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Ten judgments on mailbox issues
Ten judgments on mailbox issues
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If he fulfills his purposes, nobody will notice him. The mailbox is one of the objects in a house that nobody has worried about for years. But that can change from one moment to the next. That is when the mailbox is defective or a tenant wishes to move it to another location that is more convenient for him. The Law and Tax Information Service of the LBS has selected ten cases for its extra edition, in which German courts had to deal with mailboxes and some of them came to fundamental judgments.

1. Inside mailboxes are safe from advertising

The distributors of a free advertising sheet had no access to the inside mailboxes of a house and therefore put the sheets in a pile in front of the door. After several requests from the owner to refrain from doing so, they continued. The Magdeburg District Court (file number 150 C 518/17) described this as an unauthorized intrusion into third-party property and prohibited it, especially since this was a purely advertising sheet in which the articles were also advertising.

2. No house ban for postmen

A property owner cannot permanently deny a postman access to his mailbox. In the specific case, the person concerned had banned the delivery person because he wanted to protest against the poor working conditions in his company. But the district court of Cologne (file number 9 S 123/13) did not consider this to be a legitimate interest of the property owner, which justified such a ban.

3. Everyone has to take care of their mail

Even a missing mailbox key does not prevent an apartment owner from monitoring his inbox. A young man claimed that his wife had left the apartment in an argument and took the key with them. It was only eleven days later that he had access again - and during this time he missed an important official letter with a deadline. The Oberlandesgericht Hamm (file number 4 Ws 103/16) informed the man that he should have looked after his mail much earlier.

√úbervoller Briefkasten
√úbervoller Briefkasten

Everyone should check their mailbox regularly and receive mail. Sometimes there could be something important.

Photo: fotolia / Anna Popova

4. The location of the mailbox is no reason for a rent reduction

A tenant cannot find out whether the letterbox system is located inside or outside of an apartment building. It is up to the owner. The district court of Frankfurt / Oder (file number 6a S 126/09) refused to grant a tenant the desired reduction in rent because only letter boxes in the hallway were available to him. In principle, a landlord must enable proper mail delivery, but that also works with the solution offered.

5. The standardized mailbox slot

Conversely, the letter box slot in a rental apartment must meet DIN standards. If this is not the case, a monthly rent reduction is possible. In a residential complex in Berlin, the slot was only 18 x 3 centimeters in size, although the DIN regulation stipulated a width of 32.5 centimeters. The Charlottenburg District Court (file number 27 C 262/00) decided that this solution did not meet today's requirements. The owner had to make improvements if he did not want to risk a permanent reduction.

6. The minimum size of the mailbox

Another important criterion for a mailbox, according to the Frankfurt / Main District Court (file number 33 C 3463/15), is that envelopes in DIN-A-4 format can be thrown in completely and do not have to protrude or crease. The tenant had seen the condition of the mailbox before the contract was signed and had not intervened. But considering the subordinate importance of this question when renting an apartment, the court went after him.

7. Each tenant is responsible for his mailbox

If a tenant does nothing against a malfunctioning mailbox over a longer period of time, then he is personally responsible for a failed mail delivery. A victim had not complained for about a year that the flap was missing. When the landlord then sent him a rent increase request, he suddenly appealed to the defective mailbox and claimed that the letter had not reached him. The Berlin-Wedding district court (file number 18 C 380/15) did not accept this apology. The tenant could not talk himself out with the missing mouth.

Kaputter Briefkasten
Kaputter Briefkasten

If the mailbox is not functional for an extended period of time, the tenant, not the landlord, is responsible for failed mail deliveries.

Photo: iStock / JanWillemKunnen

8. The abandoned mailbox

It is essential for a mailbox that the name of the resident is also written on it. If this is not the case, then this can be regarded as culpable behavior and the person concerned is liable for the consequences. A man in Hesse had only one company name on the mailbox at the entrance to the courtyard entrance, but not his own name. That was too little for the State Social Court of Hesse (file number L 6 SO 78/07), it did not accept this excuse for missing the deadline.

9. The mailbox keys

Mailbox keys are often not as stable as house or apartment keys. A tenant in Halle broke the key, whereupon the owner wanted to have the cost of replacing the lock replaced. The Halle district court (file number 93 C 4044/08) did not agree to this claim for compensation. It could also be a matter of material fatigue, which the tenant is not responsible for. At least that's how it should be seen when in doubt.

10. The mailbox must be reachable by the tenant

If the owner does not provide a usable mailbox, the tenant can help himself. There was a mailbox at the gate entrance, but it was too far away for the severely disabled tenant and not well protected from the weather and wet. The victim attached her own mailbox to the house, which the district court Kleve (file number 35 C 110/15) described as appropriate. Another argument was that the mailbox had occasionally been overgrown with plants.

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