you with these negotiations.

Do tenants in furnished flats have the same rights as other tenants?

Generally, yes. Having furnishings inside a property doesn’t change the legal status of the contract.

That means that your landlord can’t, for example, suddenly ask you to move out at short notice and without any cause. As mentioned, they also need to have a specific reason for limiting the duration of your contract – otherwise the move-out date isn’t valid. 

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