Shared apartment

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Room offers and requests for shared accommodation on a notice board in Berlin

The word residential community ( WG for short ) describes the coexistence of several independent, mostly unrelated people in one apartment . Bathroom , kitchen and possibly also a living room are used together.

In few other countries, this form of living is as widespread as in Northern Europe, Germany , Austria and Switzerland , where since the 1960s, students in particular have come together in shared apartments. Dutch woongroepen (" living groups") are in some cases comparable to communitarian communities , while student dormitories are called studentenhuizen (literally "student houses"). In the US campus universities, too, students usually live together in dormitories, some of which are self-organized as student housing cooperatives . In England , young people often share a row house as a house community .

Flat-sharing communities whose residents do not have the goal of maintaining a friendly atmosphere are also called Zweck-WG or Kommunalka .


Models for living communities in private households have been and are many in all cultures. The idea of ​​sharing an apartment as non-relatives for cost reasons already existed in the 19th century; literary evidence is found in Arthur Conan Doyle's novels , which marked the beginning of the friendship between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson describes it as a purely purpose-built flat share. After the Second World War, shared apartments were inevitably to be found quite often in Germany, because on the one hand large parts of the residential buildings were destroyed and on the other hand many refugees and displaced persons from the former eastern areas had to be accommodated. In the wake of the economic miracle , the housing shortage decreased due to reconstruction and new construction, so that such rather involuntary residential communities dissolved. An increase in western residential communities has been observed since the 1960s. Older people who do not want to be alone are also increasingly living in shared apartments.

Sociological Aspects

Today one differentiates colloquially the "purpose-shared flat", whose residents usually live together for reasons of cost savings, in which community life plays a subordinate role, from the "non-purpose flat-share", in which personal relationships, joint ventures and the community the roommates are more in the foreground. A shared flat can also arise due to similar interests (subject, profession, etc.).

The hierarchy in shared apartments is mostly flat, although of course age , duration of the flat share and above all the character of each member can create a certain hierarchy. Since every social relationship between people is bound up with certain rules, duties (e.g. cleanliness, shared use of rooms and devices) can certainly lead to greater tensions; on the other hand, friendships can develop through acceptance and mutual getting to know each other in the everyday environment .

In some cases, flat-share-like forms of living are also created by different unrelated persons or by couples from different generations , such as multi-generation houses , multi -generation projects , or with parents or siblings, multi-generation households in the form of extended families .

Types of coexistence

In the beginning, mainly students and trainees lived in shared apartments, primarily to share the rent and thus save money. Another reason is the frequent change of location in this phase of life, which is contrary to a longer-term rental agreement. Nowadays, working people are increasingly living in shared apartments (Zweck-WG). Working people and newcomers live together and make private and sometimes business contacts. This form is particularly important for people who often change their place of work and do not stay in one city for long. Most of the people living in shared apartments are between their early twenties and early 30. After that, the family or living together as a couple often take over from the shared apartment. Exceptions are "shared apartments for single parents" and "senior citizens' shared apartments".

In a “shared flat for single parents” or a “shared flat with children”, the residents can support each other with childcare and thus relieve themselves financially. Shared apartments are becoming an alternative to living in old age. As senior citizens of the same age live in a “ senior citizens' flat-sharing community ”, they remain independent, but live in a community. As a mixed concept, there is also the “multi-generation flat share”. The "Plus-WG" distinguishes itself from the senior citizens' flat share or the assisted living concept . The plus stands for an age from 50 years; they are elderly people who do not need any external help for life. While several residents share an apartment in a classic flat-sharing community, the members of a “Plus-WG” often each have their own apartment in a shared house.

Furthermore , shared apartments with professional care were set up for disabled people , the mentally ill and senior citizens . These are intended to offer people who are unable to live alone an opportunity to lead a life with the greatest possible independence outside of homes or hospitals. For people with senile dementia , the so-called dementia flat share is a possible form of living and care.

A special form of living-sharing community is in the context of “Living for Help” projects, in which young people support the elderly or families and receive affordable housing from them.

Legal Aspects

Drafting the rental agreement

Civil law aspect : Shared apartments are not expressly regulated in the German Civil Code . Therefore, different civil law constructions of the lease are conceivable:

A main tenant and subtenant

A resident of the shared apartment acts as the main tenant who concludes the rental agreement with the landlord. The individual roommates each conclude a sublease agreement with the main tenant . As a rule, this is only possible after the landlord's approval, if the main rental agreement excludes subletting. This construction gives the main tenant a privileged position with extensive rights and obligations: He is the (only) contractual partner of the landlord.

In practical terms, this has the disadvantage for the main tenant, compared to individual rental agreements between the landlord and tenant, that he has to fulfill all of the obligations from the overall rental agreement. The main tenant is (only) liable to the landlord for payment of the entire rent. If the sub-tenants do not pay their rent (on time), he is solely responsible . In general, the main tenant also bears the liability risk for the rented property towards the landlord and must be responsible for compliance with the house rules by his sub-tenants (= roommates). As an advantage for the main tenant, it can be stated that he can terminate some of his flatmates (possibly without notice) and is relatively free in the design of the sublease contract. In addition, only the main tenant himself can bring the entire rental agreement to fall by giving notice to the landlord. Upon termination of the main tenancy agreement but the main tenant must ensure that he and the sub-leases with his roommates (on time) announces , as he could make this pay damages against otherwise.

