The Rental agreement
These come in all shapes and sizes.
It is possible to buy a standard form from the shops, fill in the blanks and off you go. The standard form runs to about ten pages and covers everythign that you can think of.
If you are faced with one of these, you really should have a careful look at it. Not that there is likely to be anything awful lurking in there but, the contract will include all of your obligations and it is as well to be aware of these.
The long forms specify all kinds of things such as, for example, whether or not you are required to provide insurance for the property. One form that I saw stated that there was a washing machine in the apartment and that I was welcome to use it but, if it broke, I was responsible for fixing it.
Now, that doesn't sound too bad but consider that the washing machine might be a very expensive one and that it may have be much used and abused by the former tenants. You'd not really like to be faced with a bill for five hundred Euro to fix a machine that you have only used half a dozen times in the course of a short rental for a three month contract.
If you are renting somewhere that is fully, or partly furnished, you will find that the agreement includes a detailed property list. Even if there is nothing missing or damaged at the end of your tennancy, it can be a real hassle to spend two hours with the landlord while he goes through every last item on the list to check that you didn't steal any table mats!
It can be a real problem if you speak little or no German and you are faced with one of these agreements. The best solution is to get a German speaking friend to look at it and just to point out to you the things to which the agreement will commit you.