Starting Out

What does the DESY Housing Service do?

The DESY Housing Service is here to help members of the DESY campus community to find off-campus, rented accommodation for the duration of their stay in Hamburg. The service we provide is free for all users.

Who is the DESY Housing Service for?

The DESY Housing assists all members of the DESY campus and XFEL community, whether guest scientists or DESY employee, in the search for long term ( more than 4 weeks ) off-campus housing. For any stays shorter than four weeks, guests can stay in the DESY Hostel.

Where will I stay for the first few days at DESY?

.For new members of DESY (coming from Germany and abroad), a reservation is usually made to stay on-campus at the DESY Hostel for a maximum of two weeks. The DESY Hostel provides both single and double rooms. Extra beds for children may be reserved as well. Please contact the Hostel Team directly if you have any special requirements regarding your Hostel booking.

Unless you give the Hostel Team a specific date for your departure from the DESY Hostel, your reservation will be for two weeks. However, this reservation is not fixed, and you will be able to check out of the Hostel on any day of the week, as soon as you find permanent accommodation. You will only be charged for the nights you stayed in the Hostel.

Please note: you do not need to submit a Hostel Registration Form if you have already submitted a Housing Application Form. If you do this, it will result in a double booking under your name, so please refrain from doing so.

Searching for accommodation

How do I find accommodation?

Finding accommodation through the DESY Housing Service is quick and easy if you follow the steps outlined on The Process page of our website. We use your request to match you with the best possible accommodation from the DESY Housing database.

What kind of accommodation is available for me to rent?

There are three options for housing when renting through the DESY Housing Service: rent your own apartment or house, rent a room in a house with the landlord, or rent a room in a house to share with with housemates.
Option 1: Rent your own apartment/house
The most common rental units in Hamburg are studio (one room), one-bedroom (two rooms) and two-bedroom (three rooms) units in apartment buildings or in houses divided into apartments. Living in your own private apartment or house is likely to be your most expensive option. Monthly rent in Hamburg is between €550 and €750 for studios, €700-€850 for one-bedroom, and €800-€1200 for two-bedroom apartments. Please note that if you want to rent an apartment for you and your family, you need to make sure your apartment is big enough. By law it is required that your apartment provides a minimum of 12m2 per resident over 6 years old and a minimum of 10m2 per resident under 6.

Option 2: Rent a room in a shared apartment/house (living with landlord)
Renting a room in a shared apartment or house is likely to be your most economical option. Most rooms are available for single occupancy with rents ranging from €350-€500 per month.

When living with the landlord of the property, you will have your own private bedroom, but the main entrance, bathroom, kitchen and living areas will be shared with the landlord. In some cases, however, you will not have access to cooking facilities. It is important that you understand and agree with any house rules, regarding playing music, smoking and parties, etc. before making a commitment.
Option 3: Rent a room in a shared apartment/house (living with housemates)
Renting a room in a shared apartment or house is likely to be your most economical option. Most rooms are available for single occupancy with rents ranging from €350-€500 per month.

When sharing with housemates, you will have your own private bedroom, but the main entrance, bathroom, kitchen and living areas will be shared with the other residents. You can choose to move into an apartment or a house where other residents have lived for a while (a 'WG'), or you can search for a place to share exclusively with a group of friends. You will be expected to contribute to shared responsibilities such as cleaning, and pay towards expenses for utilities. It is important that you understand and agree with any house rules, regarding playing music, smoking and parties, etc. before making a commitment.

In this type of accommodation it is important to find out the procedure for when one person wants to move out. Sometimes it is the residents’ responsibility to replace any members of the household who leave before the others, but sometimes this responsibility lies with the landlord, so it is important to check this before signing the contract.

What is a 'WG'?

WG is an abbreviation of the German 'Wohngemeinschaft', which means shared accommodation.

The setup of WGs can vary. In some cases, each tenant will have their own bedroom but the kitchen, bathroom and any living rooms will be shared with the other tenants. But in other cases, the apartment/house will be divided into mini-apartments for each tenant, with a separate kitchen, bathroom and living room to share.

