The glossary: how to rent an apartment in Berlin

Do you want to move to Berlin and find a cozy place in a beautiful area? Or maybe you are the owner and want to rent your property? In any case, you need to know some basic technical terms of the housing market to navigate among varied assortment of furnished and unfurnished apartments in Berlin. The following glossary should help you to enlarge your vocabulary so that you feel more confident when looking for a new home in Berlin.

The key terms to know while searching for a flat are:


  • Kaltmiete – cold rent or basic rent without heating and other utilities
  • Warmmiete – warm rent or final rent including heating and utility costs
  • Nebenkosten – utility costs
  • Betriebskosten – operating costs / maintenance costs
  • Gesamtmiete – total rent, or the base monthly rent plus additional costs
  • Kaution – rental security deposit (not more than 3 months of rent)

Type of housing

  • Möbliert – furnished
  • Saniert / renoviert – renovated, updated
  • Altbau – historical building (built between1890-1920)
  • Neubau – new building (built from 2000)
  • Vorderhaus – front building
  • Hinterhaus – rear building
  • Hinterhof – backyard
  • Seitenflügel – side wing
  • Erdgeschoss – ground floor
  • Dachgeschoss – attic floor
  • Souterrain – semi-basement
  • Loftwohnung – loft apartment, a warehouse or industrial space converted into an apartment
  • Maisonette oder Galeriewohnung – duplex apartment
  • Penthouse – apartment on the top floor of a tall building, typically luxuriously fitted and offering fine views usually comes with balcony or terrace
  • Eigentumswohnung – owner-owned apartment
  • Mietwohnung – rented apartment
  • Wohnen auf Zeit – temporary letting

The apartment

  • Wohnfläche –  living area
  • Zimmer – rooms (living and bedroom are counted as rooms, kitchen and bathroom are not considered)
  • Einbauküche (EBK) – fitted or built-in kitchen
  • Aufzug – elevator
  • Schlafzimmer – bedroom
  • Badezimmer – bathroom
  • Wohnzimmer – living room
  • Abstellraum – storage room
  • Wohngemeinschaft (WG) – shared apartment
  • Zentralheizung – central heating
  • Etagenheizung – individual apartment heating
  • Fußbodenheizung – floor heating
  • Balkon / Terrasse –  balcony/terrace
  • Garten – garden

Documents you need

  • Personalausweis – passport 
  • Einkommensnachweis – proof of income, provides information about the financial position of a person
  • Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung – a signed document from the last landlord confirming that the tenant has paid the rent faithfully and on time during the period of staying
  • Mietvertrag – rental agreement
  • Sondereigentumsvertrag (SEV Vertrag) – special ownership contract
  • Wohnungsübergabeprotokoll – handover protocol in addition to the rental agreement, where you confirm the condition of the apartment when you are moving in
  • Hausordnung  ­– general house rules, including information about regular maintenance of an apartment

Some other useful terms

  • Eigentümer – owner
  • Mieter – tenant
  • Kiez – neighborhood

   Now you are ready to dive into the property market. Knowing these important keywords will allow you to rent your apartment as well as to find a nice place for yourself in Berlin. However, you should know that a professional apartment management agency, e.g. Hope Apartments, will allow you to forget about unnecessary trouble.

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