Put your name on doorbell and mailbox

Why?

If you live in an apartment by yourself or in a shared apartment with others, you have the right to a mailbox with your name on it and also to put your name on the front door/doorbell of the residency. With this you are able to receive post and visitors. Especially a mailbox with your name on it is important because you will need to be able to correspond with the public authorities. If you don’t have a mailbox with your name on it, for example, the the local power company who delivers your electricity may not find your box and will raise prices (exact information will follow soon).

How / What Is Allowed?

It is only allowed to put the name of the person on the doorbell and the mailbox who is listed in the tenancy agreement. It is not allowed, for example, to put a name of a friend or a family member on the doorbell in order to aid them in receiving post if they are not part of the tenancy agreement. If you are doing this, the landlord may require you to remove these names immediately if wished.

Who Puts The Name On The Doorbell/Mailbox?

There is no general law in Germany defining who exactly is in charge for this task. This is why we recommend you to ask your landlord or janitor when you move in who normally puts your name on the mailbox and front door/doorbell.

Dorm Living

If you live in a dorm, you will not have to deal with putting your name on the doorbell, the front door or the mailbox. One of the advantages of living there is that the janitor of the dorm will take care of everything. The day you move into the dorm, the janitor will attach your name on everything relevant and will also remove it the day you move out. 

Night Rest Silence “Nachtruhe”
In Germany there is a nationwide nights-rest silence beginning at 10 PM and ending at 6 AM. It applies for everyone living in an apartment, house or a housing block. There is even a law for it which should ensure a proper rest during the night for all citizens. During this silence period, your sounds or noises should not be heard from outside of your apartment, house or room. And like always, when a law exists you can get penalized if it’s violated. It can start with a personal visit from police officers who impound your music system and can escalate at the highest fine of 5000 € if neighbors keep complaining.To be on the safe side, reduce the volume after 10 PM or just use your headphones.
If Others Are Too Loud
From time to time, you might be the neighbor annoyed by someone else’s noises (e.g. loud music). In this case, you also have the right to insist on your nights rest. It is important to act in a suitable and responsible manner.

1. Go over to the person’s place or apartment who is causing the disturbance, be proactive and look for a dialogue with them. This is a barrier you may need to overcome and especially due to the language barrier it can be a challenge to describe your intentions to them. Try to manage this situation in a smooth and simple way.  Sometimes, as we all know, one doesn’t really know how loud one really is but with a friendly conversation this can quickly be solved.

2. If your neighbor seems to be unable to be convinced and doesn’t want to turn down the volume of their music even after numerous requests, you have the right to call the police and ask for help. Firstly, you will need to describe your situation, they will come to your area and then have a talk with the bothering neighbor. If you would like to stay anonymous, you just need to tell this to the police beforehand.

If you are interested in the specific paragraph this can be found here in English in the Act on Regulatory Offences (Section 111-117).

Garbage Disposal Made Easy

Germany differs to other countries when it comes to garbage disposal. While it is common to throw any kind of trash in any bin of choice in many countries, this is not the case in Germany. Most of its citizens care about a detailed separation of waste. The reason for this is simple:

An efficient separation allows a further processing and use of almost any kind of material and resource which are included in the waste. Thereby actually worthless material obtains a new value and is usable again, for example for energy production through combustion or for recycling purposes. To be as efficient as possible with the separation of your own waste, below are details of how the waste separation system works in Germany.

The Four Bins

Usually every residence, no matter if private or dorm, has a separated area or room in which you can find four different types of containers for trash. Each of them have a different color and each of them are for different types of waste.

