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On this page you can find useful information concerning your new home in Tübingen - utilities bills, house rules etc. We suggest a careful reading!

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The Swabian Kehrwoche - a clean sweep

The so-called Kehrwoche, a formal assignment of cleaning duties for jointly used areas in a residential building, such as stairwells and sidewalks, actually exists in every house community all over Germany wherever there is no paid cleaning staff. What is typically Swabian is the high importance placed on everyone doing their part to keep things neat and clean. If your building has a Kehrwoche, please take it very seriously to avoid conflicts with your neighbors.

Mold Alert! German houses need a good airing out...

German houses are almost airtight, so don't underestimate the necessity of airing out properly, especially if you come from a warmer climate or if you are used to living in a wooden house that "breathes". Once the weather turns cooler, there is a real danger of mold development - and your landlord is within his rights to charge you with the expense of renovations if mold is caused by improper airing out!

The solid construction of German housing saves on heating costs, but can quickly lead to mold in your apartment, because moisture builds up during the day.

How to air out a German building properly? Especially in the autumn and winter, you should open all doors and windows all the way (not just tipping the windows, but opening them completely) for 5 to 15 minutes at least twice a day (Stoßlüften). You want to create a draft that can carry out the used, moist air. If you see condensation on your windows, it is a clear sign that you need to air out.

Once you are done, close things up again all the way. Don't leave windows tipped after airing out, or you will be paying to heat the Great Outdoors.

Remember: open wide twice a day, then close up tight!

Keeping your home cool and warm

German houses are well-insulated and have very reliable heating, usually central heating. Nevertheless, to keep warm in winter and to save on energy costs, the following is helpful: 

  • Turning up the radiator to somewhere between 2 and 3 (20–24°C) is usually sufficient to get your apartment to a pleasant temperature
  • Contrary to what even some Germans believe, your apartment will not get warm any faster if you turn up the heating to 5 – this just means the radiator will keep on heating until a higher end temperature, resulting in unnecessarily hot rooms and high energy costs if you forget to turn it down
  • When airing out, turn down the heating, and only turn it back on after closing your windows again
  • Keep the temperature at around 16-18°C at minimum even when you’re not home for a few hours or during night time; this will avoid the walls cooling down too much, resulting in more heating needed to get your home back to a comfortable temperature once you are back

Don’t forget to air regularly to avoid mold!

The downside of having well-insulated houses is that, once they heat up in summer, German houses will stay warm as well. Most German homes don’t have air conditioning, so to keep them cool even when it’s hot outside, try the following: 

  • Keep your windows closed during the hot day time
  • Close the shutters and/or curtains as tightly as possible – this blocks the heat from entering through the windows
  • Open your windows wide in the cooler evening, night and morning time so your apartment can cool down
House rules (Hausordnung)

The house rules help make sure that everyone gets along and should also be taken seriously.

House rules generally cover topics such as:

  • Noise pollution and quiet times: After 10 p.m. you should turn down any music to a low volume (Zimmerlautstärke) and generally keep things quiet out of consideration for your neighbors. Because multi-unit buildings are the norm in Germany, many more things are regulated by law to make living together easier, including certain general quiet hours: from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every day. On Sundays and public holidays, you should be especially considerate of your neighbors. This could apply to loud appliances or washing machines as well as showering at night. If you have guests, it is a good idea to close windows during quiet hours, and speak quietly when you are showing them out the door.

    As with most things, common sense and common courtesy are your best guides. It's always a good idea to talk with your neighbors ahead of time if you are planning a party.

    Your rent contract or house rules may specify additional quiet hours.

  • Security: The house rules may define times when main entrance should be locked, and the use of BBQs and open fires in the garden or on balconies is often limited.

  • Cleanliness: where to place your flower boxes on balconies and terraces, garbage cans and dumpsters.

  • Use of laundry rooms and drying areas: times when you are allowed to wash laundry and where you are allowed to hang up clothes to dry. Your house rules may also specify that you are not allowed to hang up laundry on your balcony or in your apartment to dry.

  • Pets: whether pets are allowed in your apartment and if so, which animals are permitted.

  • Parking rules for cars and bicycles.

  • Ventilation - see also "Mold Alert" above!

Public TV and radio fees (Rundfunkbeitrag)

Just like in other European countries, the state charges a fee for using radios, television and computers in order to finance the public broadcasting institutions. This contribution is charged per household, regardless of how many people are living there and how many broadcasting devices they own. The fee of 18.36 EUR per month covers all offers by radio, television and computers in a household. Even though the website contains some general information in English, the main contents are in German. You must register online via the information site (see the English-language guides below) or via a form which can be obtained at the Central Municipal Offices (Bürgeramt).

