Responsibilities in the apartment

As a tenant of a house or apartment, there are several obligations to be aware of. When you move into a new house or apartment, you must register the change of address at the ‘Einwohnermeldeamt’ (registration office – content only available in German). Your new address will be recorded and changed in the system.
You must also register at the ‘Gebühreneinzugszentrale’ (licence fee collection centre – content only available in German). The GEZ collects fees for all radio receivers, which in turn finance the public service broadcasters in Germany. The GEZ is paid per household (independent of the number of residents) and is deducted from your account either every three months or annually. Currently, the fee stands at € 17.98 per month (as of July 2014). Don’t forget to register your change of address with the GEZ if you move house, or to deregister if you return to your home country!

Noise control

Noise control is strictly regulated in Germany. Noise of any type above room volume is regarded as a disruption of the peace. Furthermore, it is prohibited to make too much noise between 1pm and 3pm, as well as between 10pm and 6am, and at night time: this applies all day on Sundays and public holidays. Noisy tasks, such as mowing the lawn, are not permitted on these ‘quiet days’.
If you have to carry out a certain task on a Sunday, for example, or you are planning a party, which will go on longer than 10pm, you must let you neighbour know. Neighbours are generally very tolerant of these kind of one-off events.
However, everybody is entitled to notify the police if peace and quiet is disrupted on ‘quiet days’. To avoid an argument, try to inform your neighbour directly first.

Heating and ventilation

If the heating is on in winter in a room with no open windows, it can quickly lead to damp ceilings and walls, and in some circumstances, cause mould to form. Above all, mould occurs if damp washing is dried indoors and the room is not ventilated regularly. Please make sure (especially in winter) that you air your home regularly in order to reduce the moisture in the rooms.

Clearing and gritting duty

When there is snow on the ground in Germany, tenants and homeowners are obliged to clear and grit the area in front of their front doors and paths.
If there are several households living in one building, a winter service is often brought in to take over the clearing and gritting. This information can generally be found in the rental contract. If this is not the case, ask your landlord.
For homeowners, the rule of thumb is that the pavement should be cleared on workdays from 7am to 10pm. On Sundays and public holidays, they have to be cleared from 8am until 10pm. The area surrounding the property must also be cleared. The path must have a clear width of 1.5m. If it is icy, you also have to grit the area with sand so as to avoid any accidents (you can pick up sand from almost all DIY stores). It is forbidden in Germany to grit with salt as this may find its way into the groundwater.