Private Owners the Leading Group of Landlords in Germany


June 2020

Political and public debates keep circling back to the subject of major housing companies and their behaviour, and this even though these companies own merely a small fraction of the rental flats in Germany. By far the most prominent group in the German occupier market are not big companies but private owners: More than 60 percent of all rental flats, or roughly 14 million dwellings, belong in this category. This is one of the findings of the ACCENTRO Housing Cost Report that the company compiles annually in collaboration with the IW Economic Institute.

In major cities, the share of private landlords is somewhat smaller at 50 percent, whereas in small towns, four out of five rental flats are privately owned. Housing cooperatives, which account for about 18 percent of the rental flats in Germany, represent the next-largest group of landlords, ahead of private companies with a share of around 11 percent. Municipal housing companies own about 6 percent of the rental flats only.  

Buy-to-Let Residential Property Strategy Pays off

The number of private landlords increased by around 750,000 households between 2010 and 2018, which IW interprets as a sign that many private households took advantage of the attractive conditions for acquiring residential property in order to let it. Especially in the major cities, the number of private landlords increased by roughly a third over the same period of time.

The Accentro Housing Cost Report also shows that a buy-to-let investment in residential real estate is a paying proposition: IW identified a cost advantage of nearly 50 percent for owner-occupiers when comparing the costs of inhabiting a condominium with those of occupying a rental flat. As IW elaborates in the survey, the advantage can also be applied to landlords, because it means that the income from rent payments is higher than the monthly costs of repaying a mortgage loan.  

Private Landlords Count among the Highest-Earning Households

According to IW, 93 percent of Germany’s private landlords derived a positive income from letting and leasing in 2017, meaning that the gross rental income exceeded the costs of maintenance and capital improvements. For nearly 20 percent of the households letting residential property, the income from letting and leasing was an amount between zero and 2,500 euros, between 2,500 and 5,000 euros for another 20 percent, and between 5,000 and 7,500 euros for around 17 percent. One in ten landlord households actually collected more than 20,000 euros.

It is unsurprising therefore that landlord households generally count among the highest-earning households in Germany. 44 percent of the private landlords were in the top 20 percent income bracket among German households. 25 percent were among the fourth quintile of Germany’s highest-earning households. You can download the ACCENTRO Housing Cost Report free of charge at:

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