The tenants of a WG may or may not know each other, and some may have lived in the accommodation for a while.

How do I decide on which area to live in?

Please refer to our Area Guide for information on the different areas in which we provide accommodation.
Alternatively, you can visit the official Hamburg city website to see more detailed information about each area. Please note that some of the information on these pages is in German only.

What happens after my Housing Application Form has been submitted?

Your Housing Application Form will be sent to us by email after you have submitted it. Soon afterwards, you will receive a confirmation email stating that your request has been acknowledged by the DESY Housing Service. Please note that the confirmation email is not generated automatically, therefore it may take up to 24 hours before you receive it, depending on the time of day you submitted your Housing Application Form.

You will also receive a confirmation email for your room reservation at the DESY Hostel. All individuals requesting help with their accommodation search at the DESY Housing Service will be booked into a room at the Hostel to give you time to find permanent accommodation.

Do I have to stay in the DESY Hostel while searching for housing?

It is not necessary to stay in the DESY Hostel when you arrive at DESY, but it is recommended to make your move to Hamburg as smooth as possible. The Hostel is on the DESY campus, so you will have easy access to the DESY Housing Service and other essential facilities that will help you to settle in (such as the International Office and the DESY Cash Point / Degussa Bank). It is also a lot cheaper than other hostels or hotels in Hamburg. Visit the DESY Hostel page for more information.

Can I arrange accommodation to move into as soon as I arrive in Hamburg?

Usually members of the DESY campus community find accommodation with the DESY Housing Service after arriving in Hamburg. Your initial visit to the DESY Housing Office is a very important step in your search for accommodation, as it allows us to get a clear idea of what your requirements are. Being present in Hamburg before signing a contract is also advisable, as you will be able to meet the landlord in person and view the proposed accommodation to ensure it is suitable. Be assured that the two-week stay in the DESY Hostel normally provides plenty of time to find housing through the DESY Housing Service. In exceptional cases where those in search of accommodation do not find housing within the two weeks, your DESY Hostel stay can sometimes be extended to four weeks depending on availability.
We are able to send you accommodation listings in advance of your arrival at DESY if you ask us directly, but please be advised that the same accommodation is also offered to other members of the DESY campus community who may already be present on-campus. In this case, those already in Hamburg will be at an advantage when trying to secure the accommodation, as they will be available to converse directly with the landlord and view the accommodation in person.

How long will it take to find accommodation?

The housing search process usually moves quite quickly at DESY, so it is likely that you will be able to find somewhere soon after your arrival. Most members of the DESY campus community find accommodation within two weeks of their arrival in Hamburg.

How do I get accommodation listings?

Unless otherwise requested, you will receive the accommodation listings on your initial visit to the DESY Housing Office after your arrival at DESY. This visit is very valuable, since it enables us to match you with the best possible offers that fit your requirements.

The DESY Housing database contains the addresses of about 1,000 rooms, apartments and houses for rental in Hamburg and the surrounding area. All accommodation is offered by private owners or landlords, many of whom have a long-term rental history with DESY.

What should I do after receiving the accommodation listings?

After you have received the accommodation listing you should contact the owner or landlord immediately to arrange an appointment to view the house, apartment or room to be rented. Please note that all accommodation at the DESY Housing Service is offered to other members of the DESY campus community, and several landlords may advertise it elsewhere on the internet as well. In highly sought-after areas, such as Altona, Ottensen, Bahrenfeld, Eppendorf, etc., you are very likely to have some competition, so you should aim to make a quick decision.

What are ‘cold rent’ (Kaltmiete), ‘warm rent’ (Warmmiete) and service charges (Nebenkosten)?

Kaltmiete or ‘cold rent’ is the basic cost you pay to rent an apartment or room. It excludes any service charges (Nebenkosten) for heating, electricity, gas, water and telephone/internet.

Warmmiete or ‘warm rent’ is the basic cost of the apartment plus service charges (Nebenkosten). What is included in Nebenkosten will vary depending on your lease contract. Often, electricity and telephone costs are not included in the Warmmiete, so you will have to set up the payments for these yourself.

