For members


Renting in Germany: What to know about the ‘Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung’

The German language is known for having exceptionally long words. And here is one that you need to know if you're applying to rent a home.

A flat searching sign in Eimsbüttel, Hamburg.
Eine Wohnungs-Suchanzeige hängt an einer Ampel im Stadtteil Eimsbüttel. +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

What is the Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung?

We’re glad you asked. This absolute monster of a word – with nine syllables – translates to ‘certificate of freedom from rent debts’ or ‘rent debt-free certificate.’

Tenants in Germany usually have to prove to their prospective landlord that they reliably pay their rent. And one of the most popular ways of doing this is with a certificate that shows you are free from any rental debts.

It is essentially a piece of paper from your landlord explaining that you have paid all of your rent on time and you don’t have arrears. It has to be signed and can be included in your Bewerbermappe (application portfolio) when you’re applying to rent a flat or house.  

It acts as proof of the creditworthiness of the prospective tenant.

Why do I need this document?

You don’t need it (although some landlords may ask for it), however, it will give you an advantage over other tenants applying for flats. This is essential to know in places like Berlin, Munich and Hamburg where demand for affordable flats far outstrips supply. 

Who issues the certificate?

The rent debt-free document can be issued by the landlord or their property manager (Hausverwaltung). If you are living in a shared flat, it’s also possible to get it from the main tenant (Hauptmieter) who can sign the document for a sub-tenant on behalf of the landlord. 

However, German real estate and renting portal Immowelt says that your landlord is under no obligation to issue the rental debt-free certificate to tenants. 

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

Flats in Frankfurt, Hesse.

Flats in Frankfurt, Hesse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Can parents issue a rent debt-free certificate?

Parents cannot issue this document to their children. However, if the parents of a trainee or student vouch for their child, and live in rented accommodation themselves, they can have their landlord issue a rent debt-free certificate for the child.

However, this option doesn’t work if the parents live in their own property. In this case, an alternative could be to include the parents in the tenancy agreement as guarantors. 

What does a rental debt-free certificate say?

It usually contains the following information:

  • Name of the tenant
  • Address of the rented flat
  • Confirmation that there are no rent arrears or information on existing rent debts
  • Confirmation of regular, timely payment
  • Name, address and signature of the landlord/property manager/main tenant

Can I be charged a fee for this?

The question of whether and how much money a landlord can charge for issuing a certificate of freedom from rent debts has not been clarified by law. However, since it is a service that the landlord does not have to provide, there is some evidence to suggest that the landlord can charge for this service.

Since the document is no more than a single piece of paper, you would hope that landlords would oblige. 

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

But according to Immowelt, a fee of up to €50 would be considered a reasonable fee. Charges on the amount of fees for receipts and certificates may also be regulated in people’s tenancy agreements.

On the other hand, the landlord is free to issue the confirmation free of charge – especially if they are offered a fully completed form by the tenant and only need to check it and sign. 

You can find plenty of samples of a typical Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung online which you can download and adapt. 

If your landlord refuses to issue this certificate, there are ways to get around it. For instance, you can provide evidence of bank transfers paying for your rent every month. 

How current does the rent debt-free certificate have to be?

There are no legal regulations on how up-to-date the certificate has to be, and it depends on the prospective landlord’s requirements. Credit reports are usually valid for six to six months so this can act as a guideline. 

How important is this Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung anyway?

The certificate showing you have no rent arrears has no legal significance, and in many cases contains neither information about the duration of the certified period nor statements about the payment of operating costs.

The certificate also doesn’t provide any information about the current or expected future creditworthiness of the prospective tenant.

It serves to give a snapshot of how the tenant has behaved in their last apartment when it comes to paying rent on time. 

As is typical of German bureaucracy, the more documents you can give to a prospective landlord, the happier they will be. They are trying to get an overall impression of the potential tenant and want as much security as possible. 

What happens if I forge the document?

As with any forgery, we’d always advise: don’t do it! 

If the new landlord has any doubts about a a rental debt-free certificate, they can get in touch with the tenant and ask to contact the previous landlord (they can’t contact them without the tenant’s permission). But that could make things a little awkward…

If the certificate of freedom from rent debts is found to be forged by the new landlord, this is considered a breach of contract and is grounds for terminating the tenancy without notice.

