Deposits and Notice Periods
The three months notice period
This is not really a problem for a person working in Germany on a fixed term contract. After all, you know when your contract will end and, when there is two months left to run, you should have a good idea of whether or not you will be staying. Put in the three months notice on the apartment then and you have one month spare at the end of the contract for moving out.

However, if you cannot give this notice, you still have one possibility. You can try to find a Nachmieter. That is, an after renter. This is allowed on the standard rental contracts and it works like this:

You advertise for a Nachmieter and people come to you and have a look at the apartment. If they would like to rent the apartment, you take their names and other details. Then you give three names etc to the landlord and it is up to him to choose one. That way, you do not lose out because you gave short notice. If the landlord doesn't like any of them, that is his problem. As long as they are serious and have the money, you will be OK.

The deposit
When you agree to rent an apartment and pay a deposit, the money should be credited to an interest bearing bank account that is specific to that rental. I do not know if this really gives a tenant any serious protection in the even that the landlord goes bankrupt.

Often, this does not happen anyway. Especially in the case of non-professional landlords the money just goes into a bank account somewhere.

In theory, at the end of the agreement, you would get back the deposit less any deductions with a written explanation as to what the deductions were for.

There are laws that govern deposits and, in theory, you cannot be made to pay more than three months deposit and you can ask to pay the deposit in instalments over the first three months of a tenancy. Also, the landlord can keep the deposit for six months in case any other charges come to light. In practice, you will always be expected to pay the deposit up front and if the landlord demands six months, what will you do?

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