Property Ownership in Germany

Published on May 15th, 2024

Are you considering buying a property in Germany? Before you do, learn more about the fundamental points of property ownership in Germany. We have compiled a list of various matters to bear in mind.

Common spaces

There is a brilliant German word for the common areas of an apartment block – Gemeinschaftsflächen. This is also an important concept as once you buy an apartment, you own not only your own unit but you also have rights on other common spaces, such as the stairwell, roof, heating system and bike cellar, to name a few. Some newer apartment buildings might have luxury common spaces such as a gym, pool or rooftop terrace.  The size of your apartment determines which proportion of the common areas you own. In the event of repairs, you are also responsible for your share of the costs in the common areas.

Facility management

Facility management is used to refer to the technical management of a building and covers aspects such as safety, proper functioning and sustainability of the property. The facility manager makes sure that buildings and systems are operating efficiently. This can result in lower operating costs and help to preserve or even increase the value of the property.

If repairs are needed, the facility management company works on behalf of the owners and gathers offers, supervises the work and settles the invoices. At the end they are also responsible for the correct reconciliation of the costs between the owners.

Owners’ assemblies and voting rights

If your unit is part of a bigger property, each owner will be required to pay their share of the Rücklagen or reserve funds. This is an allowance in case repairs are required. In the event of repairs being necessary, this money is used to cover the cost. We recommend that you review the reserve funds for your property before purchase. In some cases there is a need for extraordinary repairs that cost more than the current reserve funds and as such owners are required to cover the extra costs. However, these repairs need to be scheduled in advance and agreed (and documented) during the owner’s assembly. 

Proportional ownership

The size of your apartment determines your ownership share of the entire apartment building. When costs are incurred for the building, these are also divided according to your ownership proportion. Thus those with a smaller apartment will have lower costs than those with a very large apartment. This also applies to repairs and maintenance.

Building insurance

It is highly recommended to have building insurance for your property. This generally covers damage by fire, storm or hail, for example. Please bear in mind that this is only for the building itself, i.e. the common spaces.

Expert support

We hope that this short insight into some important aspects of owning a property in German has helped you. If you do have further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the experts at ExpatsGuide, we will be happy to help!

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Jenny Leibe

Jenny is a British citizen who has been living in Germany (Heidelberg, Berlin, Marbach am Neckar) since 2008. She has also lived in Scotland, England, Sweden, and Spain. She has plenty of experience in moving to new countries and getting to know new cultures and is now putting these to good use in her work as a Relocation Consultant.

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