Moving in, Paying the Rent, and the Mystery of the German Garbage System
In order to avoid disputes about damages during occupancy, renters should examine the dwelling together with the landlord immediately upon moving in and make a list of damages or necessary repairs and then have them entered in to the lease.
Most leases require tenants to repaint the interior of homes when moving out. In some instances, the landlord may stipulate that the painting is to be done by a company approved by the landlord. If that is not the case and you do not wish to do the painting yourself (beware: the landlord approves whether a job was suitable or not), there are plenty of painters who can be found under the heading of "Malerbetriebe" in the Yellow Pages. German leases often stipulate that tenants take out a household and personal effects insurance (Hausratsversicherung) and personal liability insurance (Haftpflicht-Versicherung). If you have furniture to move, you can either call up a moving service or rent a van or truck to move everything yourself. For rentals, ask your department secretary for advice.
Quiet time or "Ruhezeit" in Germany is holy. It is between 1 pm and 3 pm and 10 pm and 7 am, Monday through Saturday and all day Sunday. Avoid loud noises such as drilling, sawing, hammering, or turning up your stereo. Inform your neighbors if you are planning a party during that time.
Utility and Rent Payments
You will be paying the rent, which cannot be changed for the duration of a lease, and the "Nebenkosten" or additional costs such as heating, staircase cleaning, garbage collection, and water. You will generally pay for electricity separately, directly to the electricity provider. Make sure you include this extra money in your financial plans. Remember to ask your landlord to specify the "Nebenkosten" for you before you sign the rental agreement.
If a tenant uses less heat, for example, than estimated in the lease, he or she is refunded the difference. On the other hand, if the price of one of the "Nebenkosten" rises, such as rubbish collection, during the period covered by a lease, your charges will be raised accordingly. Tenants receive a summary of these extra costs once a year.
Landlords usually require two to three months of rent as a security deposit (Kaution). Security deposits are in the form of interest-bearing savings books taken out by and in the name of the tenant and then turned over to the landlord.
Leases are generally unlimited with a three-month period of notice for both parties, something you need to keep in mind if you want to move to a different place. Be prepared for forthright questions from landlords concerning employer, income, proposed length of stay and ages of children.
The Mystery of the German Garbage System
Garbage separation is mandatory. In your neighborhood, there will be local containers for deposit-free glass bottles and old clothes. Do not throw these into your regular garbage. Ask your neighbors for directions where to find the next containers.
The city usually provides three garbage bins. The green bin is for organic waste, the blue bin is for paper and the dark grey bin is for everything that does not fit into any other category (e.g. general trash). Plastic and metal (including most kinds of packaging) are collected in special yellow bags that are provided free by the recycling service Veolia or the Neues Rathaus. Pickup of all the above happens every two weeks in most areas. Please ask your neighbors for the collection schedule in your area, or check the website of the Göttinger Entsorgungsbetriebe.
Large items such as kitchen appliances and old furniture (Sperrmüll) may be removed free of charge by the city. For more information, ask your landlord.