7 hidden pitfalls in rental contracts

Pay attention to the fine print: some landlords shamelessly exploit the housing shortage in congested urban areas. So keep your eyes peeled when you read through your new rental agreement. PROGEDO consultants examine hundreds of rental agreements every year and know the worst provisions >>

If you are looking for an apartment in the currently constrained market situation, you may well consider yourself lucky if you have both found the perfect place and have been selected by the landlord from among all the prospective tenants as well. But if you now just hastily sign the contract you might be in for a rude awakening. As part of the Home Search service, PROGEDO relocation offers an in-depth review of the tenancy agreement which uncovers all the problematic provisions and – if necessary – provides support with renegotiations to our customers.

Which are the 7 biggest pitfalls?

  1. Waiving your right of cancellation: one of the most important rights in the field of contracts is the right to terminate an agreement. You ought to avoid having a minimum rental period fixed in your contract because in most cases you will have to pay the rent for the entire duration, even if you move out earlier for personal reasons.
  2. Lump-sum operating costs: operating cost should always be billed according to actual consumption or another appropriate measure of costs. If you pay a lump sum, you’re quite probably paying too much.
  3. Graduated rent: if the agreed-upon increases are very high and your income is not keeping pace, you run the risk of having your new home turn into a money pit.
  4. Living space: this is where many landlords get rather creative and tenants pay for more square meters than there actually are in their apartment. If you have doubts, measure every room and have the actual floor space fixed in the contract.
  5. Deficiencies of the apartment: if you accept an apartment with deficiencies, you can demand rectification but you cannot abate the rent. It’s always better therefore to go through the handover procedure together with a PROGEDO consultant.
  6. Decorative repairs: the devil is in the details! Depending on the exact wording of this clause, you might be facing rather substantial financial burdens over the years and especially when you move out. Or the load might be a lighter one than you initially thought. Just to be on the safe side, you should have PROGEDO examine the wording in your contract before signing it.
  7. Cosignatories: All signatories of a contract are jointly liable. Especially lodgers in a shared apartment need to be careful: if one person leaves, the remaining lodger(s) have to pay for the whole apartment.

For those who are neither fluent in German nor well versed in German tenancy law, it is really important to get swift and competent support. In many cases, booking the PROGEDO home search service pays for itself through the money you save by avoiding one or more of these 7 pitfalls. The market intelligence of PROGEDO also protects you from renting an overpriced apartment, of which there are alas plenty despite the lease price cap.