No more visits after 10 p.m. and showering is forbidden at night: some house rules read like a catalog of prohibitions and duties. However, tenants do not have to accept all of the house rules and regulations.
Everything has to be in order – even in apartment buildings. For this purpose, tenants are often given house rules. In principle, the house rules should guarantee a harmonious coexistence between the tenants by obliging everyone to adhere to the same rules. Some house rules contain more than information about quiet times or the use of common rooms. They also regulate when laundry can be washed. However, not all of the regulations in the rental agreement are always legally effective.
House rules: notice or part of the rental agreement?
First of all, it plays a major role whether the house rules are part of the rental agreement or whether they are just posted in the house. Because house rules may not impose any obligations on the tenant that go beyond the rental agreement.
If the house rules are posted or if the tenant received them separately from the rental agreement , they may only contain so-called “regulatory information” on certain issues of living together in the house. This includes, for example, regulations on quiet times, closing times of the front door and usage conditions for common rooms. No obligations that deviate from the rental agreement may be imposed on the tenant.
If the house rules are part of the rental agreement , certain regulations can be contractually and thus made mandatory. Landlords can then, for example, ask their tenants to clean the stairwell or to clear snow in winter.
What may be in house rules?
If the house rules are only posted in the house or if they were given to the tenant separately from the rental agreement, they usually regulate the following points:
- Quiet times: The usual quiet times are from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and on Sundays and public holidays. In the opinion of many courts, quiet times are not times of absolute silence. Normal living noises such as conversations at room volume are also permitted in quiet times.
- Use of the communal rooms or the communal garden : This regulates, for example, at what times tenants can use the communal washing machines in the laundry room or how much space each tenant is entitled to in the storage rooms. For community gardens it can be regulated whether and when tenants are allowed to set up deckchairs, flower pots or paddling pools.
- Behavioral instructions for the stairwell : Here, for example, parking bicycles or other devices can be prohibited for safety reasons. Further information on the topic of stairwells in tenement houses can be found here .
- House security : The closing times for the house door can be regulated here. Owners can also prohibit certain items from being stored in the underground car park.
- Advice on orderliness and cleanliness in the house : Often, the general observance of orderliness in the house is discussed here. For example, it is often forbidden to deposit rubbish in front of the apartment door.
If the house rules are part of the rental agreement , they can also regulate the following points:
- Cleaning the stair: Is the house rules part of the lease can be regulated, how and how often tenants must clean the stairway and other common areas.
- Winter service: It can also be contractually agreed that tenants must clear snow in winter and, if necessary, spread the sidewalk.
- Gardening: If the house rules are part of the rental agreement, landlords can ask their tenants to mow the lawn, count leaves or pull weeds.
If the house rules are part of the rental agreement, they are legally binding. Anyone who violates the house rules risks receiving a warning. Serious violations or repeated disregard can be seen as a breach of contract and result in termination.
If the house rules are only posted, violations usually have no negative consequences for the tenant. In the event of repeated and serious violations, however, the landlord can pronounce a disturbance of the domestic peace – this in turn can result in a warning and ultimately a termination.
What is not allowed in the house rules?
Basically: House rules must not violate applicable law or restrict the tenant in his personal rights. The house rules must not contain the following:
- Ban on overnight stays for visitors to the tenant
- Visiting ban
- That the landlord may enter the tenant’s apartment at any time
- Ban on the use of the elevator at night
- Regulation of the room temperature in the apartment
- Prohibit children’s noise
- General ban on making music in the apartment
- General ban on pets
Dispute house rules
The situation is not so clear on some issues – in the past, however, courts have mostly made tenant-friendly rulings:
Is it allowed to shower at night?
So far, the courts have mostly agreed that showering and bathing after 10 p.m. cannot be prohibited. The Regional Court of Cologne (Az .: 1 S 304/96), for example, rejected the immediate termination of a landlord. This had terminated her tenant on the grounds that the tenant had disturbed roommates on numerous nights after midnight by bathing and the associated water noises.
In fact, the house rules expressly stated that bathing and showering were not allowed between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. The judges considered such a clause to be ineffective because it put the tenant at a disadvantage. Tenancy law extends to all parts of the apartment and washing is part of a minimum hygienic standard.
In addition, the sound of water running in and out is one of the normal noises at home. However, the courts are unclear as to whether time limits can be drawn for night bathing and showering. For example, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (5 Ss (Owi) 411/90 – (Owi) 181/90 I) ruled that 30 minutes must be enough for showering and bathing at night. The court considered a continuous shower of 3 hours to be inadmissible.
Can landlords prohibit a washing machine in the apartment?
In general, tenants are allowed to set up and use a washing machine in their apartment – most courts agree on this. According to a decision by the Freiburg Regional Court (Az .: 9 S 60/13), this is part of the contractual use of the rental property, at least in new buildings. The noises are to be accepted as “socially adequate noise disturbances”.
The Aachen Regional Court (Az .: 7 S 46/03) even emphasizes that tenants are entitled to their own washing machine even if the landlord has set up a laundry room or provides tenants with a communal washing machine. However, there were also courts that did not share this view. The District Court of Solingen, for example, is of the opinion that the tenant must set up his washing machine in the laundry room if this is contractually regulated.
Can tenants hang up laundry to dry in the apartment?
In principle, landlords cannot forbid their tenants to hang up the laundry in the apartment. Not even if there are special drying rooms in the house (AG Düsseldorf – Az .: 53 C 1736/08). However, if the drying of the laundry in the apartment leads to the formation of mold, the tenant is liable to pay compensation to the landlord and in this case the landlord could prohibit hanging the laundry in the apartment.
Special case of tumble dryers : Similar to the washing machine, tenants are generally also allowed to set up a dryer in the apartment. However, there must be a proper ventilation device in the home. Tenants can set up a condensate dryer just like that.
Can the washing machine run during idle times?
The house rules often also regulate from when to when the washing machine and dryer may run. In principle, according to many courts, tenants should be able to wash their laundry in their apartment, as it “appears to be appropriate and necessary” (LG Aachen – Az .: 7 S 46/03).
A civil senate of the Cologne Higher Regional Court decided, for example, that washing machines can also run on Sundays (Az .: 16 Wx 165/00). Nevertheless, most courts also emphasize that tenants should not use the washing machine and dryer during rest periods. The Frankfurt Regional Court ruled, for example, that the devices must not run during the night (Az .: 2/25 O 359/89). Exceptions can always apply to working people – but there has not yet been a ruling by the highest court.
Can the landlord prohibit strollers in the hallway?
Numerous judges found it unreasonable that parents should drag prams up and down stairs in addition to their children. Strollers are therefore allowed in the hallway. However, only if they are not too big an obstacle and there is enough space to get past them (AG Düsseldorf, Az .: 22 C 15963/12; LG Berlin, Az .: 63 S 487/08).
Can my landlord change the house rules?
If the house rules are part of the rental agreement, tenants must expressly consent to any change.
If the house rules are only posted, tenants do not have to agree to the changes.