Housing rules for Ukrainian refugees in Germany

Housing rules for Ukrainian refugees in Germany

Summary

Many German flat owners and main tenants consider renting apartments, subleasing rooms, or offering free accommodations to Ukrainian refugees.

German tenants need approval from their landlord for subleasing or free accommodation if Ukrainian refugees stay longer than 6-8 weeks in the property. Landlords need to observe minimum requirements for accommodation following the law on misappropriation, building regulations, and health and general safety law.

The following information provides a general overview of the German requirements for renting apartments, subleasing rooms, or offering free accommodations to Ukrainian refugees but cannot replace legal advice and regionally specific requirements. We advise consulting professional lawyers or specialized associations before renting or subletting property to Ukrainian refugees.

How long can Ukrainian refugees stay as visitors without landlord approval?

Anyone who lives for rent may also take refugees into their rented apartments as tenants can decide for themselves whether and when they receive visitors if the visit last less than 6-8 weeks (in exemptions up to 3 months).

After that period the tenant needs the approval of their landlord. Just to prevent misunderstandings and to strengthen the basis of trust with the landlord it is better to inform the landlord at the very beginning of the plan to provide housing for Ukrainian refugees.

When can a landlord refuse permission?

Unlike spouses, life partners, children, or parents, anyone who wishes to house Ukrainians permanently or for an extended period of time needs the landlord’s permission.

There is no specific form required for the permit application but it is recommended to send the request in written form.

In such cases, the landlord can only refuse permission if the subtenant has a compelling reason for it, such as permanently overcrowded living quarters. The landlord cannot refuse the permission for the reason of nationality, gender, or beliefs of the subleasing tenants.

Rights of the landlord in the event of a breach of the rules by the tenant

It can be problematic if tenants take in refugees for a longer period of time without the landlord’s consent. If tenants do not end the sublease as requested, landlords can terminate the lease without notice.

The termination of the rental contract without notice is unjustified if the tenant has simply forgotten to obtain permission. Also, the wrongful refusal of a landlord for subletting does not allow the termination of the lease without notice.

Owners must not overcrowd an apartment

It is much easier for owners of living spaces to accept refugees since they do not have to seek permission.

The conditions for overcrowding are different by federal state in Germany.

Berlin requires a minimum of 9m² per adult and 6m² per child up to 6 years old.

Hessen does not differ between adults and children and requires a minimum of 9m².

Bremen and North Rhine-Westphalia require a minimum of 9m² per adult and 6m² per child up to 6 years old but use a special calculation method for the calculation of the total size of the property.

Bavaria finally has no specific rules regarding overcrowding but instead, the local and regional administration uses the general public law powers from the law on misappropriation, building regulations, and health or general safety law.

Landlords must also observe other minimum requirements for accommodation following the law on misappropriation, building regulations, and health or general safety law. As a general rule, refugees should live in a humane manner – regardless of whether the offer is a complete apartment or part of the apartment.

Local government as lease partner

Owners and tenants can list their property also directly to the local municipal administration (typically the social welfare office of the district or city) for the use of refugees. With this approach, the public sector is the rental contract partner, not the refugees themselves.

It is necessary to have official permission to live in the appropriate place of residence and to move into private housing as a tenant. 

In the event that the refugee does not have sufficient income, the social welfare office can pay their rent. However, the authorities have a maximum apartment size and price per person that is set by them.

Those limitations are different by federal state, region, and city. 

Here is an example for Hamburg based on the 2021 rental cost statistical review.

Number of Household Members
Limitation
1 person
543.00 Euro
2 persons
659.40 Euro
3 persons
780.00 Euro
4 persons
938.15 Euro
5 persons
1.272.60 Euro
6 persons
1.443.60 Euro
for every additional person
180.45 Euro

It is important to note that the above values are for complete flat rentals. Maximum allowances for single rooms are parts of flats are lower.

The disadvantage of subletting or renting property directly to the authorities is the loss of control over whom the authorities will select to live in the property.

Rent for housing refugees

Refugees who do not have access to private accommodation will receive temporary housing in emergency camps at arrival. The authorities will review the availability of free housing options to move the refugees to longer-term accommodations. 

It is important to understand that even though Ukrainian refugees have the right to stay in Germany they do NOT have the right to choose where they finally will settle if they cannot show their own private housing solution.

The municipality bears the costs of accommodating refugees if the refugee has no own income. The refugee has the right to find their own housing options in which case the authorities will subsidize housing costs within regional defined limitations.

IMPORTANT: We recommend landlords / main tenants contact the local job center to learn about subsidizing rules for Ukrainian refugees.

Anyone who offers living space for refugees directly should agree on a rental contract with the refugee even if the housing is considered free. 

The rental contract should clarify not only the rental cost but also the treatment of ancillary costs of living. Higher costs, especially for heating, electricity, and water, have to be taken into account also to protect the interest of other household members.

Who is liable for damage to the rented property?

Tenants are liable for the breach of contract by all persons who have taken them into their homes.

The liability does not depend on how long the people stay or whether they pay for the accommodation or not.

A formal rental contract, house rules, and in the case of furniture properties inventory transfer protocol incl. evidence photos are highly recommended to prevent later misunderstandings.

Rental Contract – German

Rental Contract – Ukrainian

​Housing Rules – German

​Housing Rules – Ukrainian​

Legally binding are the German rental contract and housing rules. The Ukrainian versions are for information only.

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