(taken over from http://www.study-in-germany.de)
The Lease Agreement
By signing a lease, you gain certain rights, but you also gain responsibilities. Among them:
- payment of rent
- observance of the period of notice to move out
payment for certain repairs
- in some cases, covering renovation costs when you move out
- rent increases, depending on the stipulations in the lease
- payment of additional costs (heating, water, garbage disposal, etc.)
Rent prices are often given as either "cold" or "warm." "Warm" means that the rental price includes the additional costs mentioned above. "Cold Rent" refers to the sum that you have to pay without those additional costs added on. The kinds and amount of these additional costs depend on the apartment and its location. Remember: pay close attention to the final amount you'll be asked to pay every month.
In addition to the rent, in most cases you will have to leave a security deposit. The amount usually ranges from one to three months rent. You will get this money back when you move out of the flat, along with any interest the deposit earned while it sat in the bank. Make sure you completely understand any lease agreement before you sign it. With your signature, you are consigning yourself to the countless rules and regulations set out in all the legalese and fine print in the lease. Before you legally commit yourself to something that might not be in your best interests, consult a friend or colleague.
You can find more information on the contract here: http://www.justlanded.com/english/Germany/Germany-Guide/Housing-Rentals/Contracts