Apartment Search Ad in Germany - how you make a landlord offer you a good apartment

Best practise if you're new in Germany: passive apartment search

Post your apartment search ad on multiple platforms. In this article you will learn how to optimize this process

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The advantages of a search ad for people with non-German names like mine (Jaroslav Plotnikov) as well as my own story - I described in this article.

Since this article belongs to pure how-to materials, I recommend to study it in connection with the process of a want ad. You can apply the tips immediately.

Choose one or post it on several popular real estate portals in Germany: Meinestadt, WG-Gesucht, Ebay-Kleinanzeigen etc.

Modules of your ad

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Since my blog is primarily addressed to IT professionals, I am giving here an imaginary example that you were a programmer. But also other, especially academic professions, can make a solid impression as soon as you clarify that you have an employment contract (ideally "open ended", i.e. permanent one).

When your future landlord looks at the "Appartment Search" category, he will see a list of ads or, more precisely, listed ad titles. She will scroll down this list and primarly open ads with strong titles.

So, when you prepare the ad title, it is essential to find the "golden middle": on the one hand, the title must be as short as possible, on the other hand, the title must contain the relevant information: Who, What, When and How much is your budget.

I admit, it is not easy to fit all this information into one snappy, eye-catching headline. Nevertheless, let's try.

Ad title: Programmierer sucht 1-2 Zi.Wo ab 1.März 2022 (um €950 warm).
Programmer is looking for 1-2 room flat from March 1, 2022 (around €950 warm).


Who is searching: a programmer. Immediately some stereotipes appear in landlord's head: Programmer is a quiet person, a high earner. This may not correspond to the truth at all, but the most people use to think in stereotype frames.


The second question in a landlord's head - what for appartment this interesting tenant is searching to rent? Is it anything like a flat whch I am renting? What exactly is he looking for? If the size of the apartment he is looking for, matches the size of my apartment for rent?


When exactly does this tenant need the new apartment? Giving the date you would like to move into a new flat, you answer his second question ("When?").

How much is your budget

Do not worry to loose some of offers if you set your budget for the rent.

Giving your budget you will just exclude the properties which rent price differs too much from your budget. If a landlord finds your ad interesting, he will still contact you, even if his property is a bit more expensive, say €1200 monthly. In case this higher price is beyond your budget, you still have half won. If your communication leaves a good impression (politeness, punctuality, etc.), the landlord may recommend you to one of his colleagues. Often apartment owners have several apartments. If someone from an apartment management company contacts you, chances are even greater that they have many properties to rent.

If you still want to shorten your title, you can remove the price from the elements mentioned:

Shortened version: Programmierer sucht 1-2 Zi.Wo ab 01.03.2022
Programmer is looking for 1-2 room flat from March 1, 2022.

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Basically, it's exactly the same as with the ad title - finding the "golden middle". Because too little information makes your ad too dry, boring, impersonal. Too much information won't be read untill the end. Most likely it won't be read at all.

If you don't want to use my sample text, but write your own, you should think about the following things. Being a foreigner you are too "foreign", too "exotic" for the landlord. You came from a different culture, probably you do not speak German or do not speak it good enough. Your foreign-sounding name brings the landlord a choice between fear or curiosity.

If the fear wins, you have lost. The apartment will be given to another person who looks more trustworthy. Nothing more can be done here.

If you have awakened curiosity, you have not yet won. Your task is to eliminate his remaining fears step by step. This way you will receive his trust and the keys to the apartment.

You are from another culture and the landlord wants to know something more about you. And you should deliver it. Your goal is to demonstrate that despite all cultural differences you are a reasonable, decent person. For that show the landlord you on the pictures (see below).


Living space - how much does a person need (by German law)

In Germany, depending on the federal state, there are different regulations that prescribe the minimum living space. The general name for these legal regulations is the Wohnungsaufsichtsgesetz.

Here is the paragraph 1 of the Wohnungsaufsichtsgesetz of the Federal State of Berlin:

§ 7 Belegung
(1) Wohnungen dürfen nur überlassen oder benutzt werden, wenn für jede Person eine Wohnfläche von mindestens 9 qm, für jedes Kind bis zu sechs Jahren eine Wohnfläche von mindestens 6 qm vorhanden ist.
EN: § 7 Space
(1) Housing may only be let or used if there is a living space of at least 9 square meters for each person and a living space of at least 6 square meters for each child up to six years of age.*

However, my experience shows that you are on the safe side if you count 12 sqm per person.


Deadlines - move-in and termination (Kündigung)

I assume that you want to look decent in the eyes of landlords. It is in your interest, because you want her to prefer you to Germans, "rich foreigners" (from Switzerland, USA, Norway, etc.) and other foreigners who speak good German. Looking serious is not difficult if you know some "game rules" and follow them.