Nebenkosten are fixed fees and have to be paid in advance in monthly instalments. The costs for your actual utility usage are calculated once a year and you will get a detailed bill. Depending on your consuption you will be refunded the difference or you will be charged.

What should I consider when searching for accommodation?

Before arranging a viewing of a room, apartment or house, you should ask yourself these questions:

  • How much do I want to spend on rent?
  • What is my budget for utilities? Do I want the utility costs to be covered in my rent?
  • How many rooms do I need? Please note: the number of rooms includes ALL rooms in the apartment or house EXCEPT the hallway, kitchen and bathroom/WC.
  • In which area of town do I want to live?
  • Do I need to be close to public transport?
  • How long is my commute to work?
  • Does the room, apartment or house need to be furnished?
  • Is there a parking space?
  • Which floor is the room or apartment on? Bear in mind ground floor or basement accommodation may be less secure.
Who decides the rental prices?

The cost of rent for accommodation at the DESY Housing Service is always set by the landlord who owns the property. DESY Housing does not have the power over any landlord’s decision regarding the price of their accommodation. Many of the landlords who choose to let their accommodation through us offer it at lower than market price, and we only accept housing that we think is fairly priced.

What should I look out for when viewing a room, apartment or house?

Accommodation needs to be safe, and suitable for your needs. Ensure the statements below are true when viewing your prospective accommodation.

  • The property is generally well-maintained.
  • The area feels safe.
  • The locks on the doors and windows are secure and working properly.
  • There are no major cracks in the walls or ceiling.
  • There are no signs of damp, e.g. water stains / mould on the walls, ceiling or floors; smell of mildew.
  • The apartment is well insulated, e.g. double glazed windows. (This will affect your energy bills.)
  • The oven, refrigerator, taps, lights and radiators work. (Try them yourself.)
  • There are facilities and space to wash and dry my laundry.
  • There is enough natural light coming into the property.
  • There are no signs of pests, e.g. rodent droppings, slug trails.
  • There are enough electrical sockets for ALL my appliances.
  • There are smoke detectors in every room. (Ask the landlord when they were last tested.)
  • There is a fire extinguisher.
  • My mobile phone can get a good signal.

Ask the landlord these questions:

  • How is the apartment or house heated? (This will affect your utility bills.)
  • Is there a secure, private post box for my mail?
  • Whose responsibility is it to clean common areas? E.g. the stairwell, shared basement, etc. Is there a charge if these are cleaned for me?
  • Where is the nearest… supermarket, bus stop, S-Bahn station, bank…?
  • Is smoking permitted in the property?
  • Am I allowed to keep a pet in the property?
  • Has the property ever been burgled?
  • How much is the deposit?
  • How should I pay the rent?
  • Is it a fixed-term or month-to-month tenancy? Is it extendable when the tenancy comes to an end?
What should I do if I am no longer able to attend my appointment to view a room, apartment or house?

If you are no longer able to meet the landlord for a viewing of your desired accommodation, you must cancel it yourself and rearrange another viewing if required.

What should I do after viewing a room, apartment or house?

You should contact the DESY Housing Service immediately after viewing accommodation to inform us of the result of your visit, whether you wish to accept or decline. Contact details can be found on the Contact us page.

How do I secure the rental of a room, apartment or house I want to move in to?

When you have found the accommodation you wish to rent, you should inform the landlord of the property and the DESY Housing Service to ensure that the accommodation is not offered to anybody else. You will then be able to arrange the signing of the contract, collect the keys to the property and set a date to move in.

What should I do if I find accommodation without the help of DESY Housing?

If you find accommodation without the help of the DESY Housing Service (i.e. a room, apartment or house that is not from our housing listings), you must let us know immediately so your request can be removed from our database.

Moving into accommodation

What are the terms and conditions of the lease of my accommodation?

The terms and conditions for your rental will vary depending on the lease. The owner or landlord will either provide their own contract stating all terms and conditions for the tenancy at their accommodation.

Do I have to pay all of the security deposit for the accommodation in one go?

