What is a Nachmieter?
Sometimes, when you are looking at ads for apartments, you will see the phrase "Nachmieter gesucht" or something like it. The literal translation is "Looking for an after-renter" and there are one or two quirks in German rental practices about which you might like to know.
A standard rental contract in Germany has a three month notice period and, if a tenant wants to move out sooner, they will normally forfeit part of their deposit to the tune of the months that they trim off the notice period.
There is a way round this penalty which is for the tenant to provide the landlord with three suitable substitutes who are willing, and able, to rent the property.
So, if you see an ad for a Nachmieter, you should understand that when you go to look at the property, you are only being offered the opportunity to ask to be placed on a list of potential tenants to be given to the landlord.
This can have a couple of tricky implications for you as a prospective tenant.
First of all, you might find that you are completely wasting your time. If the existing tenant doesn't submit your name to the owner, you will never be in with a hope. It is quite possible that the tenant already has one person lined up for the apartment but that they do not want to submit just one name and run the risk of a stroppy landlord retaining the deposit. So, the tenant might intend to submit the name of his friend and the name of two others who are, on the face of it suitable but who, in reality, are not likely to be picked by the owner.
A worse problem is the Einbaukuche scam. It is common for a tenant in Germany to buy a built in kitchen for their apartment. When they leave, they could dismantle it and take it away but normally they will try to sell it on to the next tenant. That's all very well but consider the situation where there is a shortage of apartments and the tenant owns the built in kitchen. Perhaps the tenant paid one thousand Euro for the kitchen and, when he advertises for a Nachmieter, he gets fifty people calling up. He tells them that he is looking for three thousand for the kitchen but that he is open to offers. It is clear that the names that will be given to the owner will be the names of the folks who are prepared to pay the furthest over the top for the kitchen.
I don't want to say that you should never respond to an ad for a Nachmieter but you should understand that you may end up playing a game with somebody whose motivations are far from simply looking for a tenant.