For those who want to provide, share or build housing in Germany, there are quite a few bureaucratic efforts and practical challenges involved. It’s not always easy – but it can be done!

Who will pay the rent?
  • Refugees who have found a job pay their rent themselves.
  • Persons already recognised as entitled to asylum are entitled to benefits for accommodation and heating (rent) from the Jobcenter.
  • For those still undergoing the asylum process, LAGeSo will assume the costs for accommodation.
  • Exception: No benefits are paid for short rental periods of less than six months.
Can I choose my flatmate or landlord?

Sure! You won’t be forced to accept an arrangement you aren’t comfortable with. Our initiatives will ensure you’ll meet your future flatmate/tenant before moving in. If all is well, then great. If not, let us know!

What is the maximum rent allowed?

In Germany, the term “Bruttokaltmiete” refers to the monthly rent including maintenance costs (such as the costs for waste collection), but excluding the costs for heating and warm water supply. The latter must be paid separately.

The maximum rents are based on the standard rates of social assistance paid in Germany. For refugees, an additional 20% (amounts in brackets) is still acceptable.

  • 1 person: EUR 364.50 (EUR 437.40)
  • 2 persons: EUR 437.40 (EUR 524.88)
  • 3 persons: EUR 518.25 (EUR 621.90)
  • 4 persons: EUR 587.35 (EUR 704.82)
  • 5 persons: EUR 679.97 (EUR 815.96)
  • 6 persons: EUR 764.09 (EUR 916.91)
  • 7 persons: EUR 848.21 (EUR 1017.85)
  • Each additional person: EUR 80.12 (EUR 100.94)

 

Here, you will find an overview of the current upper rent limits and heating costs accepted by the social assistance office / LaGeSo. The Jobcenter employees can decide to add another 10% at their own discretion.

Does NestWerk also provide accommodation services to minors?

Finding accommodation for children is very complicated because it requires cooperation with the German youth welfare authorities (Jugendamt). Therefore, our initiatives limit their efforts to persons who are at least 18 years of age. Many of these young adults are craving for a caring environment and would love to stay with a German family or in a shared flat in order to establish social contacts and get accustomed to life in Germany.

If you intend to accommodate children or youths, you are advised to contact the responsible youth welfare office, the Working Committee Young Refugees of the Berlin Refugee Council (Arbeitskreis Junge Flüchtlinge des Berliner Flüchtlingsrates) or the Federal Association for Unaccompanied Minor Refugees (Bundesfachverband unbegleitete minderjährige Flüchtlinge, in short: BumF). If you wish to get involved in voluntary activities to help unaccompanied minor refugees, get in touch with Lebenswelt Berlin.

How long does the whole process take?

Step 1: Find each other. Once a vacant room or flat has been found, it can take a few hours, days or 1 to 2 weeks at most to find a suitable tenant and conduct talks with both parties. After all, we want to find the best match for both parties, especially if you will share a home.

Step 2: Application for cost assumption. This process can take anything from a few hours to a few weeks.

If the application is successful, the authorities will assume the rental costs. However, this does not apply to short-term periods of one day up to six months.

Refugees in the asylum procedure receive all their benefits from the Landesamt für Flüchtlingsangelegenheiten (the State Office for Refugee Affairs – LAF). First, a rental offer and several documents to be completed by the landlord and the tenant must submitted to the Lutheran Youth and Welfare Organisation (Evangelisches Jugend- und Fürsorgewerk – EJF), the partner of LAF, for examination. The entire process from submitting the rental offer until all formalities have been completed and all payments have been received can take up to two months. But in most cases the rent will be paid with retroactive effect from the date when the rental offer was submitted to EJF.

Recognised refugees receive their benefits from the competent Jobcenter. Unfortunately, the procedure differs from one Jobcenter to another. In some Jobcenters, you pull a number, submit your rental offer in person and may be lucky to receive your confirmation right away. In other Jobcenters, you will only be given a form to fill in and submit. You will then receive written confirmation that the Jobcenter is assuming the costs for your accommodation. Once you have received the confirmation from the Jobcenter, you can sign the tenancy agreement for the room or flat and submit it for cost assumption.
Important: If the new flat is located in a district (Bezirk) other the district in which you are registered, a new claim for benefits and a new application for assumption of costs of accommodation must be filed in the competent district! Always make copies of all the forms you submit to avoid extra work! You may need to submit your application for basic house furnishings (Antrag auf Erstausstattung) at the new Jobcenter.

Berlin_hilft provides a detailed description of the entire process.

 

 

 

Who pays for basic household needs such as furnishings?

The authorities assume the costs for basic household needs such as furnishings, pots and linen. Berlin_hilft provides a helpful list of how much is paid. These allowances are rather tightly calculated and sometimes paid out several weeks after moving in. If that is case, you may want to ask friends or acquaintances to help you out with furniture and household items. Some organisations offer free or very cheap furniture:

If you know of other organisations, please let us know!

Who can help me if problems arise?

Problems arise inevitably wherever people live together. It usually helps to address problems openly and find a solution together. We recommend that you seek assistance from one of our member initiatives when looking for accommodation. They will also provide support if linguistic, cultural or interpersonal issues arise. In addition to the support offered by the initiatives, NestWerk plans to train further volunteers to become counsellors for housing partnerships. Of course, as in any other flat or flatshare, you can always terminate a rental agreement if things don’t work out.

How do I offer a flat to a refugee?

If you have room or flat available for rent and would like to offer it to a refugee, you’ll make all of us happy: the refugees and those supporting them.

The first thing to do is to check the upper rent limits to make sure that the costs of the rent will be assumed by the authorities. If this is the case, the next step would be to contact one of the initiatives. You can pick any of the initiatives listed on our website. For example, you could base your choice on the geographic location or the approach of the relevant initiative. The initiative will then help you to plan all the subsequent steps.

If you don’t need the help of an initiative, you can also forward the ad for your flat or room directly to Home4Refugees or to EJF (only flats), the official partner of LAF (formerly LaGeSo).

Is it acceptable to pay a referral fee?

All the member initiatives of NestWerk offer their accommodation services free of charge. This is made possible through the support of volunteers and/or donations. In Berlin there are also professional real estate agents who charge a commission fee for the service of finding you a flat. The typical commission a letting agent charges in Berlin is equal to two months’ rent. Higher fees are pure exploitation and such offers should not be trusted.