The lodgers have though that they stick in such a construction the advantage of only the main tenant owes contractual. However, the sub-tenant has the disadvantage that he has no right of residence vis-à-vis the landlord if the main lease has been terminated (or has expired).

Finally, the landlord always has a fixed contact person (e.g. when changing sub-tenants) when it comes to rent payments etc.

A possible disadvantage of this construction can be difficulties when the main tenant changes residence: If the main tenant moves out, but the sub-tenants still want to live in the apartment, either a new contract must be concluded with the main landlord or one of the sub-tenants must be included in the existing lease between the main landlord and Enter the main tenant (i.e. take over the contract). Due to the general freedom of contract (conclusion), however, the main landlord is not obliged to conclude a new rental agreement with one of the sub-tenants or to consent to the contract being taken over (entry) by one of the sub-tenants. For this reason, it is advisable to agree an entry clause in favor of the sub-tenant with the main tenant before signing the main rental agreement and to include this in the contract. This is the only way to ensure that the sub-tenants can actually stay in the apartment should the main tenant move out. According to Austrian law, there is also a charge for taking over a contract as well as the conclusion of a new rental contract, which is usually to be taken over by the tenant and can amount to a few hundred euros.

Several main tenants in one lease

All residents of the flat share are main tenants. This means that everyone has the same obligations towards the landlord. However, decisions by the tenant are usually to be made jointly and unanimously. For example, the termination must be made jointly; a single roommate cannot terminate the rental agreement. If only one roommate wants to move out, an amendment agreement (“X enters into the existing rental agreement for Y”) can be made. Since this requires the cooperation or consent of the landlord, it is often difficult in practice. A so-called successor clause should therefore be included in the rental agreement from the outset . In principle, however, the landlord must agree to an exchange of the main tenants in a shared apartment. In addition, each individual main tenant is jointly and severally liable , i.e. for the entire contractual debt of the tenant towards the landlord.

Marriages and unions

As a rule, marriages and other partnerships do not come under the term “shared flat”. Short-term visits of up to six to eight weeks or the admission of a family member also not. The spouse may move in with the respective partner at any time, even without the consent of the landlord. Unmarried partners are considered to be third parties before the law and may have to be reported to the landlord.

For a non-marital partnership, however, the problem arises that the partner who is not a contractual partner is de facto legally dependent on the other partner. Because at the latest at the end of the partnership, the partner who is the main tenant can ask the other to move out of the apartment.

Legal relationship between roommates

It can be assumed that the tenants involved in a shared apartment regularly form a BGB internal company . The jointly pursued corporate purpose required for this is to enable people to live together in the jointly rented apartment. From the mostly only implied closed social contract , individual rights and obligations arising of the co-tenant with each other .

In the event that all co-tenants are main tenants, an internal agreement is conceivable about who has to pay what proportion of the total rent. Such an agreement does not change the liability in the external relationship ( joint and several liability in the case of main tenants ), but only has an internal effect. Another example is the obligation to follow a common cleaning plan. Also reciprocal protection obligations within the meaning of § 241 para. 2 BGB arising from the social contract.

Household and community of needs

A shared apartment can lead to the community being assessed as a community of need within the meaning of the SGB and / or as a household community within the meaning of the EStG , which can lead to reductions in benefits or higher taxation.

Statistical surveys

In its annual reports on official population statistics, the Federal Republic of Germany does not carry out any precise surveys on shared apartments. In the microcensus, residential communities are recorded as several one-person households. As a result, no reliable data on the distribution and importance of shared apartments and single households in Germany can be provided.

The proportion of people living in shared flats is only recorded for specific groups of the population. For example, the 17th social survey by the German Student Union came to the result that in 2003 around 22 percent of students (with a total of 2 million students, this is around 445,000) in the Federal Republic of Germany lived in shared apartments.

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of people living in shared apartments. In 2017, 4.92 million people lived in shared apartments in Germany.

See also


  • Steve B. Peinemann: Shared apartment. Problem or solution? 4th edition. Publisher Rita Hau, Hattersheim / Main 1975, DNB 945315449 .
  • David Thiele: Shared apartments for senior citizens and people with disabilities. Springer VS, 2016, ISBN 978-3-658-11774-0
  • T. Fischer, A. Worch, J. Nordheim, I. Wulff, J. Gräske, S. Meye, K. Wolf-Ostermann: Outpatient assisted living communities for old people in need of care - characteristics, development and influencing factors . In: Pflege ( Memento of May 13, 2012 in the Internet Archive ). 2011: 24 (2), pp. 97-109, doi: 10.1024 / 1012-5302 / a000105

Web links

Wiktionary: Wohngemeinschaft  - Explanation of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. § 33 TP 5 Fees Act ; VwGH October 16, 1989 88/15/0086 ; UFS October 8, 2004 RV / 3631-W / 02 .
  2. [1]
  3. [2]
  4. MSS-Saar - A to Z “Co-tenant: Wohngemeinschaft = BGB-Gesellschaft” ( Memento of the original from September 30, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach: Number of people in Germany who live with others in a shared flat (WG), from 2013 to 2017 (in millions). In: Methode AWA 2017. 2017, accessed on December 13, 2017 .