Eligibility and authorization
are generally required to live on-post. If on-post housing is not
available within 60 days of arrival, authorization may be given to
reside off post. Single officers and senior enlisted personnel may
also be authorized to live off post.
Please not that the housing office is the only entity authorized to
approve off-post housing and be aware if you decide to live off post,
you will be required to remain off post for a minimum of one year before
you can be considered for Government Housing.
Once permission to
reside off-post is given, Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) will be
authorized. OHA includes a Basic Allowance for Housing plus
additional money to assist with utilities and recurring maintenance
expenses. Note that OHA is only for the amount required to fulfill
the rental contract approved by housing, i.e., if your rental costs are
less than the total amount authorized for your grade, you are not paid
the difference. If your rental costs are more than the total
amount authorized for your grade you are responsible for paying the
difference. The OHA rates are based on grade and are subject to
change. For current rate information, visit our
OHA Rate Webpage.
Service members who are authorized a government funded move and who are
eligible for OHA are normally entitled to the Move-In Housing Allowance
(MIHA). The MIHA is a one-time payment intended to offset some of
the expenses incurred when initially setting-up a household off-post
such as security deposits and utility hook-ups.
What to expect from community housing
The majority of
available rental property in Germany is apartments. Single-family
homes can also be found but are rare. Houses and apartments in
Germany are built a little differently than those in the US.
First, the average dwelling size is much smaller than most Americans are
used to and German houses rarely have built-in closets, resulting in
limited storage space. Kitchens are small and are typically not
equipped with cabinets, sinks, stoves, and most light fixtures.
Many times, new occupants must purchase kitchen cabinets, light fixtures
and appliances from the former tenant or must purchase new items to
furnish the kitchen. The Furnishings Management Office can provide
kitchen cabinets, appliances, and closets for free of charge. Like
on-post housing, homes on the economy typically do not have air
conditioning or forced air heat. Yards are small and garages, if
available, will cost extra.
A security deposit
(Kaution) is required on most dwellings; normally it equates to two
months rent. The deposit is the landlord's safeguard in the event
that the tenant moves out and leaves unpaid bills. Using the AE
Form 210-50J, available at the Housing Office, can help to negotiate and
pro-rate deposits with the landlord.
Utilities are averaged
using a formula based on the living space of the house or apartment and
the number of people in the family. The same amount is paid every
month for electricity, heat, water, sewage, garbage disposal, etc.
At the end of the year, a final
bill is calculated and the tenant either receives a refund or pays an
additional amount. The next year's payment will be adjusted
accordingly. Some utility companies require a deposit. This
is usually 125-250 Euros. Credit is then given for deposits when
the final bill is settled. The total cost of utilities average
125-200 Euros per month.
Finding off-post housing
The Community Homefinding
Relocation and Referral Services (CHRRS) office, most commonly referred
to as "the Housing Office" has counselors that can provide limited
assistance with the location of off-post rentals as well as explain
lease and inspection requirements.
If you do not find what you want among the Housing Office listings, it
may be a good idea to place an ad in the local German paper. You
will be surprised at how many German landlords will call you offering an
apartment for rent. One of our writers did just this and received
over 20 phone calls from German landlords the morning the ad came
If you are interested in this, simply pick up the local paper's real
estate section and call the listed number. If you don't speak
German, ask for someone who speaks English. Explain what you
want to advertise, and understand that they typically charge ads by
the letter. You will want to advertise the fact that you are
an American servicemember, what area of town you are looking for,
what size apartment, and (most importantly) what you are willing to
pay (your full OHA rate). Understand that OHA rates are
typically much more than you will need for a suitable apartment or
house, and that Germans will jump at the opportunity to get a high
paying American renter.
If the assistance of a real estate agent (Immobilien)
is used, be aware that there is a charge for this service, usually the
equivalent of two months rent. Immobilien services usually consist
of providing listings and arranging for site visits to avaiable
apartments and homes.
If an apartment is found without the assistance of the Housing Office,
then the Housing office must be contacted before the rental
contact is signed. That way, the Housing Office counselor can
inspect the dwelling, make certain the contract is in order, and that
the service member's rights are protected.
SEE OUR GUIDE TO
CLAIMS FOR LOSS/DAMAGE TO HOUSEHOLD GOODS/BAGGAGE