The first days in Aachen can be very stressful, especially if you have not found a flat yet and are anxious as to whether or not you will find a place to stay at all. Nonetheless, you should stay optimistic but astute and do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Most importantly, you should never sign a contract or pay any money for a flat that you have not personally visited and inspected. Look out for mold – especially in the bathroom and around windows.
Make it your principle never to sign contracts immediately, especially if someone is urging you to do so. Ask for a day to think about it and use this period to read the contract carefully, looking up unknown words in a dictionary and reading through it with a German friend, colleague, or you buddy. There are really beautiful flats and good offers out there, but just like in any other country there are also run down, moldy places without central heating which people try to hire to desperate and broke Erasmus Students by publishing outdated and old photos.
Do not give up hope, finding a flat is only a matter of time and persistence. It is also possible to live in a Hostel until you can find proper accommodation.
Types of "Wohnungen"
- Wohngemeinschaften: a shared apartment
- Zwischenmiete: sublease
- Studentenwohnheim: German student dorm
There are lots of similar websites to www.wg-gesucht.de, for example www.studenten-wg.de/, www.easywg.de/, www.wohngemeinschaft.de/, www.wgfinden.de/ and www.wg-suche.de . In my experience none of them has as many announcements available as wg-gesucht.de, but on the other hand this also means having fewer competitors.
If you want to search for empty flats, houses, or single room apartments you can also use the websites mentioned above. However, there are different sites that put the focus on professionally published offers.
On http://www.immobilienscout24.de/wohnen/mietwohnungen.html you will find many announcements from estate agents. This website is the marked leader, but there are many alternatives available: http://www.alternative-zu.de/q/Immobilienscout+24
A viewing with an estate agent is far less stressful than a viewing in a WG with future flatmates. You do not necessarily need to attract his attention or prove your sense of humor, basically all you need to do is make an orderly, decent impression and prove that you are able and willing to pay the rent regularly and punctually.
Elternbuergschaft and Legal procedures
Very many landlords and even WGs expect you to hand in a so called “Elternbürgschaft”. This means that your mother or father act as a guarantor for your rent. He or she is obliged to pay for your rent or any damage you cause to the flat in case you are unable or not willing to pay it yourself. This procedure is very common in Germany, because there is a strong legal protection of tenants and it is very difficult for flat owners to throw tenants out of the flat, even if they do not pay the rent. You can use a form from the internet for example this one http://studays.de/de/download/45. Also check out the other pages of the website studays.de/de/wohnen/ratgeber-miete. Information about finding a flat and about legal questions connected to renting and living in a rented flat.
If you have legal proceedings with your landlord or if you need any other kind of support, you should immediately get help from the AStA, our student union. They have very well educated specialists for rent law and it won’t cost you a penny. https://www.asta.rwth-aachen.de/de/wohnen
Many apartment ads contain abbreviations.