An overview of often used words in Berlin housing ads

Are you confused what AB, NB, HH, Schufa or Untermiete means? We explain often used words and abbreviations in housing ads.


This post was last updated on July 29, 2020
A newspaper with real estate ads

Apartment type

  • Altbau or AB: old building from roughly before 1940. Many of these old buildings don't have elevators and even the ground floor might only be accessible by stairs.
  • Neubau or NB: built after 1945. Now watch out here: if possible Berliners avoid buildings built in the 50ies and 60ies because many of those after war constructions are of poor quality and can be noisy with low ceilings. This changes for more recent buildings like everything constructed after 1990 probably is more solid and of a higher standard.
    A new building can also be a so called Plattenbau which referes to a skyscraper of poor quality. There are many of these buildings in the eastern parts like Lichtenberg or Marzahn but similar buildings can be found all over the city.

Floor of the apartment

  • Untergeschoss: basement.
  • Erdgeschoss or Parterre: ground floor.
  • First floor: first floor is not the ground floor but the floor on top of the ground floor.
  • Etagenwohnung: can be a flat on any floor except ground floor or attic.
  • Dachgeschoss: attic. In Berlin usually the 4th or 5th floor.

Location of the apartment inside the building

  • Vorderhaus or VH: street facing side of the building
  • Hinterhaus or HH: building in the backyard, behind the street facing building
  • Seitenflügel or SF: building on the right or left side of the backyard.

Furnished vs unfurnished apartments

  • Möbliert: furnished apartment – many temporary and private sublet contracts come with furniture from the tenant in the flat. There are real estate agencies focusing on fully equipped flats, see our guide on renting furnished apartments in Berlin.
  • Unmöbliert: unfurnished apartment – long term leases most of the time come without any furniture. Often there is not even kitchen furniture included but in most cases there is a kitchen sink (but not always!) and the bath room has a shower or a bath tube and a toilet.

Other housing ad terminology

  • Vermieter: landlord.
  • Keller: basement. Usually big enough for a couple of bikes.
  • Einbauküche or EBK: the apartment comes with a furnished kitchen (sink, counter, drawers).
  • Balkon: balcony.
  • Mietkaution: deposit – you have to pay 3 months of the rent as deposit which is put on a separate bank account and the money can neither be touched by the landlord nor the tenant until the contract is terminated. You can calculate the deposit by multiplying the Kaltmiete by 3. Kaltmiete means the total amount of monthly rent payments minus the costs for cleaning, heater, hot water etc. See our guide for opening a bank account.
  • Kaltmiete: the cost of the flat without anciliary/housing costs like heating, cleaning, trash disposal etc.
  • Warmmiete: the costs of the flat plus the anciliary costs.
  • Nebenkosten or NK: sometimes also called Betriebskosten or BK – costs for waste disposal, cleaning of the building, heating, hot water, waste water, elevator, lights in the stairs and the basement.

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