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For members


EXPLAINED: How to deal with excessive noise in your German flat

Your home should be a relaxing place to be, but what if you're dealing with endless screaming rows from the neighbours, barking dogs or endless drilling from building work? Here's what the German law says about situations like this.

EXPLAINED: How to deal with excessive noise in your German flat

Environmental or neighbourhood noise

When discussing noise complaints, it’s important to distinguish between what’s known as “environmental noise” and what’s known as “neighbourhood noise”. In a legal sense, environmental noise is understood to be noise that isn’t generated by the landlord and isn’t under their control. Neighbourhood noise, meanwhile, refers to all noise disturbances that result from living under one roof or in a residential complex, as well as all disturbances from the surrounding neighbourhood, such as a loud party next door. 

What kind of noise is allowed – and what isn’t? 

Generally, there are some hard-and-fast rules about when noise is allowed to be made in your region. Designated ‘quiet’ times often fall on Sundays, in the evenings and around midday, meaning neighbours, builders and local businesses should make a concerted effort to keep noise to a minimum.

However, to keep the peace (quite literally), your landlord has probably put together another set of rules in the Hausordnung, which should guide you on what is and isn’t permissible.

These might include restricting practicing music instruments to a few hours a day outside of quiet hours, bans on keeping loud pets such as dogs, guidance on the optimum volume to listen to music, and rules around hosting parties. 

If you want to know specifically what the rules are in your apartment building, look up the designated quiet times in your state along with these house rules, which you should have been notified of when signing the contract. 

READ ALSO: Renting in Germany: What you need to know about keeping pets

When does noise count as “excessive”? 

All types of noise can naturally grate on the nerves, though as we’ve explained above, some types of noise are hard to deal with because they’re deemed to be unavoidable. That includes things the aforementioned environmental noise, such as hoards of children screaming and chatting as they walk home from a nearby school, general traffic noise or planes flying overhead. 

On the other hand, if a neighbour is having a noisy BBQ in their garden or another is playing music at all times of the day or night, those are often avoidable causes of noise and could be grounds for a complaint to your landlord or the authorities.

When it comes to children, a bit of noise is to be expected, but this doesn’t mean that anything goes. Parents should never let children play in the stairwell and should try and ensure that noise levels don’t get out of hand, especially during designated quiet times. 

children in Hamburg

Children play in a Hamburg flat. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Mascha Brichta

With local businesses such as bars and restaurants in the neighbourhood, things get a little bit more complicated. If you were aware of the presence of these business when you moved in, you probably won’t have the right to complain – unless they breach the ‘quiet period’ rules. Another exception is if the business suddenly expands its capacity, moves tables onto the street, or extends its opening hours. For these unforeseen circumstances, you may be able to seek some form of compensation from the landlord. 

Building work – though potentially unavoidable – can also be grounds for complaint, especially if the work is affecting your quality of life. Even if builders are only working within permissible hours, having endless drilling or hammering above and below you can definitely make your home a much less relaxing place to be. It’s important to note once again that the noise doesn’t have to be confined to your building. If work is being done in a neighbouring house or in the street and is also affecting your quality of life, it may be time to take action. 

What can I do if it’s too noisy? 

If a neighbour is causing excessive noise, it could be that they’re unaware how loud they are or that the noise from their flat is bleeding through to other homes in the building. In these cases, often a brief, friendly chat or a polite note left in their mailbox can clear things up. 

If the noise is outside of the designated “quiet” times in your state and they refuse to keep the noise down, you are well within your rights to call the police. Generally, quiet periods last from around 10pm to 6am and all day on Sundays. In some states, you’ll also have a midday quiet period of a few hours around lunchtime. But check in your rental contract because there could be slight differences. 

For ongoing issues such as building work or excessive noise from neighbours, you could have grounds for a rent reduction. The amount of rent that’s reduced will depend on how severe the issue is, but could be anywhere between five and 40 percent. To make a complaint about a neighbour that is regularly noisy, you may have to make what’s known as a Mängelanzeige (a notice of defects or grievances). This is essentially a record of the times that you experienced excessive noise, details of who was responsible, and the dates and times of each incident. 

If you’re still not sure if you have a good case or if your landlord is being uncooperative, it could be a good idea to seek the advice of an expert at your local Mietverein (Tenants’ Association). They may be able to advise you further on your case and give you an idea of how much of a rent reduction (if any) you would be eligible for. 

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