Bin TypesIn here belongsIn here doesn´t belongNote
Paper
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Blue or Green Bin

Everything made out of paper or cardboard as long as its clean. This bin is for newspapers, magazines, junk mail, writing paper, paper bags, leaflets, books, paper packaging, empty boxes and so on.Used sanitary paper, photographic paper, carbon paper, tampons, drink cartons, any kind of paper which is soiled (i.e. pizza boxes), coffee bags, wax paper, sandwich paper, parchment paper and any kind of paper which is coated or bonded.If there is any plastic attached (for example at envelopes) please separate that. To make sure that the bins can carry as much paper as possible, please flatten boxes of any kind before disposing of them in the bins. Sometimes the bin at your residence is not blue but green. Just be aware of that possibility.
Biological (Bio)
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Brown Can
Organic waste, napkins, any kind of vegetable peels and leftovers, coffee filters and ground, tea bags and filters, bush and grass cuttings, lawn, leaves, houseplants, human hair, feathers and animal hair/fur, flowers, old cheese and bread, spoiled food, nut shells and organic pet litter (hay, straw, wood shavings).Bones, vacuum cleaner bags, tampons, diapers, sanitary pads, ashes, mineral-based pet litter, cooked and prepared food, sausage and meat leftovers, dirt, plastic bags, fluids and cigarette ends.
Lightweight Packaging
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Yellow Can
Plastic material, cans, aluminum packaging, drinking and yogurt cartons, kitchen wrappers, shampoo and shower gel bottles, food containers, empty spray cans, vacuum-pack bags, styrofoam packaging, nets from citrus fruits or potatoes, aluminum foil, aerosol cans and tubes for toothpaste.Glass or paper or cardboard packaging, domestic waste, soiled containers, diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons, electronic devices and any plastic products which are not packaging such as toys, clothes and plant potsDue to its relevance we have elaborated this topic further below, so you won't have problems (fines) by accidentally making mistakes.
Residual
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Black or
Grey Can
Sweepings, used and filled vacuum cleaner bags, porcelain and pottery shards, cold ash, cigarette ends, light bulbs, hygiene waste, polluted textile residuals, broken or old household objects like pots, expired medication and soiled packaging.Organic waste, recyclable waste and electrical devices.Although the label "residual waste" of the Black/Grey bin implies that in here belongs everything which does not belong in the first three trash cans (Green/blue, yellow or brown), there are still some sorts of trash which needs to be disposed separately like glass, voluminous or bulky waste and hazardous waste.

Lightweight Packaging Additional Information– Yellow Bin

Note: Not every residence has a yellow can. In this case, you have to put all the lightweight packaging and plastic waste into a special yellow plastic bag (so called “Gelber Sack”). It depends on local regulations set by your township if you are required to use these special plastic bags for waste disposal or if you can use the yellow bin. It may differ from city to city whether to use the yellow plastic bag or the yellow bin. If you are not sure which way is suited for your residence, don’t hesitate to ask your landlord about it because this question is crucial for the correct disposal of lightweight packaging. If the bag is the way for you to dispose your waste and it is full, you have to place it at a certain spot at your residence where it’s collected at scheduled dates by the local waste company. The same applies here, if you don’t know where and when to put out the filled yellow bags, ask your landlord or neighbors about it. How do you get these plastic bags, and which are coiled when you get them? This differs from city to city. In some cities you can buy these bags in local kiosks, tobacco shops, gas stations and supermarkets; in other cities you have to go to the town hall or the citizen service center; and some are distributed by the local waste disposal company. Make sure to ask your landlord about what your city does and to ensure you know how it works at your residence.

Image: Filled up yellow plastic bags at a public spot in a neighborhood ready for the pick-up by the local waste company

Glass and Bottles – With and Without Deposit

The disposal of glass works separately from the other four mentioned waste bins. There is a separate system with separate cans when it comes to glass and bottles. You have to distinguish between the types of bottles which you can throw away and the types of bottles for which you can get a deposit back when bringing them to the returning point. Better not throw them away in the regular trash!

  • Glass waste without deposit – non returnable bottles, jam jars, food containers made out of glass

During everyday consumption you will gather up many different types of bottles and jars, i.e. wine bottles, jam jars, sauce jars, preserved food jars or juice bottles. These glass types belong to freely accessible bottle banks. Every city has spots with three or four different bottle banks. Usually there is one dedicated to glass waste for each of the more common glass colors, and means you will have to sort your glass by color before you throw them in the bin.

