In most cases, the process of renting an apartment in Germany differs from renting an apartment in other countries like, for instance, the US. One of the main differences is that mostly apartments are being owned by private owners instead of being owned and managed by an apartment community. Even though most apartment buildings have a maintenance person (German: Hausmeister), in most cases there are no leasing offices providing a central contact point to the landlord. There are several different ways to find apartments.
The most common place to look for apartments or roommates in the Region Karlsruhe, are the local apartment listings. The local advertising journal Sperrmüll is published twice a week and offers a large variety of apartment listings. Usually, those listings consist of a short description, the rent and the contact information, normally a phone number. Another good place to look for apartments is the Sperrmülls website . The listings are available online for free, but they will charge a small fee if you also want to see the contact information.
There are also other publications with apartment listings, for example newspapers like the BNN or local advertising magazines like the Boulevard Baden, the Der Kurier, the Eukalyptus and the Karlsruher Anzeiger.
Other places to find apartments or - in that case more likely - roommates, are the bulletin boards at the Universität Karlsruhe or any of the other schools or universities. Also, the newsgroup ka.markt.misc offers apartment listings.
Students can rent dorm rooms or find roommates at the Studentenwerk Karlsruhe. They also offer free apartment listings and advertisings for Students.
Another way to find apartments, is to use a Realtors service. Their probably biggest advantage is that they will offer only apartments that meet your wishes and expectations, which can save time and money on finding the perfect apartment. On the downside, they will charge a fee for their services, which the tenant has to pay for. Those fees can vary, usually it will amount to a total of the monthly rent times 2 plus tax (Mehrwertsteuer).
Things to know
- Most people do speak english as a second language. Not all people are familiar with business english though, so if you don't speak german and if you want to avoid confusion about contract terms, you might want to bring a friend who can fluently speak both languages to translate the conversation.
- Reading through apartment listings sometimes can be confusing. Most of the times you will find lots of abbreviations and special terms. A list of the most common abbreviations used in apartment listings, can be found at the Quoka Website 
- It is common to pay a deposit when renting an apartment. The deposit usually equals the amount of 2 or 3 times the monthly rent. Make sure to negotiate with your landlord how to pay that deposit. Usually, the deposit is due when signing the contract. It is recommended to place the money in a savings account under both your and the landlords name. Make sure one can only withdraw money from the account if both account holders sign the withdrawal.
- Rent is commonly paid through a standing order from your bank account or through automatic withdrawal from your landlord. Cash payments or making payments through check or credit cards is usually not possible.
- Most of the times, lease agreements last a year and automatically renew every 12 months. Depending on your contract, the cancellation period is between 3 and 12 months.