What is allowed in a rented apartment?

05. March 2024

Time and again, tenants ask the question: What is allowed in a rented apartment and what is not? There are many myths and misconceptions about this. Probably because there is often no clear yes or no in tenancy law. So if you have any doubts, check the house rules or the tenancy agreement, or ask your landlord! Also talk to your neighbors: many misunderstandings and disputes can be resolved with a factual conversation. Everyone should strive for a good neighborly relationship: The aim is to create a harmonious coexistence in which neighbors show mutual consideration for each other.

How much noise am I allowed to make?

Look at the house rules: these should clearly define when residents must observe quiet hours. As a rule, the night-time quiet period is from 10 pm to 6 am. There is often also a midday quiet period, for example from 1 pm to 3 pm. Outside of quiet hours, you are allowed to play music, vacuum or turn up the stereo a little. During quiet hours, you are still allowed to listen to music or watch TV, for example – but only at room volume.

Contrary to popular belief, however, there is no right to party: even on special occasions such as birthdays, the night’s rest must be observed from 10 pm. If you still want to have a big party, you can come to an agreement with your neighbors – because if no one complains, you can of course party longer!

You can shower whenever you like – even in the middle of the night, for example when you return from the night shift.

Noise from children must be tolerated by neighbors to a normal extent in and around the house: Babies also cry at night and children are sometimes loud when playing. However, parents should curb their little ones’ loud play instinct during quiet times.

Friends and other guests: How long can my visitors stay?

You can have visitors as often as you like. Of course, you should also pay attention to the volume and observe the quiet times. Visitors can sometimes stay longer – even for several weeks. However, there are limits here: After a stay of around six to eight weeks, the guest is no longer considered a guest, but a roommate.

Hammering, screwing, painting: What am I allowed to change in my apartment?

As a tenant, you are of course allowed to carry out minor cosmetic repairs, such as repainting the walls. You are even obliged to renovate your apartment if it looks worn out after years. A new floor or holes drilled in the wall are also okay – however, your landlord may demand that you restore the original condition when you move out.

Remodeling measures that interfere with the fabric of the building are only permitted with the landlord’s consent: So if you want to knock down walls, drill holes in the external facade or re-tile the bathroom, make sure you ask first!

Would you like to renovate your apartment? Take a look at our renovation tips!

Dog, hamster & Co: Can I keep pets in my apartment?

Small pets such as hamsters, ornamental fish or budgerigars may move in with you without your landlord’s permission – but the number must remain within the usual limits for keeping pets, the neighbors must not be disturbed and the animals must not cause any damage to the apartment. If you want a dog or cat, you need your landlord’s permission. A general ban on keeping pets in the tenancy agreement is invalid.

Attention: If you have a pet and want to install a net on the balcony, your landlord must give their consent. This is because it is a change to the rented property.

The deal with the next tenant: Am I allowed to agree move-out and transfer premiums?

Agreing a move-out premium is generally prohibited – neither the landlord nor the tenant may demand money from the prospective tenant for vacating the apartment.

Retransfer agreements between the future and current tenant are, however, permitted: If the new tenant wants to take over the kitchen or other furnishings, for example, the previous tenant may demand a sum for this that roughly corresponds to the current value.

Tip: Use our checklist for moving house when moving!

My home is my office: Am I allowed to work in my home?

If you do typical office work at your desk or computer and do not receive customer visits, you may of course work in your home office. For jobs that involve a high noise level, such as music teachers or childminders, the landlord and neighbors must agree. The same applies to activities with walk-in customers or other employees: If there is regular foot traffic in the building due to your work, the landlord may stop this. Also ask if you want to put up a company sign or a doorbell sign!

Rummage in the stairwell: Am I allowed to leave shoes, baby carriages &co in the hallway?

You can temporarily leave a pair of shoes on the doormat outside your front door or temporarily store a bag of waste paper – but not the foul-smelling residual waste. Baby carriages, wheelchairs and walking frames may be left in the hallway permanently. However, make absolutely sure that an escape route with a passage width of 90 centimetres remains clear at all times.

You are not allowed to store your old furniture or boxes of stuff that you no longer need in the stairwell. Use your cellar or storage room for this!