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RENTING

REVEALED: The most – and least – popular landlords in Germany

A new survey of the 10 largest landlords in Germany has revealed the nation's most - and least - favourite letting companies. How has your landlord scored?

Rental housing in Berlin
A row of houses in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Zacharie Scheurer

It’s well known that the majority of people in Germany are tenants, and though there are number of small letting agents, the market is mostly dominated by a few large corporations.

You’ve probably heard names like Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen crop up in headlines about the housing crisis, rent caps and campaigns for expropriation. You may have even rented from one or two of them. 

What’s often overlooked is that the landlord you end up with can make a huge difference to your satisfaction as a tenant. But how do you know if you’re picking the right one?

This question was investigated by consumer rights firm Rightmart Rechtsanwälte, who conducted a survey of 13,500 Google reviews of the top 10 landlords in Germany. 

Overall, the verdict wasn’t particularly positive, with the landlords averaging 2.8 out of 5 stars across all the reviews. But there were significant differences across the spectrum. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: Germany’s rent crisis is fuelled by fear and foolish solutions

Vonovia is the ‘least popular landlord’

Housing conglomerate Vonovia, which describes itself as “Germany’s leading residential real estate company”, received the worst rating of any of the 10 landlords. Of around 2,180 reviews, the company received an average star rating of just 2.21 stars. 

Having completed its acquisition of fellow major landlord Deutsche Wohnen last year, the company currently owns around two percent of Germany’s rental housing stock. 

Berlin-based letting agent Adler Real Estate, which owns around 52,000 properties, came in second to last with an average of 2.34 stars on Google across 897 reviews.

LEG Immobilien Group also got a clear thumbs down from the reviewers, coming in third-last place in Rightmart’s study. Of a total of 1,326 ratings, the company received an average of 2.53 stars.

Somewhat surprisingly for anyone following the Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co. campaign in Berlin (a campaign to bring the properties of major landlords into state hands), the most public target of the campaign came fourth-last in terms of tenant satisfaction. Coming just behind LEG, Deutsche Wohnen received an average star rating of 2.56 out of a total of 2,158 reviews. 

READ ALSO: ‘Housing is a human right’: Rent activists step up pressure ahead of German elections

German landlord ranking

The largest landlords in Germany rated by customer satisfaction. Source: Rightmart Rechtsanwälte

Hogowe comes out on top 

On the other side of the spectrum, Hogowe – one of Berlin’s six municipal housing associations – was ranked highest among any of the landlords in terms of customer satisfaction.

The housing association, which says it wants to help create a “Berlin worth living in now and the future”, managed a highly respectable 3.54 stars across a total of 1,726 Google reviews.

Fellow state housing association DeGeWo came in joint second place alongside TAG Immobilien, with both companies receiving 3.44 stars on the back of 26 and 1,126 ratings respectively.

In third place is the housing company Vivawest, which rents out properties in western German states like North Rhine-Westphalia. With 1,834 ratings, the company comes in at 3.36 stars.

READ ALSO: How much deposit do I have to pay when renting in Germany?

It’s worth keeping in mind that the study focussed on large landlords. Smaller companies were left out of the ratings, but you may be able to search for other reviews left online if you want to see how your landlord or Hausverwaltung (property management) compares.

Tips for dealing with landlords

According to Jan Frederik Strasmann, managing partner of Rightmart Rechtsanwälte, the results of the survey show just how difficult it can be to navigate the tenant-landlord relationship successfully. 

“The relationship between tenants and landlords can become very emotional, as in many cases it is about one’s own home and one’s private retreat,” he explained. “For this reason – and because Germany is a country of tenants – legislators have set very clear rules for most situations.”

Though heated disputes can still arise as a result of things like rent increases or service charges, Strasmann recommends keeping the following four tips in mind to ensure that a fair legal solution can be found:

  • Tenants should never let themselves be led by emotions when taking action, but should always keep a cool head

  • Contract amendments should never be signed hastily or under pressure, as these amendments will still be valid even if the tenant regrets agreeing to them at a later date

  • In the event of a dispute, communication should usually handled by a lawyer specialising in tenancy law, as untrained consumers can easily make mistakes that could have serious consequences

  • To be properly protected, it is advisable to take out a legal expenses insurance contract that also covers tenancy law or join a tenants’ association. That way tenants can have peace of mind in case disputes arise

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get a rent reduction for problems in your German flat

Useful vocabulary 

housing companies – (die) Wohnungsunternehmen 

landlord – (der) Vermieter 

rating – (die) Bewertung 

satisfied – zufrieden 

most popular – beliebsten 

in the case of a dispute – im Streitfall 

hastily – voreilig 

Have your say 

Which landlords would you recommend to people looking to rent in Germany, and why? Let us know by emailing [email protected]

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Energy levy, lazy pig-dogs and a big bend in Saarland

In our weekly roundup, The Local Germany team looks at how energy bills are increasing, pig-dog insults, tourist spots in Saarland and cultural etiquette when it comes to birthdays.

Living in Germany: Energy levy, lazy pig-dogs and a big bend in Saarland

German households to see gas bill hike in October

Though we’ve all heard the terrifying news about soaring gas prices, most people in Germany haven’t had to bear the full brunt of the rising costs yet. In October, that’s set to change. To help bail out energy firms who have had to buy gas at a hefty premium this year, the government is introducing a new levy that will be added to people’s gas bills. We don’t yet know how much this will be, though it could be as much as five cents per kilowatt hour of energy. That would mean a family of four could pay as much as €1,000 extra per year, and a single-person household could face extra costs of around €300.

Though there are still some issues to iron out with the levy, it seems pretty unavoidable that people will see their bills rise this winter. This week, we looked into whether it could be worth buying an electric heater for the home to save on gas bills, and also delved into the rules around replacing old heating systems. Have you taken any steps to reduce your energy consumption or make your home more efficient this year? Let us know at [email protected]. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Tweet of the week

Just when you think you’ve got to grips with the language, German throws you a curveball like this. (Incidentally, ‘inner pig-dog’ was our Word of the Day a short while ago – be sure to check it out if you’d like to learn more about this wonderful phrase.)

Where is this?

The 'great bend' in Saarland.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Harald Tittel

The blistering weather clearly didn’t stop tourists flocking to see the Saarschleife – or the ‘Great Bend’ – on their summer holidays last week. This magnificent curve in the river Saar can be reached by a treetop walk, culminating in a lookout point where you can take in these breathtaking views. It’s one of Saarland’s most famous tourist attractions and well worth a visit if you find yourself in Germany’s smallest state – though possibly not in 35C heat!

Did you know?

Is it just us, or does everyone’s birthday seem to fall in either July or August? Either that, or people are much more likely to throw a party during the glorious summer months. (Statisticians – let us know.) In any case, if you do get invited to celebrate a birthday with a German friend of yours, you may need to observe some special birthday etiquette to avoid offending anyone.

Most importantly, if you see your friend ahead of their special day, the words “happy birthday” should be banished from your lips as celebrating early is a massive faux pas. And if it happens to be your birthday, don’t expect your German friends to cough up for a round of drinks or a birthday cake. In fact, as the birthday boy or girl, it’s your responsibility to bring treats to the office and you’ll even be expected to buy the drinks at the pub afterwards.

With traditions like these, we won’t blame you if you happen to get a bout of amnesia next time your birthday rolls around…

Thanks for reading,

The Local Germany team

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