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FAQs for international students

Finding accommodation: What you should know as a student from abroad

Prior to arriving – FAQs

You can begin looking for accommodation in Erlangen, Nuremberg and surrounding areas prior to arriving in Germany. The Central Office for International Affairs (RIA) at FAU has summarised the most important facts relating to finding accommodation from abroad, your stay here and to aspects of your departure.

No. Unlike in other countries, you will not automatically be given accommodation when you are admitted to study in Germany. Students have to find their own accommodation themselves.

No. There is no guarantee that you will get a room/flat in Erlangen at the start of your programme. To increase your chances of finding accommodation, it is important to be flexible in the choice of location. This means that you might also have to look at surrounding towns such as Forchheim, Herzogenaurach and Ansbach. Thanks to the well-organised and safe local transportation system (www.vgn.de) you can reach your place of study or work in Erlangen or Nuremberg quickly and cheaply. There are also tickets at reduced rates for students (semester ticket).

No. The university does not have any accommodation for students. The student accommodation offered by Student Services does not belong to the university. University staff can only provide you with recommendations.

Your own initiative is required as the market for privately-owned accommodation is overstretched in Erlangen in particular. You can start looking for accommodation prior to coming to Germany. Make use of the numerous addresses and information available on our websites. Finding accommodation can cost a lot of time and effort. As in many other German university cities, the accommodation demand exceeds the supply by far, which often leads to high rents. We recommend you inquire about several flats/rooms before coming to Germany and take advantage of a suitable offer without hesitation.

We have put together some tips on finding accommodation and offers available here:

Yes. We would strongly recommend that you have a number of applications running at the same time. If you accept an offer, you automatically enter into a rental agreement. Therefore, make sure that you only accept one offer in writing and send written rejections to all other offers.

Monthly rental for furnished accommodation can cost between 17 euros and 25 euros per square metre and per person, depending on the condition of the accommodation and its location. This can work out at up to 600 euros per month in total.

No. Unfortunately, we cannot give you any guarantee that you will find accommodation. Once we have received an application form that has been completed in full, we can only forward one offer to you – depending on availability on the private housing market.

The room/flat will be offered to another student and you will have to look for accommodation on your own.

I’ve arrived – what next?

Once you have arrived in Germany, you will need to open an account at a German bank.

If you have decided on a flat or room and the accommodation owner agrees, both parties sign a legally binding rental contract. An oral agreement or agreement via e-mail is legally binding; however, we recommend that you get a written agreement or a proper contract as quickly as possible. Withdrawal is only possible in writing and according to the agreed notice period in the contract. The rent and deposit are also determined in the rental contract. Make sure that the rent and any additional costs are precisely defined. All arrangements should be made in writing.

Please confirm the details of the contract, such as the move-in date, the notice period and any other agreements, one last time before signing it. Such contracts will often require you to take out liability insurance. While it is not mandatory, it is certainly recommended as it can cover any damage you cause to the accommodation.

Read the contract carefully before signing. Make sure you take good care of all documents (rental contract, handover certificate, invoices, receipts, correspondence with the owner).

You also need to register your address with the residents’ registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) at the local town hall within 14 days. Set up a standing order with your bank or a direct debit with your landlord to pay the rent.

Rent must always be paid at the start of the month (by the 3rd working day at the latest). By accepting the conditions of the contract, you are obligated to transfer the deposit and the first rent payment before moving in and possibly from abroad. You can pay your rent to the accommodation owner via direct debit (Lastschrift), which you must authorise in writing, or by regular bank transfer. A standing order with your bank (Dauerauftrag) can help you avoid problems due to belated rent payments.

Service charges consist of fixed costs (maintenance, cleaning,etc.) and utility costs that depend on consumption, such as heating, hot water, electricity and gas. Service charges are paid as a fixed monthly sum that is calculated using an average monthly level of consumption. Please make sure to discuss with your accommodation owner which utility costs are already included in the rent. We recommend you use heating, electricity, gas and water sparingly. Electricity is not usually included in the rent in student or private accommodation. Gas is also frequently not included in the contract. Usually you will have to pay a fixed sum every month or every other month (advance payment called Abschlag) via direct debit. The exact account is calculated once a year based on actual consumption. A new monthly charge for the following year is calculated based on this amount.

The deposit is between two and three months’ rent. The accommodation owner will give you their bank details so that you can transfer the money within the deadline. If the money is not transferred to them within the agreed deadline, the flat/room may be rented out to another prospective tenant instead.

Agree a date with your landlord when you can move into your accommodation. Take a copy of your passport and copies of the bank transactions for the rent and the deposit. On this date you will be given the keys and a copy of the house rules. Make sure that a handover report is made (sometimes it is a good idea to include photographs) that describes the condition of the room/flat. This is important so that you are not later charged for any damage that was already present at the time of handover.

If these services are not already included in your rental contract, you will need to set up an account with the appropriate provider.

If you have a place in student accommodation, please hand in your certificate of enrolment as soon as possible. For each semester that you stay in the accommodation, you must hand in your current certificate of enrolment without being requested to do so.

In Germany, there are special aspects of behaviour and order governing living in residential accommodation. Helpful information on aspects such as house rules, separating rubbish, cleanliness, energy and the environment in Germany can be found at http://www.gewobau-erlangen.de/de/service/download/index.html – http://www.gewobau-erlangen.de/en/services/downloads/index.html

If you notice any damage to your accommodation, you must notify the accommodation owner in writing without delay in order to give them the opportunity to arrange for repairs. If you caused the damage or did not report it immediately, you will be liable for the costs.

