As the housing shortage has made finding an apartment extremely difficult, it is essential that you know your rights as a tenant. For small pets (rodents, reptiles, birds - with the exception of noisy parrots etc.) notifying the property owner is not required. For cats and dogs, you do need prior written permission.
Generally speaking, it may be easier to find a room in a shared apartment (or WG) which already has pets in it or where the building is known to be pet friendly.
- It is illegal for property owners to outright ban the keeping of pets altogether.
- If there is no clause about pets or related restrictions in your contract, then you are not required to declare that you own one.
- If a clause exists in your rental contract that you need to seek permission in writing, then you must do so before moving in. It can help to describe the pet in detail, the kind of training it has or will receive, and your insurance coverage.
- If you plan on bringing a pet into the apartment at a future date, it is paramount you get permission first in writing before doing so.
- If you bring in a pet without permission, they can force you to get rid of it or else terminate your contract.
- In case there is a ban against dog ownership, they need to provide a valid explanation and logical reason for the ban. If there is even one dog already in the building, they cannot withhold permission. An exception to this is if the dog falls into the category of "listed breeds", i.e. (American) Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bullterrier or a mix thereof.
If you have signed a poorly worded or normally invalid contract, then it remains valid as you have already agreed to it! Take care to go over rental contracts with the help of a lawyer or the Mieterverein before signing.
Even with pushy or passive aggressive neighbours, it's not that easy to be kicked out without proof and especially not without forewarning.
- The property owners need to prove that your pets (and not others) were the ones making noise at the specific times claimed.
- Too much noise is a grey area, but it's somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes of nonstop noise on a regular basis outside of the Ruhezeiten (official quiet periods) and any nonstop noise during the Ruhezeiten (in Berlin it is 10pm - 6am Monday to Saturdays, and any time on Sundays and public holidays).
- As evidence for a noise disturbance and police action, a noise protocol (Lärmprotokoll) needs to be filled out and signed.
- Damage made to common property likewise has to be proven as caused by your pet. It is not enough that someone suspects your pet - a similar protocol with witnesses is required.
Talk to your neighbours individually to gather witnesses to support your case and contact the Mieterverein (or if you have legal insurance consult a lawyer).