In this column, Angelika, a lawyer in our team, addresses legal questions. Today we are talking about papers that are important when looking for an apartment. What to do if no valid passport can be presented when signing the contract? The following information and advice do not refer to this particular case alone. They contain important information for everyone who is looking for an apartment.
„Dear Sir or Madam,
My name is Obaida and I am from Syria. Other than my wife’s and daughter’s passports, my passport has expired. The immigration office will not issue me a new passport. Now that I have found an apartment for my family, the landlord said that he needs my passport in order to sign the lease with me. What can I do?“
It’s great that you found an apartment. It is not that easy. Usually, your residence permit and the passports of your family should be enough for your landlord.
There is no law that says that a valid passport is required to rent an apartment. However, you should present documents that show that the identity of the future tenant is clear (identity card, residence permit).
Many landlords also require credit information from SCHUFA which can be downloaded free of charge here. Here you will find a good guide.
However, every landlord is free to choose with whom he concludes a rental agreement and on what terms.
Apartment hunting – what can I do?
One piece of advice when looking for an apartment is to put together a folder from which a landlord or realtor can see everything about you and your family:
- Copies of your identity documents
- Current Schufa information
- Salary statement / statement from the Jobcenter
- Short cover letter – maybe with a photo of the whole family – stating who you are and what you all do (school, job, German courses etc.)
If you are a recipient of benefits from the Jobcenter and the rent is to be paid by the Jobcenter, the Jobcenter must approve the rental agreement before you sign it. If you sign the lease without the approval, it is possible that nothing or not the full amount of the rent will be paid by the Jobcenter.
According to the regulations in § 22 SGB II, both the costs and the size of an apartment must be appropriate:
Examples of adequate apartments in Hamburg (in other federal states other amounts apply!):
- 1 person 50sqm gross cold rent € 481
- 2 persons in a so-called community of need up to 65sqm gross cold rent €577,20
- 3 persons in a community of need up to 80 sqm gross cold rent € 696,75
- 4 persons in a community of need up to 95 sqm gross cold rent € 836,10
In addition to the gross cold rent, the Jobcenter also pays the heating and operating costs (caution: you must notify the Jobcenter if the landlord repays operating costs).
Security deposits for rent may not exceed 3 months’ rent. They may be granted as a loan by the Jobcenter upon application before signing the lease – if special conditions are met.
The payment of brokerage fees by the Jobcenter can only be granted if the rental of an apartment is not otherwise possible without a broker.
There are many ways to find an apartment. But it is sometimes very difficult! Please do not fall for dubious offers. Often people offer apartments at very low prices but want to have the deposit or another amount of money and the first rent before you even get to see the apartment. They may tell you they themselves live abroad or another excuse why they cannot be on site and that the keys of the apartment would be sent after paying the amount of money or handed over by a third person. If you pay, you will never see a key and the money is gone.
It is usual and serious that you look at an apartment, and then you and also the landlord decide whether you want to sign a lease for this apartment. Only after both parties have signed the contract, the deposit is due and before moving in, the rent is due, i.e. only then you should pay!
We wish you success with your search for an apartment!
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