9.8 Housing benefits

International students have the right to apply for housing benefits (Wohngeld). The period of time for which the benefits may be granted depends on the number of semesters for which the applicant has been enrolled or given a residence permit.

To be eligible for housing benefits, the following criteria must be met:

  • the student applying must be a tenant paying rent to a landlord (evidence required);
  • the student is required to provide evidence that they are not merely "temporarily absent" from their parents' home and
  • a nomination must be made of a guarantor living in Germany, who would be required to pay the benefits back to the local welfare department if need be.

Decisions concerning housing benefits to be granted to private persons, as well as their amount, are made on a case-by-case basis. It is advisable to gather information before an application is made. Assistance is offered by the social counselling service of the student welfare organisation (Studierendenwerk) (► 8.2.5) or by the local housing offices of the local administration (Bezirksamt). Information on dealing with housing benefits granted by the City of Berlin is available in German (Wohngeld der Stadt Berlin mit Wohngeldantrag).

The following documents must be presented along with an application:

  • passport with valid residence permit;
  • tenancy contract;
  • receipts of rent payment, including amount paid, names of beneficiary of the payment and payee and
  • evidence of income (e.g. money received for maintenance, grants or scholarships; documentation of foreign scholarships to be presented with authenticated German translation).