Everything you need to know about heating your apartment in Germany

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Heating your apartment should be a matter of course in winter. But according to the Federal Statistical Office, this is too expensive for millions of people in Germany. Find out what you need to know.

Heating your apartment in Germany: The current cold spell has Germany firmly in its grip. Good for those who can relax and work in a cozy home. However, a warm home is not a matter of course for everyone. 

heating your apartment in Germany

What is the minimum temperature in the rented apartment?

Warm and cozy, that’s how a home should be on the cold days of the year. If something doesn’t work or the temperatures in the apartments are too low, many are not sure who is responsible. The legal situation about a minimum temperature in the apartment or what the tenancy law prescribes for heating is usually not known.

How cold can an apartment be without heating? The following guide takes a closer look at whether there are specifications for room temperature in a rented apartment and what to do if the heating system is defective. In addition, he also clarifies what options tenants have if the heating system is not repaired.

The most important thing about heating in tenancy law

Are there any legal regulations to be observed with regard to heating?

Tenants and landlords have both obligations and rights when it comes to heating. Certain temperatures are not legally specified, but case law has defined specifications in this regard. What temperatures must be possible in the apartment?

During the heating period between 01.10. and 30.04. must be 20 °C in the living areas and 21 °C in the bathroom between 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. At night it is then 18 °C. Different regulations are possible in the rental agreement. Is it possible to reduce the rent if the heating is not working?

Yes, if the heating does not work, a rent reduction may be possible. Further information on this can be found in the guide on the subject of “rent reduction in the event of a defective heating system”.

heating your apartment in Germany

Renting an apartment without heating is unusual these days. Although there are certainly unrenovated apartments in which there are still stoves, these have become rather rare in the last 20 years. Most tenants have heating in every room in their apartment and can set the room temperature themselves. But does tenancy law specify how hot or cold the heating can be?

First of all, both tenants and landlords must have rights and obligations. This also applies to the use and maintenance of the heating system. Tenants are not prescribed in the tenancy law about the heating how they have to adjust it. However, tenants are required to use the rental property in such a way that it is not damaged. Heating incorrectly or not at all can, for example, encourage mold growth or lead to moisture damage. To prevent this, the apartment must not be too cold or too damp.

Landlords, on the other hand, have to ensure that the heating works and that a certain room temperature is reached in the rented apartment. However, these values ​​are not legally defined. However, there are judgments in the tenancy law on heating and its temperature. For example, the Berlin Regional Court decided in 1998 that a temperature of at least 20 degrees Celsius must be possible in the apartment between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. (LG Berlin, May 26, 1998, Az.: 64 S 266 /97). The judgments follow the specifications of the DIN 4701 standard.

Based on this standard, the judgment also stipulates that heating in a rented apartment must reach the following temperatures during the heating period :

  • Living rooms: 20 °C
  • Bathroom, toilet: 21 °C
  • Between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., a temperature of 18 °C is generally sufficient

The court determined the heating period to be from October 1st to April 30th. For this period, landlords must ensure that the heaters in the apartments reach these temperatures. According to this, a night-time reduction of the heating is permitted in tenancy law. Such a reduction was also confirmed by the District Court of Cologne in its judgment of July 5th, 2016 (Ref.: 205 C 36/16). However, there is no legal regulation for lowering the heating at night.

What can be specified in the rental agreement for heating

Other agreements must be also possible in the rental agreement. However, these must not lead to the disadvantage of the tenant or conflict with the provisions of the case law. If, for example, a night reduction is only determined from 24:00, this is usually permissible.

According to the provisions of the tenancy law on heating, clauses that prescribe certain temperatures at different times or that state that 18° C is sufficient during the day, for example, are not effective. It is also not permissible if clauses state that the heating is off at night. The tenancy law and case law also stipulate that the heating must work at night during the heating period.

heating your apartment in Germany

Rent reduction: If the heating in the rented apartment is too cold during the heating period

Jurisdiction generally regards temperatures below 18 or 20 degrees as a defect, which may justify a reduction in rent. If a heating system is defective and the landlord does not react, he is not fulfilling his obligations, which can also justify a reduction in rent.

Landlords are therefore required to ensure that heaters provide sufficient power during the heating period to ensure the temperatures mentioned. Incidentally, this also applies to the hot water supply. According to the above-mentioned judgment of the Berlin Regional Court, the temperature here must be at least 40 °C at all times. About heating and hot water supply, tenancy law, therefore, stipulates that tenants do not have to accept temperatures that are too cold.

Tenants have the right to reduce the rent until the defect is remedied. The extent to which this is then possible depends on the individual case. It is advisable to seek advice from a tenant association. Because a rent that has been reduced too much can also lead to termination due to outstanding rent payments.

If the heating fails, this can also result in a reduction of 100 percent for the period of the failure during the heating period with outside temperatures below zero degrees. However, termination without notice by the tenant is only an option in exceptional cases. If staying in the apartment is unreasonable because the heating is constantly defective, but the landlord does not take care of a fix, such a termination can be justified.

According to tenancy law, a rent reduction for heating is also possible if the temperature cannot be lowered. If the heating is constantly too hot and therefore causes high costs, this can also represent a defect in the rented property.

Tenancy law: What is important in the event of a heating failure

Of course, it is always annoying when something is broken in the apartment. The question usually arises as to who is responsible for the repair and who will bear the costs. If the heating is broken, the landlord usually has to take action. But be careful: Minor maintenance work can be one of the tenant’s obligations unless otherwise agreed in the rental agreement. For example, if there is not enough water in the radiator, it is the responsibility of the tenant to fill it up.

The tenancy law determines the landlord’s obligations regarding heating if it is not a question of minor maintenance work, but defects or a functional failure of the heating system. If tenants report a heating failure, landlords must react immediately and, if necessary, hire a specialist company to carry out the repairs.

For example, if a landlord is on vacation, a reasonable period must be granted. Usually, three to four days are considered reasonable. After this period, tenants can hire a company to fix the defect and charge the landlord for the work. However, they then have to prove the heating failure.

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