Flood damage: These are your rights and obligations as a tenant and landlord


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Although not a common occurence, floods do occur in Germany! It’s therefore a great idea to keep flood damage in mind when renting in a flood prone area.

Germany is comprised of five large river basins (the Elbe, upper Danube, Rhine, Weser and Ems), three medium-scale basins in the coastal area (Eider, Schlei/Trave and Warnow/Peene), and small parts of the Oder and Meuse basins. The Germany cities and towns along these basins are prone to flood damage.

When the floods recede, the flood damage in your own four walls and on objects becomes visible. Find out here what rights and obligations you as a tenant and landlord have in the event of flood damage and how you can resolve this situation as quickly as possible.

Flood damage repair and overhaul

flood damage

In the resulting damage caused by flood or storm the building and to the apartment, the landlord in the duty . This must repair all flood damage. This applies to the pumping out of the water as well as to damage that affects the building itself. It also applies to rented furnishings, such as fitted kitchens. The landlord is also financially responsible for all of these repairs and renovations .

An exception is the personal furnishings of the tenant, because this is private property. With these things, the tenant finances the repairs himself.

Insurance liability

As a rule, insurance companies such as home contents and apartment building insurance are not liable for flood damage or damage caused by storms. Renters can water damage possibly on the home insurance bill if this insurance perils include you.

For the landlord , the same applies to building insurance . This is only payable in the event of damage caused by natural forces or damage to the building. The damaged furniture due to the water damage is not a case for the insurance.

Damage from natural forces to buildings or in houses is caused by the effects of nature. The causes of this damage are, for example:

  • Flood
  • Storm
  • hail
  • Snow pressure
flood damage

Compensation and replacement apartment

The tenant receives a replacement apartment from the landlord’s stock if:

  • the house is too badly damaged by the storm and the repair is economically unreasonable for the landlord.

An automatic termination of the lease occurs if this alternative does not exist.

In the event of flood damage, tenants generally cannot assert any claims for damages against the landlord.

Exception :

  • The landlord is in default with repair and maintenance measures and this results in further damage to the tenant’s property – a claim for damages is then conceivable.

Complete destruction

If the building is so damaged that it has to be demolished, the tenancy ends. The tenant is not entitled to have the landlord provide a replacement apartment that does not come from his or her portfolio.

flood damage

Rent reduction

Tenants can reduce the rent by 100% if the apartment is completely uninhabitable due to the flood. If the apartment can only be used to a limited extent, you have the right to reduce the rent. For this it is necessary to report the defects to the landlord . It is best to document the defects with photos. A damaged stairwell is also a reason for a rent reduction. This applies to the period in which the damage is present and not yet repaired.

Right of termination for tenants

In the event of major flood damage, the tenant has the right to terminate the rental contract without notice due to health hazards. For example, if there is mud in the apartment and the landlord does not manage to get the rented space back into a usable condition at relatively short notice.

Measures for better flood protection

If the landlord protects his property better against floods and floods, this is a measure that increases the residential value of the property. He can claim these costs by increasing the rent . This is also permissible if politically new requirements regarding flood protection are decided.

Exemplary protective measures for existing buildings:

  • Use of water-resistant building materials
  • Furnishings insensitive to water in flood-prone areas
  • Emergency power supply
  • Electrical installations that can be switched off separately
  • Establishing a parking position for elevators
  • Use of easily transportable objects
  • Use of easily degradable furnishings
  • and much more.
flood damage

Tenants ‘associations and tenants’ association

According to the Legal Advice Act, tenant associations only advise members on specific legal issues. In addition, the German Tenants’ Association provides information on what to watch out for in the event of flood and storm damage. 

Flood-damaged tenants can call 030/223 23 – 166 all over Germany free of charge information on all tenancy law issues . Quick action is the most important thing after water damage or storm damage. At best, tenants and landlords enter into a dialogue as quickly as possible and look for a solution together.

Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany


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