Image: From left to the right: White glass, green glass, brown glass

Please keep in mind: Use these bottle banks only for non-reusable bottles and glass. It is  also recommended to throw your glass waste in the bottle banks during their usage period. This means you should not throw glass in the bottle banks after 10 PM on Monday- Saturday or at all on Sundays.

  • Glass and plastic waste with deposit (Pfand) – beer bottles and bottles of certain soft drinks

When buying glass/plastic bottles of beer or other beverages with the sign/logo “Pfand” (next to the barcode) you will need to pay a deposit on top of the original price. The deposit (“Pfand”) can vary between 8 and 25 Cents (why?). Once finished with your beverage you can bring it back to any supermarket or to a Pfand machine / returning point.

Pfand logo:

Returning point / Pfand machine:

Rest: Batteries, furniture, chemical or acidic products

Just about 80-90% of your daily waste will belong to one of the mentioned categories above (Bio, plastic, glass…), however there are still some exceptions explained below.

  • Batteries

Batteries of any kind do not belong in the regular trash because they contain acid. You have to dispose them in small single boxes which you can find at the entrance of supermarkets, shops or hardware stores (i.e. OBI).

  • Bulky waste

This includes every movable furnishing like cabinets, chairs, sofas, mattresses, TVs, microwaves, refrigerators, washing machines, toasters, coffee machines, irons and computers.

Not included: Floorings, carpets, room doors, wallpapers or other wall covers.

Recommended bulky waste disposal methods:

a) Public collection of bulky waste

Two to four times a year there is a public gathering of bulky waste for citizens in every city. For that, your city council announces a date on which you can put your bulky waste on the sidewalk in front of the house (usually you will find a short note on a piece of paper on your door a couple of weeks before). It is common to bring out the bulky waste the night before in order to avoid missing the collection.

b) Bring the bulky waste to the trash company

Every city has its own recycling center, typically located in the outskirts of your city. You can bring any bulky waste to the center anytime outside of the public collections dates. Be aware that these recycling centers have limited opening hours and you will need a vehicle to transport your waste to the location. To find out the location and the opening hours of the recycling center in your city, just Google “Wertstoffhof” or “Recyclinghof” + [the name of your city].

  • Chemical or acid products and everything not belonging to one of the mentioned categories

If you renovate your apartment completely meaning changing the wallpaper, the flooring, carpets, doors, having some leftover/old paint, then it is highly recommended to bring these materials to the local recycling center afterward. The same applies to hazardous waste like insecticides, paint thinner, motor oil, adhesives, any other kinds of acid or chemical waste and old cars. Anything too bulky or hazardous and anything which does not belong in any of the regular household trash bins should be brought to your local recycling center. Be aware that these recycling centers have limited opening hours and that you need a vehicle to transport your waste to the location. To find out the location and the opening hours of the recycling center of your city, just Google “Wertstoffhof” or “Recyclinghof” + [the name of your city].

Drinking Water In Germany
In Germany, tap water is generally very clean, pure and has a good to very good quality. Drinking water gets checked periodically by the state and public health officials. It must meet the requirements of the drinking water ordinance. Compared to bottled water it is significantly and strictly monitored more often. The German government wants to ensure that the water for the daily use is free of pathogens and harmful substances. This is done by an extensive testing during the whole process of abstraction, purification and distribution. It is more likely that a supermarket-bought bottle of water has a worse quality and is more expensive than tap water. For the cheapest single bottle of water (1,5 liters) you have to pay around 20 cents (and the bottle deposit “Pfand”). If you want to drink clean water and also save money, don’t hesitate to use the tap as your daily source of water.

For further information about the water conditions, its quality, origin, supply chain and the water resource management in Germany, please feel free to check the following links from the Federal Office for Environment Germany.

 Written by Benjamin Bodinus