Before departing – FAQs

Usually three months prior to the date of termination of the agreement. When you want to leave your room/flat, you usually have to give your landlord three months’ written notice. Either hand this over to them in person or send it by registered mail with requested advice of delivery (Einschreiben mit Rückschein). If you do not hand in your notice to leave by the end of the month that is three months prior to the date you wish to leave, you will have to submit it by the end of the following month for departure three months later.

No. Agreements with a minimum term may have a period of notice of six to twelve months, or even three years. You can often find this information in the agreement under “…frühestens kündbar….” (earliest termination).

You are responsible for the payment of rent until the date of termination of the rental agreement.

Hand in your notice to terminate the rental agreement within the defined period (usually three months prior to leaving). To do this, send your landlord a letter of termination (see “How is the tenancy agreement terminated?”). Cancel all other contracts – such as internet, electricity, telephone, gas – taking into account the appropriate periods of notice. Periods of notice and methods of termination will need to be clarified with your providers directly. Clean the accommodation before you leave unless you have agreed some kind of final cleaning arrangements in advance with your landlord. If there has been any damage to the accommodation while you have been living there, ask the landlord to see whether you should repair the damage or whether the landlord will do this. If the latter is the case, the repair costs will be deducted from your deposit.

It is advisable to arrange two dates with your landlord: one appointment for the final accommodation inspection, and another about a month prior to moving out so that the landlord can have a look at the accommodation and check for any possible damage.

An accommodation inspection means that you agree a date with the landlord to hand back the accommodation with its inventory and key(s) when you leave. The landlord may also check the accommodation and its furnishings for damage. The condition of the room/flat will be compared with that recorded in the handover report prepared when you moved in.

This depends of the agreement you have made with your landlord. Usually you will have to hand back the accommodation in the same state in which you found it. Make sure that the room/flat is clean, free of any mould/mildew and is in a good state. This will help you avoid having to pay any additional charges! It is advisable to make an appointment with your landlord about a month before you are going to leave in which you agree how the room/flat is to be left.

When you move in, ask about how to sort out the accommodation inspection. Agree an appointment for the accommodation inspection when you hand in your notice to the landlord.

You have to hand in your notice to leave in writing. A simple e-mail is not enough. You have to send your notice by registered mail with requested advice of delivery (Einschreiben mit Rückschein), or just hand it over to your landlord personally. This has to be done within the period of notice (i.e. usually three months prior to leaving). If you do not hand in your notice on time you will have to wait longer and pay more before you can cancel your agreement.

Yes. If you have not left the room/flat in a good state, if it is dirty, there is damage, or if there are outstanding charges (for heating, for example), the landlord is entitled to deduct the corresponding costs from your deposit. If there are other outstanding payments (for example, for rent) or if the deposit does not cover the outstanding payments, the landlord will charge you for these.

The deposit will be returned to you within six months after the rental agreement has been terminated. Let your landlord know your bank account details for the return of the deposit.

No. It is not possible to cover the last rental payment from your deposit. The deposit is security for the landlord to cover any damage and serves to settle ancillary costs once you have left. It is usually reimbursed within six months of leaving the accommodation if the room/flat has been handed back without any problems.

This depends on the landlord and whether you move out within your period of notice. If you intend to leave and have not given the required period of notice, it is advisable to propose a new tenant to help you negotiate matters with your landlord. At the end of the day it is a matter for the landlord to decide who should move in.

Agree with your bank when you should terminate any standing orders. This should definitely be after the payment of the final month’s rent.

Close your German account as soon as you have received your deposit back. Ask your bank for details and take the relevant steps before you leave Germany.

Special tips and information for various target groups

A link to the accommodation application form will be included in your admissions letter. Please return the completed and signed form via e-mail to accommodation@fau.de by 31 May at the latest for the following winter semester or 30 November at the latest for the following summer semester.
  • You will be given general information about finding accommodation and help getting in contact with accommodation owners, planning and organising accommodation.
  • You will be placed on a waiting list. Each applicant will usually receive one offer of accommodation, depending on availability. If you receive an offer, you must decided whether or not you wish to accept it before the deadline stated. The final decision will then be made by the accommodation owner.

If you decline the offer, someone else will take your place and you will be removed from the waiting list. If you wish to accept the offer, please inform the Accommodation Service (accommodation@fau.de) and take note of the information and deadlines which you receive via e-mail.

Exchange students and students participating in exchange programmes must look for their own accommodation and submit applications for places in student accommodation themselves. The Central Office for International Affairs (RIA) will try to help you but cannot guarantee that you will be offered accommodation, as it does not own any accommodation and can only put you in contact with other providers. You may apply for a place in accommodation owned by Student Services and can also look for privately-owned accommodation.

Student Services Erlangen-Nürnberg runs its own student accommodation in Erlangen and Nuremberg. A set number of rooms are available for students participating in exchange programmes (e.g. Erasmus).

There are not enough rooms for all applicants. It is usually only possible for around one third of exchange students to be offered a place in student accommodation. Please also apply for rooms in private accommodation.

You will be informed of how to apply for a room in Student Services accommodation during the process of applying for a place to study at FAU.

FAU’s Welcome Centre is responsible for providing advice and information to international researchers and doctoral candidates.