Unemployed people receive benefits in Germany from the job-seekers’ insurance scheme in order to cover the costs of life support. The benefits are called Arbeitslosengeld II or ALG II and are known colloquially under the term “Hartz IV”. The level of the control services for the ALG II is determined by the control requirement. This defines how much money is needed to cover the necessities of everyday life, such as food, clothing, etc., which are necessary for life support.

An apartment or accommodation is also part of these everyday needs. However, the costs are not included in the standard requirement and are paid separately from the job center.

In principle, the cost of accommodation and heating will be borne in the amount of the actual expenses if they are reasonable. This is regulated by law according to § 22 SGB II.

The assumption of rent and incidental costs is tied to certain conditions for Hartz IV recipients. They are based on the appropriateness of the dwelling and the local guidelines of the cities and municipalities. This appropriateness is examined at the time of application. Since the amount of housing costs and the conditions vary according to the residential area, there is no federal regulation, which often raises many questions for service providers.

Info: When paying the costs of accommodation and heating (KdU), Hartz IV is not entitled to a claim for housing!

Payment of rent to Hartz IV receivers

The cash payment for the rent of the apartment is paid to the service provider. Payment is to be made with the circulation appropriately for the amount made available for it. If this can not be guaranteed, the jobcenter can also pay the rental fee directly to the landlord of the apartment. Beneficiaries can usually choose when submitting applications:

  1. they receive the cash payment in the case of the accommodation and heating costs of the service provider and want to pay to the landlord according to the rental contract or
  2. whether the money is to be transferred directly from the service provider to the landlord.

Rental security as Hartz IV receivers

The deposit must be requested by the beneficiary before the change of residence. The deposit is provided by the cost-bearer as a loan and must be repaid to the job center. As a rule, 10 percent of the standard rate will be withheld until the loan is paid by the monthly installments.

Size of a Hartz IV apartment

In principle, the cost of the apartment can be borne in the amount of the actual expenses if they are reasonable. A suitable Hartz IV apartment may be up to 50 m² in size for one person. Each additional member of a community of need is entitled to 15 m², with newborns not counting as a person and their claim to 15 m² of living space is taken into account only as a child (from the first birthday).

The following table shows the size of a suitable flat for Hartz IV recipients, how the living space varies according to the size of the needs community and the size allowed by Jobcenter for an apartment:

Size of the community of needLiving space
Single personup to 50 m²
2-people needs communityup to 65 m²
3-people needs communityup to 75 m²
4-people needs communityup to 90 m²
for each additional member of the needs community+15m²

Amount of rental costs

The costs for an adequate accommodation are not clearly defined in the Act and, as already mentioned in the first paragraph, are based on the local guidelines of the cities and municipalities, since one can not equate the rent level of a rural region with an urban region. For a rural area of ​​up to 5 euros per square meter, and for a large city, for example, 9,00 Euro. Please contact your local employment office, the jobcenters or the local authority for the appropriate price per square meter. These offices are usually based on current local guidelines for reasonable housing costs.

Thus, for example, a single apartment in Berlin with an area of ​​50 m² up to € 450.00 is considered appropriate. In Munich, on the other hand, up to € 600.00 is considered appropriate for 50 m² because of the higher square meter price.
The rental costs below the local guidelines are usually taken over by the cost carriers, whereby the leasing costs do not matter how low the rental costs are, as long as they are within the issued guidelines.

Transfer of incidental costs

For the recipient of the Hartz IV benefits, ancillary costs of an apartment are borne by the cost carriers as part of the cost of accommodation and heating. According to § 22 SGB II, however, there are exceptions.

The additional costs are generally divided into hot water, heating, electricity and other basic charges. While the costs of the basic duties have to be borne by the office, as well as the heating costs, the costs for electricity and hot water are not covered. These are to be borne by the Hartz IV standard requirement.

Years annual statement – final payment of additional costs

Once a year, the so-called annual accounts are due for tenants. Should Hartz IV recipients receive a supplementary payment, this must also be paid by the Jobcenter. However, the cost assumption is also subject to adequacy. In the case of inappropriate payment of additional costs, on the other hand, costs can be refused or restricted. However, Hartz IV recipients can not lose their apartment due to unreasonable incidental costs, the Jobcenter can grant the additional payment as a loan. The money then has to be repaid in installments (monthly 10% of the rule rate).

What is considered appropriate is, as with the amount of the rent, according to local regulations. There is no federal regulation.

Additional requirements for hot water expenses

For an apartments in which the hot water is processed locally, ie in the own living room, additional requirements can be claimed, since the costs are not regulated according to § 22 SGB II and are covered by the regular services. The application for the additional demand for the so-called decentralized water supply must be submitted with certain proofs to the job center. In addition to the certificate for decentralized water treatment, the landlord must also provide a cost overview of the consumption values for electricity or gas in the water heater or boiler. The additional requirement for hot water costs is based on the requirements of § 20 SGB II and the corresponding percentages pursuant to § 21 para. 7 SGB II. The age and the residential situation of the beneficiary are taken into account.

Starting from the Hartz IV rule requirement 2017, the following flat rates for the additional demand result from the hot water costs:

Regulatory requirementWho?PercentageFlat rate
409€Adult / single / disabled2,30%9,41 €
368€Adult partner in the needs community2,30%8,46 €
327€Adult under 25 years2,30% 7,52 €
311€Child 15 – 18 years1,40%4,35 €
291€Child  7 – 14 years1,20%3,49 €
237€Child 0 – 6 years0,80%1,90 €

Hartz IV: Assistance with rental debts

Hartz IV recipients who have leasing obligations can apply for a loan at the Jobcenter. According to SGB II, Hartz IV recipients are thus able to settle the debts against the landlord and to secure the livelihood and the associated housing. The loan is repaid to the job center by a reduction of 10% of the monthly rate.

In the case of service contractors who have received a clearance, the rental fee and the housing situation must be agreed with the landlord beforehand. Hartz IV recipients can have the transfer of the rent also paid directly from the job center to the landlord.

Subsidy for trainees

Trainees who receive vocational training or training allowances under SGB III or BAföG can receive a subsidy to the uncovered costs of the accommodation upon request.

Own apartment for Hartz 4 recipients under 25 years

Hartz IV beneficiaries who wish to obtain their own apartment from the parental household must pay attention to additional special features: The rent and heating costs for the new accommodation will be paid for unmarried couples before their 25th year of age, exclusively by means of a corresponding cost benefit from the cost center (Jobcenter , ARGE).

Provision  for the accommodation costs

The commitment is granted only in exceptional cases, e.g. If it is proven that serious social reasons are against the stay in the parental home or the move seems appropriate to the integration into the labor market. For example, if the place of activity is too far from the place of residence.

Without costs, the Hartz IV services can be significantly reduced.

A non-existent – prior cost allowance – is only permissible if the request for an important reason was not reasonable.

Download the application form

The cost of accommodation and heating – System KDU (PDF).

Further informations about reallocation of Hartz IV receiver.