There are two things you should be aware of: your move-in date and the termination period.

What I do not recommend: to write in your ad ab sofort (needing flat "right away"). In Germany it makes a better impression if you pretend to be a deliberate person who likes to plan carefully and move forward without hectic. Of course, sometimes in life there are unforeseen situations. Try to avoid them as far as you can.

Tip: if possible, declare your desired move-in date 4-8 weeks in advance


Deposit (Kaution**)

You probably already know what the deposit is - a guarantee for landlord that he has funds available in case you cause damage. The amount of the deposit corresponds to two "cold" rents. You will get the deposit back as soon as you move out of the apartment. However, in some cases it may take several months. Landlords explain this delay by the fact that the damage may be visible only after some time.

Regarding the deposit, the following questions are important:

  • Do I have to pay the deposit for particular apartment?
  • When will I get my deposit back?
  • How can I reduce the risk that my deposit will not be returned (in full)?

Do I have to pay the deposit for particular apartment?

In most cases, the deposit is required. There is nothing you can do about it. Accept this fact and include the deposit amount in your budget.

I personally always asking if the deposit necessary. But almost always the answer is "yes, it is".

Good news: if you don't have the full deposit amount, most landlords were agree that you pay it in rates within 2-3 months (in 2-3 rates).

When will I get my deposit back?

It is relatively rare to have problems with the return of the deposit. But if you want to be sure that this money will be back on your account soon, suggest the terms of repayment to be included in the lease agreement. For example, "If no damage is found, the deposit must be returned within one month (maximum 6!).

How can I reduce the risk that my deposit will not be returned?

To reduce the risk, I recommend to take out a so-called Haftpflichtversicherung**, short: HPV (liability insurance).This protects you (and your family members) against property damage. It costs €30-60 per year. I think it is reasonable insurance for affordable price, because it covers the damage up to a few million euros. In case something immovable in the apartment is broken due to your fault, they will pay.

Examples of damage, covered by liability insurance: a window or the floor or the expensive house key is lost, your washing machine is broken - your apartment is full of water and so on...


Photos and your social media profile

Since I personally am not a big fan of social networks, instead of Instagram or Facebook, I prefer to add to my want ad with a certain selection of my pictures. If I have decided to ask one of my friends about the apartment for me, I just send the link of my want ad.

The logic is simple: imagine it you are an elderly man or woman who owns or manages the property. Does she want to see your wild parties and crazy things? No. She wants to see a "normal" decent person - who has studied diligently, works hard and is a reasonable person and serious tenant in all views.

You can be an eccentric person, trying every imaginable thing in life and loving the wildest parties. But... remember your goal now: get a good apartment at a reasonable price, right?

Maybe my photos selection will inspire you?

Here are my own pictures that helped me find an apartment a long time ago.

Note: I have uploaded only pictures without any captions. The notes next to the pictures are just my explanations for you.

Screenshot 2: On the picture I am well recognizable. At the same time it is not a boring passport photo.
Screenshot 3: This is where I get my university diploma. If you are an graduate, why not show this to the landlord?
Screenshot 4: In my ad text it says that I like to work at home. The picture is to illustrate this claim.
Screenshot 5: Another diploma (I became a diving instructor).
Screenshot 6: Diving in Australia. The hidden message for the landlord: I'm not a lazy person, I don't hang around. Instead, I study diligently, work hard, and spend my free time in travel and sports activities. No drug scene, punk concerts and other questionable activities.
Screenshot 7: Another picture that represents me well and which I like.

Conclusion: as I have already indicated, your pictures have a one and only purpose: to present an expression of decency. Landlord must see that I am educated, hardworking and wealthy person. In short: trustworthy tenant.


Your contact details

In most cases the landlord sends a message via the real estate website where your ad is published.

Alternative #1: Email

I recommend you to set up an email address in a "German way".

Alternative #2: a German phone number

If possible, enter a German phone number - it highly increases the chances that you will be contacted.

If the German number belongs to one of your friends, write in brackets "please text, I'll call you back" or "evtually answering machine".


Mob.: 0152 - 03072498 (bitte SMS, ich rufe später zurück)
Festnetz: 030 - 123456789 (evtl. AB)

You can also to use our service - we in Migwork will publish your wanted ad and include our German phone numbers. We can also answer landlord's calls directly. So you will get your apartment faster.

Feel free to click the button "Hire MIGWORK" below and send us a non-binding request.

* - translated via Deepl translator;
** - this and more terms and abbreviations written in italic you will find translated and explained in the GLOSSARY.

Let the landlord offer you the apartment – Experience of a foreigner in finding accommodation in Berlin – PART 1
Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung §19 - landlord's confirmation

14.06.21 ©️ Jaroslav Plotnikov (All articles)