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Tenancy law: how to argue cleverly
Tenancy law: how to argue cleverly

Video: Tenancy law: how to argue cleverly

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Tenancy law regulates the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords - but these are often not exercised or there are disputes for other reasons. Operating cost accounting, rent amount, repairs due, defective heating, bicycles in the hallway - what is allowed, what is not? How do you best act in the event of a dispute? We give advice.

Table of contents Table of contents tenancy law: When tenants and landlords argue

  • What does tenancy law say about the most common causes of disputes?
  • When to get legal advice
  • Tenancy law: example of a conflict scenario "rent increase"

Table of contents Table of contents tenancy law: When tenants and landlords argue

  • What does tenancy law say about the most common causes of disputes?
  • When to get legal advice
  • Tenancy law: example of a conflict scenario "rent increase"

There is a wide range of disputes between landlords and tenants: They range from operating cost billing and noise pollution from neighbors to shortcomings in housing, claims to rent increases or modernization. We have summarized the most common causes of disputes for you. So you can see at a glance what the legal background of your case is and you can decide in a next step whether the dispute is worthwhile or whether a compromise should be sought.

What does tenancy law say about the most common causes of disputes?

Operating cost accounting

  • Apartment and commercial space

    According to the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), landlords are not obliged to bill the operating costs for apartments and commercial space separately, as long as the tenant is not significantly disadvantaged as a result. The tenant can see the billing documents on the landlord's premises. The landlord only has to make copies if this is unreasonable because of the distance (BGH VII ZR 78/05). Tip: Find out about the most common errors in service charge settlement here.

  • Vacancy and costs

    If apartments are empty, the landlord must assume the incidental costs for these apartments if he allocates the operating costs according to the ratio of the area of ​​the rented apartment to the total living space (BGH VIII ZR 159/05). Tenants can refuse to change the contract if only a few apartments are temporarily vacant.

  • Allocation allowed

    According to the BGH, tenants of ground floor apartments must also contribute to the operating costs for the elevator. A differentiated allocation of operating costs, for example for caretaker service, cleaning of common areas, lighting, garden maintenance or elevator, is not practical (BGH VIII ZR 103/06). Newly arising operating costs - for example for the newly concluded liability insurance - the landlord can apportion the tenant proportionately, provided that he has reserved this in the rental agreement (BGH VIII ZR 80/06).

Cosmetic repairs

After the BGH already declared clauses in rental contracts invalid in 2004, according to which tenants have to renovate "at the latest" or "in any case" after certain deadlines, in April 2006 it went one step further: Afterwards, the rental contract must clearly state that the deadlines are flexible. If an addition such as "generally" or "in general" is missing, the clause is ineffective (BGH VIII ZR 178/05).

  • Compensation Clauses

    If there are compensation clauses in the rental agreement, the landlord can, if the renovation periods have not yet expired, demand a percentage of the renovation costs for the period of wear and tear since the last cosmetic repairs. However, the settlement clauses must not be based on rigid deadlines. Otherwise, they place the tenant at an unreasonable disadvantage because they do not take the condition of the apartment into account (BGH VIII ZR 52/06).

Living space

Do you know how to properly size your living space? This can save you money, because: If the living space is more than 10 percent less than that specified in the rental agreement, there is a defect that entitles you to a rent reduction (BGH VIII ZR 205/03 and 347/04).

When to get legal advice

Both sides should inquire about their rights and obligations, for example in these additional articles:

Tenancy law: your rights and obligations as a tenant and landlord

Ownership community: rights and obligations of property owners

Termination due to personal needs: your rights and obligations

Special right of use: examples, rights and obligations

Among neighbors: these rights and obligations count in summer

This should be followed by a reasonable conversation. If there are conflicts with the neighbor, you should also inform the landlord. If there are housing shortages, you should inform the landlord as soon as possible and ask them to remedy them. In the event of a rent increase, you can see the local rent index at the municipal housing office or at one of the interest groups.

Tenancy law: example of a conflict scenario "rent increase"

The landlord demands from his tenant a rent increase from 6 to 7 euros per square meter. For the 100 square meter apartment, this means 100 euros more rent per month. The tenant rejects the rent increase. The local rent index envisages 6 euros at the bottom and 7 euros at the top for a comparable apartment. The table below (source: Deutscher Mieterbund Berlin) shows possible steps on the way to agreement.



Step 1

Personal conversation between the landlord

and tenants; Agreement on compromise:

6.50 euros per square meter.

If no agreement is reached:

- No costs -

2nd step

Involvement of a mediator (via the tenant association

or the bar association).

If mediation fails:

Freely negotiable, e.g. 50 euros

3rd step

1st instance: District Court

With a value in dispute of

Fall 1, 200 euros

around 700 euros for two

Lawyers plus the court fee

and possibly 800 euros for

an opinion.

4th step

2nd instance: Appeal to the district court

Around 820 euros for

two attorneys plus the court fee

and possibly the cost of

another opinion

Tip: Before you decide to go to court: The district court will often suggest a comparison. That means you take over the costs proportionately. From the result, you can have it cheaper with a mediator. If the face-to-face conversation fails, suggest mediation.

After factual advice, both sides discuss what the next step will be. However, there are cases in which no compromise is possible or one side refuses to do so. If the fronts are hardened, there is a dispute in court.

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