A number of step-by-step guides are available to help you with the online registration forms:

  • register with the GEZ (clicking on 'mich erstmalig für den Rundfunkbeitrag anmelden')

  • make registration changes

  • notify the GEZ that you are living in a shared flat and that a flatmate is already paying the GEZ fees for the household: open this page, choose 'ich zu einem anderen Beitragszahler ziehe'. Enter the data of the person paying already.

  • cancel your registration (choosing 'ich dauerhaft ins Ausland ziehe' if you leave Germany).

Please note that registration for the broadcasting fee is obligatory. The Central Municipal Offices forward your data to the GEZ. If you do not register, you must retroactively pay the fees from the date of your address registration with the City of Tübingen.

When moving away, please don't forget to deregister. See above for instructions about how to cancel your GEZ registration. If you leave Germany without cancelling your registration with the GEZ and cancelling your address registration at the Central Municipal Offices , your GEZ fees will continue to accrue, and if you ever come back to Germany you may find yourself faced with back fees and substantial penalties.

Used furniture

Besides the well-known online platforms you can find used furniture at one place in Tübingen named retour and another place in Rottenburg, called InTro Gebrauchtwarenkaufhaus. Both websites are in German only.

Both are related to charitable sponsors. While retour is related to the Protestant church, InTro is organized independently.

You can also find used furniture at (a website connecting neighborhoods), at and at Gebrauchtwarenbörse Tübingen.

There are also several Facebook groups aimed at selling or giving away used things in the Tübingen area; search for terms such as "Free your stuff" or "flea market" / "Flohmarkt" or "Gebrauchtmöbel" + Tübingen.

Utilities / auxiliary costs

Besides your monthly rent you may be charged for diverse additional costs. In Germany, you differentiate between utilities costs and auxiliary costs. Even if you sign a rental contract with a rent including heating (Warmmiete) this does not necessarily mean that you will not have any other costs. Please have a close look at your rent contract and ask your landlord if you are in doubt. Please also check the section "Your Rent Contract" on this website.

Utilities costs usually include:

  • warm water (Warmwasser)

  • heating (Heizung)

  • fresh water, tap water (Frischwasser)

  • electricity (Strom)

The easiest way to bill these costs is by use, so there should be meters in your apartment or building. If utilities do not provide meters there are rules for how to legally calculate the use according to use and living space.

Other auxiliary costs can be:

  • house insurance (Versicherung)

  • land tax (Grundsteuer)

  • garbage (Müllgebühren)

  • rain water (Niederschlagswasser)

  • chimney sweep (Schornsteinfeger)

  • gardener (Gartenarbeiten)

  • cleaning of hall/staircase (Reinigungsdienst)

  • winter service (Winterdienst)

  • electricity for common areas such as lights in the hall/staircase (Allgemeinstrom)

  • etc.

They are usually calculated by the number of people living in a household and/or by living area.

If your landlord charges you for these, an auxiliary cost statement must be provided one year after any accounting period the latest. Then you can take twelve more months to lodge objections. The limitation period is three years.

Mail / post
  • Don't forget to put your (family) name on your mailbox! If you are unable to do this yourself, ask your landlord for help. Your mail will not be delivered if your name is not posted on the mailbox and on the letters, you're receiving.

  • In Germany, you can use a number of different mail delivery companies. The most common is the German postal system Deutsche Post for letters and DHL for parcels. There are a number of branch offices of the Deutsche Post in Tübingen (website in German only).

  • Please use search engines to find private postal delivery companies (such as s-mail (for regional mail, German website only), and for packages Hermes (German website only), and UPS).

  • Forwarding orders (Nachsendeantrag):

    If you move to a different apartment, you should have your mail forwarded to your new address. This can be a little bit tricky because of the various mail companies. You have two options: if you book the forwarding service from Deutsche Post (website in German only) you will cover approx. 80 % of your mail that needs to be forwarded. If you regularly receive mail from private mail delivery companies you will have to order another forwarding service. To find the best for you please search the German word "Nachsendeantrag" in a search engine. Unfortunately, you will seldom find an English website for this service.

Repairs and repairmen
  • When you need a repairman in Germany you will have to make an appointment in advance. Depending on his availability may take up to several days until you can fix the date. German repairmen have fixed service hours. Many do not work on Saturdays or Sundays.

  • Also, in August many repairmen in Germany close their businesses for summer vacation. So if you are considering a bigger project, you are well advised to not plan it in your summer holidays.

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