Initial Reception Centre

After your arrival in Hamburg, you receive a proof of arrival and a place in the Zentralen Erstaufnahme (ZEA) at either Bargkoppelweg 66a or Bargkoppelstieg 10-14. Here you are registered, undergo a medical examination and apply for asylum. You will find out quickly whether you are to stay in Hamburg or be transferred to another German state.

Usually, you will be taken to another initial reception centre after a few days. Accommodation generally takes place in residential containers.

During the initial reception process, you live with other refugees, receive a personal allowance, non-cash benefits (meals, clothing, etc.) and medical care. There are also child-care and classroom facilities on-site.

When you are applying for asylum, you must first live in an initial reception centre (generally for a maximum of 18 months).

Public Secondary Accommodations

Since sufficient accommodation is not immediately available for those entitled to asylum and recognised refugees, you will live with other refugees in secondary accommodations. Even Hamburg residents who have lost their apartment first live in public accommodations.

These include residential containers, modular houses, pavilions and permanent dwellings.

Families (and couples) stay together if possible.

In the meantime, there is also accommodation that is structured like a proper flat: six people live in three rooms with a refrigerator, cooker, shower and toilet. Those travelling alone share the rooms, as in a flat share. A secondary accommodation offers a little more privacy than previously and there is counselling available onsite and contact to neighbours and volunteers.

During the stay in the secondary accommodation, you shop for yourself and take care of your household. Children and adolescents go to day care or school, while adults take German and integration courses.
You can find more information on the topics “Learning German” ( and “Work and education” ( on our website.

The Sozialmanagement (social management) in your accommodation help you find the correct office and contact person. Often, there is also contact with volunteers and neighbours who would be happy to come with you to the offices and help you out.

Please contact the Sozialmanagement in the event of a problem in your accommodation.

Moving into your own apartment

As an individual with right to asylum or a recognised refugee (with a residence permit of at least one year), you have unrestricted access to the housing market like all Germans.

When you earn enough money – that is, when have your own income – you are responsible for paying the rent for a flat or room.

If you do not have an income, you can apply for social benefits for your livelihood and rent at the Jobcenter or at the Fachamt für Grundsicherung und Soziales (Office for Basic Security Benefits and Social Affairs) To qualify for this, the flat cannot be too large or too expensive. After your approval, you must comply with existing limits for rental prices. You can find these here:

Sometimes the rent will be paid for refugees with a Aufenthaltsgestattung or a Duldung. There are specific regulations for this. Your case worker will explain everything to you.

If your application is rejected, it is best to request a written justification.

Even after the approval of a residence status, you must maintain your residence in the state responsible for your asylum process (e.g. in Hamburg) for three years. The residency requirement may be waived if alternate places of residence provide certain benefits when it comes to integration. This may be the case if you or a family member gets a job, starts an apprenticeship or attends university. Again, your case worker can explain this to you.

Finding a Place to Live

Your first point of contact for finding a flat is the Sozialmanagement in the accommodation. They will help with contact addresses, tips and guides and have a great network of volunteers who can guide you through the required steps on request.

Generally, the first step is to go to the Fachstellen für Wohnungsnotfälle (Office of Emergency Accommodation). Among other things, this office provides homeless people with publicly sponsored accommodation in private housing. In addition to homeless citizens of Hamburg, this also includes those with right to asylum and recognised refugees with good prospects of permanent residence. In a personal consultation, the office will develop an assistance plan with you and offer support in the search for housing, which includes the provision of a Dringlichkeitsbestätigung (an acknowledgement of urgency) at no cost. This guarantees you an advantage when looking for a place to live.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to find a flat in Hamburg. There are few empty flats and at the same time many people who would like to move in.

Private Accommodation

After your approval, you can also look for an flat on your own, of course. To do so, you can use either online portals for finding accommodation or the mediation services of Hamburg institutions.

When using the online portals, you contact the landlords directly. A short request is sufficient for the first contact. Here is an example:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am interested in the flat. When is it possible to see the place? Please let me know.

Kind regards,

First Name Last Name

Before the visit, request a list of documents that you need to bring. When looking for a flat on your own, be sure to comply with the rental price limits. When you and the landlord are in agreement, ask them for a confirmation. Take this to the job centre, where they will ensure that the conditions are met, and provide you with a separate confirmation for the landlord. This lets you and the landlord conclude a tenancy agreement and your landlord can hand over the keys.

Online Portals and Hamburg Mediation Services

Hamburg Mediation Services:

Wohnbrücke Hamburg: http://www.wohnbrü

Flüchtlinge Willkommen: Fördern und Wohnen:

Fördern und Wohnen: 

There is also the “Ankommen” app, which can help answer questions about everyday life, but also provides information for dealing with authorities and organisational problems:

The Dialogforum Wohnen also provides an overview of important information and answers to frequently asked questions:

Online Portals:




Everything to know about rent in Germany

1. What is rent?

If you occupy a residence for a restricted period of time, then you are the tenant of that residence. The person with whom you entered into the tenancy agreement is the landlord.

Renting a room or a flat means that you have a right to use the residence for the duration of the agreement. The room or flat does not belong to you, however. Before moving in, you should therefore learn about the house rules and any responsibilities you may have as tenant. This could include a heating requirement or restrictions on conversions and renovations of the apartment.

In return, however, you also have rights as a tenant. For the duration of the rent, the landlord may e.g. only enter the flat with your permission, except in exceptional cases.

2. What should I pay attention to?

When entering into a tenancy agreement, you should check whether or not it is temporary, i.e. specifies a fixed date for the end of the tenancy. In addition, you should check the flat for any existing defects and document them together with your landlord, so that you cannot be held responsible for these later.

If you want to end the rental of the flat, you must submit a notice in writing to your landlord.

3. Important terms

Rent: the contractually regulated use of a place of residence for a period of time (rent also refers to the money that the tenant pays to the landlord for this use).

Tenant: the individual who has the right to use the place of residence, as specified by the contract. The tenant may live in the residence for the duration of the rental period but does not own the residence. A tenants may be any person of any gender.

Landlord: generally, the owner of the property. You enter into the tenancy agreement with the landlord and they let you reside in the apartment. The landlord is also your point of contact in the event that there are problems or defects in the flat. A landlord may be any person of any gender.

Contract: the tenancy agreement is a contract that authorises you to use the flat. The contract represents the agreement that you, as tenant, pay rent and the landlord makes the flat available to you.

Fixed-term agreement: a tenancy with a fixed end date that is specified in the contract.

Termination: if you do not have a fixed-term agreement but want to move out, you must terminate the rental contract in writing. Termination is the written notification of this cessation to the landlord. Usually, the contract ends three months after termination at the end of the month.

Zuletzt aktualisiert: 26.07.2018

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