How does the apartment deposit (Mietkaution) work in Germany?

How does the apartment deposit (Mietkaution) work in Germany?

Here's how you pay your apartment deposit (Kaution) in Germany, and how you get all of it back when you move out.

Before you move into an apartment in Germany, you must give the landlord a deposit (Kaution). The landlord keeps that deposit until you move out. If nothing needs to be repaired, you will get the whole deposit back. If something needs to be repaired, the landlord will use your deposit to pay for the repairs.

How much is the Kaution?

The Mietkaution is usually equivalent to 3 times the cold rent (Kaltmiete)1. That's the maximum amount landlords can ask for1, 2. Some landlords ask for less.

What if I don't have enough money?

Even if you get your deposit back when you leave the apartment, it's still a lot of money to set aside. There are ways to pay your caution if you don't have the money right now.

Paying your Kaution in instalments

You are allowed to pay the deposit in 3 parts1. That means you can pay 1/3 of the deposit before you move in, 1/3 before the end of the first month, and 1/3 before the end of the second month1.

Paying with a Mietkautionskonto

If you don't have enough money to cover the deposit, you can also open a Mietkautionskonto. The bank pays the deposit for you, and you slowly pay it back, with some fees. This service is also called a Mietaval, or a Mietbürgschaft.

The following banks offer a Mietkautionskonto:

When do I pay the Kaution?

Normally, you sign the rent contract, then transfer the first month's rent and the Kaution, then receive the keys to the apartment.

Do not send any money before you have visited the apartment and signed a contract with the landlord. There are scammers who will ask for a Kaution for an apartment that doesn't exist, then disappear with your money.

Where does my Kaution go?

Your deposit will go in a savings account. The landlord can't use your deposit money. Any interest paid by the bank belongs to you, not to the landlord1. You can also agree with the landlord to invest the money somewhere else.

When do I get my Kaution back?

When you move out, the landlord has 6 months to return your caution, or to inform you about the damage you caused.

Will I get all of my Kaution back?

This depends on the condition of the apartment. If the landlord has to make repairs, he will use your deposit to pay for them. However, you do not have to pay to fix normal wear and tear1, 2, and you are not responsible for the damage that was already there when you moved in1.

When you give the apartment keys back (the Wohnungsübergabe), you will fill a handover document (Übergabeprotokoll). In this document, you describe the state of the apartment, and what needs to be repaired.

In this document, you should record everything. Take a lot of pictures, and consider bringing a lawyer with you during the handover1. This prevents the landlord from discovering "additional damages" later, and from using your deposit to fix them1. Don't let the landlord fill the Übergabeprotokol alone. Don't sign it unless you agree with everything in it.


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