Assignee Housing in Europe: Who Does What?

Oct 20, 2014

It’s said that “all roads lead to Rome.” But when finding housing for assignees in Europe, the roads go in many different directions. And they can be confusing.

“Country to country, even within countries, each area has its own tenancy laws,” says Cornerstone’s Anne Weissenrieder, Director, Global Mobility Services. “Depending on where you’re looking, the manner of communicating and providing services can differ.”

Anne works from the company’s office in Frankfurt, Germany. As the primary contact for European assignees, she helps them with home searches, settling-in services, visa and immigration requirements, and language and cultural training.

“Typically, the relocation counselor oversees the whole relocation process for the assignee.” Says Anne. “The relocation consultant researches properties, explains the market and pricing, arranges appointments and organizes settling-in services.”

By contrast, she says, the real estate agent offers properties, arranges viewings, and handles lease negotiations. The process may also involve a property manager or a landlord, who may or may not be the legal owner of the property. In some areas, the property manager cannot also be a real estate agent.

“Finding housing in the UK, Belgium and France may involve yet another professional—an inventory clerk, who performs an intensive walkthrough.”

Housing costs can differ widely.
“Many people prefer city living for the quality of life, business opportunities, and social and leisure activities,” says Anne. “However, rent is generally much higher than in the suburbs or in the country. And there can be extreme differences by location. You might pay 5,000 Euros per month in Moscow for a two-bedroom apartment that would cost you 1,000 Euros in France.”

If you have children, Anne advises, be aware that most state schools are not obliged to accept registrations when a family’s permanent residence and the school are not in the same district. However, this is not a factor for international schools. “If schooling is an issue, consider it carefully before securing a property,” says Anne.

And what about furry family members?
“For smaller pets, like a hamster, it’s usually not necessary to request the property owner’s permission,” says Anne. “A cat or dog is usually allowed, except in the inner city, as long as the property owner approves.”

But there is a caveat: If your dog’s barking disturbs the neighbors, the property owner can retract permission at any time. “Before you head off on a European assignment with a lively dog, you may want to consider a hamster instead.”

Cornerstone Earns Top Honors from HRO Today
HRO Today magazine has awarded Cornerstone Relocation Group the 2013 Baker’s

Dozen Award for superior customer satisfaction. The award recognizes relocation
service providers based solely on customer feedback in three areas: breadth of service, deal size and quality of service.

“We are pleased to receive this recognition,” says Janelle Piatkowski, President & CEO of Cornerstone Relocation Group. “It’s a testament to our staff’s total commitment to outstanding service.

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