Renting a flat in Germany while not being a resident

12 posts in this topic

Hello, I have been Googling this topic and searching Toytown for information about it, but I couldn't find exactly what I'm looking for. Apologies if it's been asked before, but before contacting a tax advisor, I thought I'd try here first.

 

How would having my name on an apartment lease (as one of the two renters) affect my legal status in Germany, given that I am not a German resident? I spend regular time in Berlin, where my girlfriend has a residence, and we are looking into renting a flat, where she would be the only one registered. Obviously we'd have better chances if we put both our incomes in the application, but I am unsure how Germany considers people who are not registered/resident in Germany but are renting a flat here. Would the second residence apply in this case, considering I might be here a couple of months a year?

 

My main concern is that Germany would to treat me as a tax resident, although I pay my taxes in another EU country. Is that the case or is it okay to rent a flat without being a resident and without having to pay taxes, as long as I don't spend enough time in Germany to be considered a resident?

 

Thank you

 

(I asked this another topic first, but might've been the wrong one and looks like I can't delete that now, sorry)

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You actually have more than just one question here - but I'll try to sort things out as best I can. Remember, though, I am not a lawyer or in any way a professional adviser of any legal capacity - my advice is purely conversational in nature, and claims absolutely no accuracy or completeness.

 

1. renting an apartment together with your girlfriend
That depends entirely on your (potential) landlord. You are free to engage in any legal type of contractual agreement with people in Germany, as an individual, or as a couple - if (and that's the catch) the landlord is willing to do that. You hope, that a landlord would consider your income as "extra security" for the rental agreement. That, however is debateable. I am a landlord myself. If two people wanted to sign a rental agreement for one of my apartments, and one of them really lives in another country, I'd be worried that this person (the one outside of Germany) may not be easy to get a hold of, in case the other one (living in Germany full time) has any trouble making payment.

 

2. registering as a resident in Germany
this part of your plans is governed by the German "Meldegesetz". Means, if you have access to the apartment at any time (no matter how long your stay will be) you need to register with Meldebehörde. Your landlord will give you the necessary "Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung" to do that. If you don't register yourself within 2 weeks of taking possession, your landlord has to do it for you. Also consider the total time that you plan on staying in Germany. Depending on your nationality, you may or may not need some type of visa/residence permit if you stay over 90 days.

 

3. paying taxes in Germany

if you work in Germany (meaning you are physically present in Germany while generating income) you'll be subject to German income tax. Also, if you have income generating assets located in Germany (like real estate that you rent out) while you are living somewhere else, that part of your income generated from German real estate will be taxed in Germany.

 

 

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Dont do this if your, relationship goes south you are now holding the bag on a lease where you do not live. even less so if she can not qualify on her own. Ok to  help pay costs if you wish but you have no idea what tomorrow brings.dont mean to be negative but a realist.

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1 hour ago, karin_brenig said:

if you have access to the apartment at any time (no matter how long your stay will be) you need to register with Meldebehörde.

I don´t think so. The definition of "Wohnsitz" (residence) of the Meldegesetz isn´t the same as that of the Abgabenordnung (i. e. for tax purposes / revenue service). As I understand it you only need to register if your stay exceeds 2 months at a time or 182 days per year.

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19 hours ago, jeba said:

I don´t think so. The definition of "Wohnsitz" (residence) of the Meldegesetz isn´t the same as that of the Abgabenordnung (i. e. for tax purposes / revenue service). As I understand it you only need to register if your stay exceeds 2 months at a time or 182 days per year.

So does this mean that if I don't stay more than 2 months at a time, then I am not becoming a tax resident in Germany, but if I do spend 2 months at a time in the flat (or 182 days a year) then I become a tax resident?


 

20 hours ago, karin_brenig said:

You actually have more than just one question here - but I'll try to sort things out as best I can. Remember, though, I am not a lawyer or in any way a professional adviser of any legal capacity - my advice is purely conversational in nature, and claims absolutely no accuracy or completeness.

 

1. renting an apartment together with your girlfriend
That depends entirely on your (potential) landlord. You are free to engage in any legal type of contractual agreement with people in Germany, as an individual, or as a couple - if (and that's the catch) the landlord is willing to do that. You hope, that a landlord would consider your income as "extra security" for the rental agreement. That, however is debateable. I am a landlord myself. If two people wanted to sign a rental agreement for one of my apartments, and one of them really lives in another country, I'd be worried that this person (the one outside of Germany) may not be easy to get a hold of, in case the other one (living in Germany full time) has any trouble making payment.

 

2. registering as a resident in Germany
this part of your plans is governed by the German "Meldegesetz". Means, if you have access to the apartment at any time (no matter how long your stay will be) you need to register with Meldebehörde. Your landlord will give you the necessary "Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung" to do that. If you don't register yourself within 2 weeks of taking possession, your landlord has to do it for you. Also consider the total time that you plan on staying in Germany. Depending on your nationality, you may or may not need some type of visa/residence permit if you stay over 90 days.

 

3. paying taxes in Germany

if you work in Germany (meaning you are physically present in Germany while generating income) you'll be subject to German income tax. Also, if you have income generating assets located in Germany (like real estate that you rent out) while you are living somewhere else, that part of your income generated from German real estate will be taxed in Germany.

 

 

My income is not generated in Germany, nor do I have assets generating income here. 

 

I am not sure I understood the bottom line in the end. I understand that it's complicated and it depends on many things, so assuming the landlord agrees, that my income is not bound to Germany in any way and that I don't spend more than 2 months at a time (nor 182 days a year), would renting a flat in Germany make me a tax resident in this case?

 

Thank you for your replies.

