Allotment gardening is one of the favorite activities of people of all ages and families all year round. It is one of the most popular activities for hipsters and business people. Combining business with pleasure and growing your own natural, chemical-free vegetables and fruits is also an added benefit of owning an allotment.
How do you become an allotment owner in Germany and enjoy your own fruit and vegetables? Rent, buy or lease? The answer to these and other questions can be found in our article. You are welcome!
Allotments in Germany – rent (Miete) or lease (Pacht)?
Unfortunately, in Germany you cannot rent an allotment garden like you rent an apartment, holiday home or lease a car. In this case you can only lease an allotment plot (Parzelle) from a community allotment association (Kleingartenverein). To acquire the right to lease, it is compulsory to become a member of the association. Once you have become a member and have paid your membership fee, you have to wait for a plot to be allocated to you. The waiting period for a dream allotment can be very long, from a few weeks even to several months in larger cities. Especially long waiting lists have allotment associations in metropolitan areas such as Munich, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Berlin.
How much does it cost to lease an allotment garden in Germany?
According to the Federal Association of German Garden Lovers, or Bundesverband Deutscher Gartenfreunde, the annual garden fee averages 17 cents per square meter. On top of this there is a membership fee to the allotment association (Kleingartenverein), a fee for electricity (most allotments have a gazebo with connected utilities), municipal fees (waste disposal, water and sewerage) and insurance. Depending on the size of the plot you have to expect costs of 150-400 euros per year depending on the bundesland and the allotment association.
Abstand, i.e. rent for the previous tenant
When you lease an allotment in an association, you do not receive a bare plot. It is always a garden, where the previous owner has built a gazebo or a covered terrace, where a small shed with tools stands, fruit trees grow and flower and vegetable beds. In this case it is necessary to pay a compensation (Abstand) to the previous tenant for the summerhouse (Laube), garden equipment (Gartengeräte) and planted plants (Bepflanzung). The average Abstand is between 2,000 and 3,000 €, but there are also cases of 10,000 € for extremely well-maintained plots with beautiful gazebos with a terrace, barbecue area, all garden tools, lawn mower and electric hedge saw.
Regulations related to owning an allotment in Germany
An allotment garden is owned by an association and the tenant of the allotment only has a right of use to it and must therefore follow certain rules. These are set out in the Allotment Garden Act, or Bundeskleingartengesetz (BKleingG for short). This law strictly defines the maximum area of the plot (it cannot be more than 400 m2) and the usable area of the gazebo (no more than 24 m2 including roofing). If the allotment garden is smaller than 200m2, the gazebo can have a maximum area of up to 18m2.
Additionally, the law states that the ownership of an allotment garden has a recreational purpose and is for the nonprofit cultivation of fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants solely for one’s own consumption. According to a judgment of the German Federal Court (Bundesgerichtshof), there is an additional legal regulation: at least one third of the plot must be used for growing vegetables and fruit for personal use, one third of the plot may be occupied by a gazebo, terrace and paths, and the final third of the plot may be used for growing ornamental plants, lawn and garden decorations.
Allotment associations’ own regulations, or Vereinssatzung
Some allotment associations set additional rules for their members. Thus, virtually all associations allow barbecues on the allotment, but prohibit open fires (Lagerfeuer). A masonry recreational water pool is not allowed on the plots. Some associations also prohibit ornamental ponds, fountains or ponds. Chlorination of water is also prohibited. While the lessee or family members may spend the night in the gazebo, the gazebo may not be rented as lodging or as part of an AirB&B. The gazebo also cannot be a permanent residence. There are also rules regarding the presence of pets on the plot, the type of plants and shrubs grown, the height of hedges and trees, and the type of fences and their height.
Grilling and partying on an allotment in Germany
Parties and barbecues with family or friends on a plot of land are permitted as long as a safe barbecue is used. It is not permitted to light a bonfire or have an open fire pit. For larger or louder parties, it is imperative that you inform yourself of the applicable noon daytime and evening/nighttime rules. Some associations may have a so-called noon daytime curfew from 1 to 3 p.m., during which social gatherings, loud music, mowing the lawn with an electric or petrol lawnmower and trimming hedges with electric shears, among other things, are prohibited. Quiet hours in the evening or night may apply from as early as 8pm, on some days e.g. Friday evening only from 10pm.
Sleeping on a plot of land in Germany
In the case of overnight stays on a plot of land, it is permitted to spend the night in a gazebo during weekends, vacations or vacations. According to German legislation, the gazebo must not be of a nature that indicates permanent residence. Renting out gazebos to third parties is also prohibited. This means that it is forbidden to install central heating in a summerhouse, to have a satellite dish, cable TV or Internet connection. In most allotments it is forbidden to pitch a tent on the plot.
Participation in the life of the allotment association
The lease of an allotment also involves participation in the life of the association, or Teilnahme am Vereinsleben. Joining an allotment association means that you voluntarily identify yourself with the idea of community and the associated readiness to help neighbours, tolerance and sociability. If you like to grow your own fruit and vegetables, if you are interested in gardening and have a passion for plants, “Grüner Daumen”, and if you enjoy spending your free time outdoors in all weathers, then an allotment is the ideal place for you to stay, not only during the summer vacations.