Looking for an apartment in Berlin? Then you will need a Schufa. But what is it?
Schufa is basically a company that offers a credit rating service.
Then, why does every landlord or housing company require you to have one?
A simple answer is that it’s almost impossible for landlords to kick people out of apartments here. Renters in Germany have so many rights and protection under law that they can even stop paying rent for months and the landlord still won’t have the power to evict them.
One thing landlords can do to defend themselves against problem tenants is to give them a negative credit rating. This is how Schufa has become a required part of the apartment application process. By inspecting your credit rating, a landlord or housing company can see if you have any history of abusing the system.
So this is what a Schufa is: it’s a credit rating check that lets potential landlords know that you’ve never previously tried to screw the system. It’s a clean bill of health.
How do I get a Schufa?
Even if you’ve just moved here and don’t have any credit history in Germany, you’ll have to shoulder this cost. You’ll also need to have already registered in Berlin and opened a German bank account to place your order.
Getting your credit checked is not a one-time thing.
When applying for an apartment, you will need to show your current credit data to the landlord. An old Schufa won’t do. This means you will probably have to pay the 29,95 € every time you find yourself looking for a new apartment (which… hopefully isn’t often. I’ve only needed to do it once so far in five years).
An alternative (especially if you find yourself being asked for credit checks often) would be to become a member of Schufa. The company offers many plans which charge on a low monthly rate but offer you drastically discounted credit checks whenever you need them, plus give you access to the company’s other services too.
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