Let's start by getting into what exactly a 'Verbindliche Mietabsichtserklaerung'.
A Verbindliche Mietabsichtserklaerung is a legally binding commitment that states that upon signing, you accept the obligation to rent the premises that the agreement refers to, provided you have been selected by the contract issuer. Some people see this agreement as a trap; a trap that many non German natives as well as German natives have fallen for. The main reason people fall for this is the real estate market on a whole. Finding an apartment in Germany may be extraordinarily difficult. Germans and English speakers alike, go from one available apartment to the next, they're presented with paperwork upon paperwork. Fill your name in here, your income here, your date of birth, and the list of information goes on and on. After a while it becomes a mundane routine. You get used to having to sign forms whenever you do a viewing, you turn it in, go home and cross your fingers. So one day when you're presented with a Verbindliche Mietabsichtserklaerung, it doesn't click to you that this isn't the same generic piece of paper you've been signing time and time again. Some real estate agents won't even get into detail about what penalties these agreements may bring with them. Instead, they'll find a cunning way, to introduce what it is, without you being fully aware of how final things can be with just a tiny piece of paper. And so, you sign, and turn it in, just like you've done numerous times before.
But what happens when luck kicks in and three of the apartments (including the one with the Verbindliche Mietabsichtserklaerung) that you've applied for are all ready and waiting for you?
You think you have a choice to make. Of course, you'll pull out your camera and look at all the pictures to see which of those three apartments are the best fit for you. Except, it's not that simple. By signing the Verbindliche Mietabsichtserklaerung, you've already agreed that if it becomes available to you, then you will take it. But now, after looking back at the pictures of the apartments, that one that your bound to, is the one you least prefer.
Perhaps you've found out what the agreement really means when you're contacted by the realtor, and your told that taking the apartment isn't a decision you'll have to make, it's one you've already made.
What do you do now?
- Regardless of how frustrating being in the situation may seem, try to stay calm and be nice. Contact the realtor and ask if there were other candidates that he or she could possibly get back in touch with.
- Contact your lawyer and find out if it's worth fighting. Using the language barrier may or may not work. Perhaps your lawyer can figure out another loophole.
- Rent the apartment for the minimum time possible.
Remember to read, re-read and have someone else (native speaker) read, every and any document you are being prompted to sign. It may seem silly at the time, but may save you a lot of stress in the long run.