German law states that if a tenant cannot pay the total deposit in one payment, they are allowed to split it into a maximum of three instalments, each payable with the first three monthly rent payments. Talk to your landlord about this before signing the contract.

Living in accommodation

What is expected of me when living in rented accommodation?

There are several house rules that must be adhered to when renting housing in Germany.
Rent must be paid by the 3rd day of the month. The full rent must be paid during all vacations/holidays. If you leave earlier than mentioned in your contract, you must give notice of:

  • one month for a room
  • up to three months for an apartment or house

Water and electricity are expensive in Germany; unnecessary use has to be paid for. You will be charged separately for utility services such as water, gas, electricity and heating if they are not included in the rent.
If you return home late (after 22:30) remember to be quiet. Do not take a bath or shower or cook after 22:30.

Your room or apartment must be cleaned at least once a week. Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathroom/WC. Leave the kitchen and bathroom/WC as you found them, if not cleaner.
Ensure that no smells linger in the kitchen after cooking. Always use the extractor fan if provided, or open the window to allow fresh air to circulate and clear out the odours.
Open the window or turn on the extractor fan in the bathroom during and/or after bathing or showering to ensure the steam has completely cleared from the room.
Remember to air your room or apartment for a few minutes every day to clear out the humid air. Keep in mind that all doors and windows must be shut whenever you leave the building. If not, you can be made liable for any damage caused by unexpected wind or rain.

If you are away
Please inform your landlord if you plan to be away on holiday or business. The owners often worry if they do not see you for a while.
For information on renting housing in Germany, please refer to the How to Germany website.

Do I need to register my address?

Yes. When you have found accommodation, you must register your address at the nearest registration office (Kundenzentrum or Bürgeramt). You also need to re-register every time you move house. More detailed information can be found on the International Office website.

How soon after moving to Hamburg do I need to register?

You must register within two weeks of moving into your new home.

How do I set up payments for electricity, gas and water?

If your utility bills are not included in the monthly rent for your apartment, you will need to set them up yourself. The DESY Housing Service team will be able to give you advice on how to do this, but you can also refer to the Anglo info website for general information.

What is 'personal liability insurance' or 'third party insurance'?

It is a requirement at DESY that you take out personal liability insurance / third party insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) for your stay in Germany. This insurance will cover damages you or your family cause to others or to their property. Landlords who rent their accommodation through the DESY Housing Service want to be sure that their tenants are properly insured.

Why am I expected to take it out?
In Germany, you are legally responsible for any damage you cause to others or to their property. Your personal liability insurance will handle a claim against you until it is either settled or rejected.

What does it cover?
The insurance covers you in events where you are considered under German law to have been negligent, or not to have taken sufficient care. There are, however, instances in which you would not be covered for the damage you have caused, for example when a rented object is damaged. If you have caused damage by gross negligence, there will be a reduction in compensation. The following link will take you to a table displaying examples of when you would and would not be covered in the event of damage or injury.

application/pdf Personal Liability Insurance Coverage (315KB)
Personal Liability Insurance Coverage

Ask at the International Office for information about taking out a personal liability insurance policy.

More information about personal liability insurance, as well as other kinds of insurance, can be found on the How to Germany website.

What are 'Rundfunkgebühr' and 'GEZ'?

All residents in Germany are required by law to pay a fee for German public broadcasting services. This fee is known as Rundfunkgebühr, and must be paid to the Gebühreneinzugszentrale (GEZ), which is the processing centre for this payment. Shortly after moving into your accommodation, you will receive a letter from the GEZ stating the amount you owe and giving advice on how you should proceed. The fee is €17.98 per month per household and is compulsory.

Do I need to pay rent when I am away on holiday or business?

Yes, you are responsible for your rent payments for the entire lease period of your accommodation.

Moving out of accommodation

How much notice must I give if I want to move out of my accommodation?
  1. If you are renting a room in a shared apartment/house please check terms of your lease contract concerning termination (normally one to three months). You must inform your landlord by giving written notice 1-3 months before moving out.
  2. If you are renting a house or an apartment please check terms of your lease contract concerning termination (normally three months). Please be aware that open end lease contracts can only be ended in accordance with the German Civil Code. Tenants may end a lease conrtact by giving written notice to the landlord “at the latest on the third working day of a calendar month to the end of the second month” (3 months before moving out).
What must I do before moving out of my accommodation?

