Utilities

General information

When it comes to renting an apartment, the terminology used is different from one country and one rental market to the next. To help you make sense of the terms used and know which costs to expect in addition to your rent, our Welcome Guide explains the essentials.

What may seem complicated at first, is not as impenetrable as it may seem: Basically your monthly rent is made up of some general, rather fixed costs (e.g. the rent = landlord’s income, the maintainance/running costs for commonly used parts of the building such as the lift, costs of waste disposal, building and property tax, building insurance, smoke detectors, etc.) and a pre-payment for some variable costs, which depend at least in part on each tenant’s individual usage (such as the cost of heating and water).

It is important to note that, maybe contrary to intuition, certain utilities and amenities are not included in your rent and pre-payments: e.g.

  • electricity,
  • internet access,
  • a landline phone
  • cable TV
  • the public broadcasting fee

…are all generally not part of your rent. This means, they must be registered, contracted, paid and also cancelled before moving out(!) separately by each tenant/household.

Broadcasting Fee

  • It is mandatory household charge, which serves to fund the public radio, TV and online broadcasting services. It is currently €17.50 per month per household.
  • The fee is a household charge. That means, one household member (representing the household) has to pay. There are no exemptions or discounts for PhD students or scholarship holders. The fee is considered a part of everyone’s regular living expense in Germany.If you live in furnished short-term accommodation (e.g. a holiday apartment, hotel), find out whether your landlord or building administration already cover the fee (generally they do not) and under which fee account number. If you sublease a room or apartment, ask the person whom you have subleased from, whether they already cover the fee and under which fee account number. Members of a shared apartment usually split the cost of the fee between them, but only one member of the household (one flatmate) registers and pays. If you move into a shared apartment, find out who of your flatmates is the registered, paying household member and ask their fee account number. Similarly, if you cohabit with your spouse or partner (or family), only one of you has to register and pay.Usually the first person in a household to receive the agency’s letter (you, your spouse, partner or a flatmate) registers and becomes the paying household member – upon receiving the fee account number, the non-paying members (e.g. you, your spouse, partner or other flatmates) inform the agency that their fee is already being collected under the registered person’s fee account number.
  • Any change of address must be reported to the local Registration Office and it makes sense to report it to the ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragsservice agency, too (as well as to any other institutions that you occasionally have correspondence, contracts or pay relationships with). If moving your household to a new address in Dresden or Germany, report the change at the local Registration Office. The agency will find you again at your new German address, where you then re-register for the broadcasting fee with your existing fee account number.