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Actually there is no clear-cut definition for when you become subject to taxation. Firstly, it depends on the agreement for the avoidance of double taxation between your country of residence and Germany and secondly it depends on where the centre of your life interest is (which leaves a lot of room for interpretation). The latter may override the 183 days rule. If the centre of your life interest is deemed to be Germany there is a risk you´ll be liable for taxes in Germany. The revenue service may claim you have a residence if you have an abode available to you - even if you never set foot into Germany during the tax year. You´d then have to prove to them that the center of your life interest is outside Germany.

 

The Meldegesetz is more clear-cut. If you´re usually living in another country you only have to register if you stay for more than 3 months (not 2 as I wrote above, see § 27 (2) Meldegesetz: https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bmg/BJNR108410013.html).

 

In practice I´d guess that there is little risk the revenue service even coming to know of you as long as you don´t stay for more than 3 months because you´ll usually only be on their radar screen once you´re registered (which you don´t have to do for shorter stays and which isn´t advisable to do unnecessarily as it  would come with an obligation to get BAFIN-approved health insurance).

 

Again: I´m not an accountant and I´m telling you merely what I remember from a consultation I had with an accountant specialised in such issues 6 years ago (when I was still living in Germany) and some googling.

 

If I was you I´d feel safer if my name wasn´t on the lease contract. I´d simply have the landlord give you the option to become party to the lease and clarify that you´ll be alllowed to visit for up to 3 months at a time instead of the usual 6 weeks.

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I realise this is an old thread and hopefully Conder has by now found a solution appropriate to his needs. However I was impressed by the thoughtful and thorough replies (as I so often am in this forum) from other members.  I myself have been away for about 9 years and returning under different circumstances find myself needing to reacquaint myself with the rules; hence my scanning through the forums tonight. This comment is therefore for the benefit of others who may come across this thread in the future.

 

Things have indeed changed during my absence. By and large it seems Germany is in a much better position to deal with expats and foreigners than they were a decade ago. Jeba was good enough to point out (above) that the Anmeldung law has been extended from 2 months to 3.  In the same spirit here is the simple English explanation of who must register for a tax ID number in Germany*. This is the website of the German Federal Tax Authority or Bundeszentralamt für Steurn. Scroll down and click on General Questions, the third in the FAQ says:

 

One IdNo will be assigned to every person who is registered with a primary place of residence or sole residence in a civil registry in Germany.

 

This is pretty clear on the face of it. When you get your Anmeldung it will almost automatically result in you being issued a tax ID "ankle-bracelet". If this is not your sole residence and if amongst your several residences Germany is not to be your primary residence, you probably should make this clear at the beginning of the interview and tell them that you do not want one. You'll be on rocky ground as they may insist (because your case is not common and the human instinct is to reject the unfamiliar) or ask you pointed questions like why are getting an Anmeldung in that case, are you up to something fishy?  I would ponder this very carefully, actually and suggest you go prepared with a good answer.

 

All said and done however, if the above exception applies to you and you have reasons to warrant taking on the additional aggravation you will undoubtedly face, then you are within your rights to refuse a tax registration. If you'd like an example of the sorts of aggravation you could face: a Swedish national, Swiss resident that I know naively registered a holiday rental in Germany where he intended to stay for 3 months and was automatically issued a Tax ID. He then needed to petition the Federal tax authorities directly and it took a year plus mountains of supporting documents in order to request to be de-registered. I don't actually know if he succeeded.

 

*Having a Tax ID does not necessarily mean you will have to pay taxes in Germany. But it does mean you will have to submit an annual return, possibly for the rest of your life.

 

Edit: Apparently the last sentence in inaccurate, apologies. See PandaMunich's clarification below. I'm leaving it up so the following posts make sense.

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53 minutes ago, Dizz said:

*Having a Tax ID does not necessarily mean you will have to pay taxes in Germany. But it does mean you will have to submit an annual return, possibly for the rest of your life.

 

It doesn't, you know.

Only people who are actually resident in Germany and additionally have as yet untaxed taxable income have to file a German tax return, see here

 

Please note that if you are resident in Germany, you have to declare your worldwide income in your German tax return (except for some EU/EEA rental income), since as the country of residence, Germany gets to either tax that income outright, or to use it to raise your German income tax rate on the income it does tax see here.

 

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6 minutes ago, PandaMunich said:

 

It doesn't, you know.

Only people who are actually resident in Germany and additionally have as yet untaxed taxable income have to file a German tax return, see here

 

Please note that if you are resident in Germany, you have to declare your worldwide income in your German tax return (except for some EU/EEA rental income), since as the country of residence, Germany gets to either tax that income outright, or to use it to raise your German income tax rate on the income it does tax see here.

 

Thanks for the clarification, I've added a comment to my original post. Coming to your second point, it's precisely because of that global taxation provision that I think certain classes of expats should think very carefully about getting registered unwittingly.

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7 hours ago, PandaMunich said:

Only people who are actually resident in Germany and additionally have as yet untaxed taxable income have to file a German tax return,

That would mean that non-residents with income from German sources don't have to file a tax return. I wish it was like that. However, it isn't.

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2 hours ago, jeba said:

That would mean that non-residents with income from German sources don't have to file a tax return. I wish it was like that. However, it isn't.

Which is clearly stated in the link I had previously posted, see the heading "You are not resident in Germany".

 

But this is not what Dizz was worried about.

He was worried that someone with no ties to Germany at all, who just comes here on holiday and registers by mistake and therefore gets a Steueridentifikationsnummer, will have to file tax returns in Germany in all perpetuity, just because he now has a Steueridentifikationsnummer, despite not even living in Germany.

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