Moving out checklist

  • Cancel any contracts that you have opened since living in your accommodation and settle any outstanding payments. This may include: contracts for utility bills (electricity, gas, water); telephone and Internet contracts; your mobile phone contract
  • Cancel any standing order payments to your landlord for rent
  • De-register your residence at the registration office (Kundenzentrum or Bürgeramt) where you first registered. This must be done on the day you leave, so please visit the International Office a few days before your departure so they can organise this for you.
  • Clean your room, apartment or house. See below for more detailed information.

It is advisable to keep your German bank account open when you move away so your landlord can easily pay back your deposit. It will also allow for any outstanding payments for utilities to be settled. You can ask your bank to close the account after you have left, but you should provide them with a contact number or address and your new bank details so they can transfer any remaining balance to you.

Final cleaning checklist

You are required to leave your accommodation in the same state it was in when you arrived: empty, clean and tidy. Dirt or mess left in a room, apartment or house will not be considered normal wear and tear under any circumstances, and so you will not be able to make a liability insurance claim against any extra charges incurred for this.
There is a charge for final cleaning of the accommodation after your departure. Part or all of this cost can be paid back to you if you leave the room or apartment really clean and tidy.
If the home has not been satisfactorily cleaned on your departure, or any waste or abandoned items have been left, appropriate charges will be deducted from your security deposit. If the landlord must hire someone to clean the property, labour costs will be a lot higher than if you had taken the time to properly clean it in the first place.

We advise you to act in accordance with the following guidelines to avoid any deductions from your security deposit:

  • Remove all belongings from wardrobes, drawers, shelves, etc.
  • Clean the windows and leave them streak-free.
  • Wipe all the cupboards inside and out.
  • Clean dust and dirt off all surfaces, including radiators.
  • Remove all dust and dirt from the chairs, sofa, etc. If necessary, use the vacuum cleaner.
  • Clean behind and underneath the beds.
  • Leave the bath, shower, toilet, tiles, taps, mirror, shower screen, tooth mug, etc. clean and streak-free.
  • Wash all china, cutlery, pots and pans in the kitchen.
  • Remove all the crumbs from the bread box.
  • Defrost the fridge/freezer: remove all items from inside, turn it off, place newspaper or old towels around the base, and leave with the door open for up to two days. Then clean and dry the inside and outside, and leave off with the door open.
  • Clean the oven, stove, microwave and sink thoroughly with appropriate cleaning products, removing all grease and burnt-on food and leaving them shiny and streak-free.
  • Remove grease and dirt from overhead kitchen extractor fan, including the filter and light.
  • Clean the inside of the dishwasher.
  • Vacuum all the carpets and rent a machine to clean them if necessary. Sweep and mop all the tiled and linoleum floors.
  • Dust or vacuum all blinds and/or curtains.
  • Remove any cobwebs.
  • Return all furniture to its original position.
  • Dust or wipe walls with a damp cloth. Check in your rental contract if you are responsible for repainting the walls.

Once everything is clean and tidy, take the sheets and towels to the landlord to be cleaned if you have not got time to do it yourself, and ask him/her to check the cleaning has been done to an acceptable standard. If everything is in order, return the keys.

Moving to new accommodation within Germany

If you are moving to new accommodation within Germany, remember to inform the following institutions and service providers of your change of address:

  • your employer
  • utilities and service providers (for electricity, gas, water, telephone, Internet and mobile phone)
  • your bank
  • the tax office
  • your health insurance provider
  • any other subscription services you have signed up for
  • the postal service – you can arrange for Deutsche Post to forward your mail to your new address for up to 2 years after you have moved. This will cost between €19.90 and €34.90. Visit the Deutsche Post website for more information.
Can I transfer my accommodation to a friend or group member at DESY who is in search of housing?

Yes, but if you wish to do this, you must inform the DESY Housing Service.