Renting in Luxembourg

16 Nov
2010

So you’ve decided to move to the Grand Duchy. You’re not put off by its tiny size, in fact you think it’s cute and cuddly. But then you start looking into renting in Luxembourg. Suddenly the country has transformed into a vast, tangled thicket of weird names and strange terms. What do charges mean? Why does this neighbourhood have two different spellings? How in Jeebus’ name am I supposed to pick a needle from this haystack?

Never fear! First, take comfort in the fact that nearly every area of Luxembourg is a pleasant and safe place to live. There are very few “bad” areas chockful of, let’s say, drug dealers, prostitutes and hoodies. So unless that’s a vibe you’re looking for, you’re best to concentrate on priorities such as closeness to the city centre, location of local school, bus times, and so on.

Next, arm yourself with a map of Luxembourg. (Google Maps is a favourite of mine.) The majority of people live in the south of the country, also known as the Gutland. If you fancy living it up in the capital, get to know the names of the areas around it; however if it’s more important that you have a big place and/or a garden, or you’re on a budget, you might want to look further afield.

Then, take a look at some accommodation websites in Luxembourg. A non-exhaustive list is:

Athome
Immotop
Luxweb
Immofinder (includes ads from the Wort newspaper)

Accommodation agencies are called immobilieres, sale listings are under “acheter” or “vente” and rental listings are under “louer” or “location”. You may have to visit the agent’s website or contact their office to learn the exact address, and you could be asked to sign a letter beforehand stating that you will not approach the landlord directly. Most apartments in Luxembourg are unfurnished and come with a cave (cellar) where you can stash your booze, suitcases, chest freezer and so on. Some also include a communal laundry room (blanchisserie) with a spot for your washing machine and dryer.

Parking

Most houses and some apartments will have a garage or parking space for your car. If you’re living within the Luxembourg city limits and there’s no parking space you can get a vignette (sticker) which allows you to park for free in the area you live. Ask the Biergercenter for this when you register.

Contracts

Rental contracts in Luxembourg can be one, two or three years in duration. If you do not have a permanent job, ask for a diplomatic clause to be added to the contract; if you move country you can break your contract without penalty. They are usually in French; if you’re concerned about what you’re signing, contact an English-speaking notaire (solicitor) to go over the contract with you.

Charges

If you’re looking for apartments, you will probably see mention of “charges“. Most Luxembourgish apartment blocks charge each apartment a flat fee for the use of heating and hot water; this fee is paid alongside the monthly rent. At the end of the year your use of the facilities is tallied, and you may receive a rebate or be charged extra. These charges can change yearly therefore they’re advertised separately to the rent.

Deposits

Most landlords require two or three months’ rent as a deposit, which is a huge amount to hand over all at once! However you probably won’t be asked for landlord references etc. Not much of a comfort when your bank balance is wiped in one day I know.

Agent fees

Unfortunately, for some reason which makes as much sense to me as Justin Bieber’s massive popularity, it’s the tenants who are expected to pay the agency fees. Expect to pay a month’s rent plus VAT, and to live off baked beans for the rest of the month. You can avoid this fee if you go the private route, where the landlord hasn’t employed an agent and instead advertised their property directly.

Dealing with agencies

If like me you’ve come from a country where a hard sell goes hand in hand with customer service, you might find it strange when agencies don’t return your phone calls for days or aren’t flexible with their hours. Yes, you might need to work on your nagging skills but you’ll rarely feel pressurised into choosing a place fast. You will usually be offered first refusal if someone viewed the property after you is interested. Don’t be surprised if the agent has invited other people along to your viewing, it’s quite common here.

Signing the contract

The exact depends on the agent and the landlord, but you will need to show your passport, work contract and proof of residence before you sign a contract. You’ll be given the agent or the landlord’s bank details to transfer the deposit, first month’s rent and the agency fee, you’ll have to show proof of these payments to get your keys. Ask your agent or landlord to have an inventory present so you can go through the property together and make note of any issues. Have the meters read at the same time.
Home insurance is obligatory in Luxembourg; shop around for a good price, but make sure that you are covered for contents and “risques locatifs”. If you have any concerns or questions, check with the agent or landlord.

Management agency

Some apartment blocks will have a management or service agent who takes care of the common areas, known as solugers. Ask the agent or landlord for the name and contact details of the company.

Utilities

Depending on the property, you will either need to have electricity, gas and water connected or be transferred into your name. The main supplier for electricity, gas and water in Luxembourg city is Leo Energy. For elsewhere a list of gas and electricity of suppliers is here, while for water contact your local commune. Some companies require a week’s notice to transfer utilities, so if you have any concerns discuss them with the agent or landlord before you sign the contract as communication may be slow after that.

Tip: If you will be dependent on public transport you might want to check out the area’s timetables for the local bus/train before you move there. Luxembourg city limit bus timetables are here, other area bus timetables are here, and national train times are listed here.

Best of luck with your search!

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