Paying ancillary costs in your annual utility bill is not set in stone. You dont have to pay all of them
Despite the clear legal regulations, some tenants end up paying ancillary costs appear in some operating cost bills, which are non-apportionable. They should not be passed on to the tenants! A watchful eye is required here! Find out which costs landlords are allowed to pass on to the tenant and examples of non-passable ancillary costs.
- 1. Paying ancillary costs – Property tax
- 2. Operating costs of an elevator
- 3. Garbage disposal costs and street cleaning
- 4. Building cleaning
- 5. Pest Control
- 6. Garden maintenance
- 7. Administrative costs
- 8. Repair and maintenance costs
- 9. Cost of laundry care
- 10. Lighting costs
- 11. Drainage costs
- 12. Insurance contributions
- 13. Heating and hot water
- 14. Water supply (cold water)
- 15. Chimney sweep costs
- 16. Cost of community antenna and cable TV
- 17. Caretaker costs
- 18. Other operating costs
1. Paying ancillary costs – Property tax
The property tax is one of the public, recurring charges of a property and can therefore be passed on to the tenants. The amount of property tax can vary from municipality to municipality and also depends on the base tax amount determined by the respective tax office.
If the landlord receives an additional property tax claim, he can exceptionally pass the costs on to the tenant even after the accounting period (1 year after the end of the accounting period), since he is not to blame for the late settlement of ancillary costs.
On average, German tenants pay 18 cents per m² for property tax (2015 operating cost table).
2. Operating costs of an elevator
The costs that arise from the operation of an elevator can also be passed on to the tenant in the annual utility bill. These are in particular the costs of operating electricity, the monitoring and maintenance of the elevator and the company audit, which is due every 2 years.
Because these costs are passed on to all tenants, tenants in large high-rise buildings pay a lower proportion of elevator costs than tenants in a lower house.
Anyone who lives in a rented apartment on the ground floor and therefore does not need the elevator at all must also pay, provided this has been agreed in the rental agreement (BGH VIII ZR 103/06). Repair costs are not part of the operating costs and must therefore not appear in the ancillary costs statement.
3. Garbage disposal costs and street cleaning
Garbage disposal costs can also be passed on to the tenant as running costs. These include, for example, the costs for garbage disposal and the operating costs for the garbage chute. The disposal of bulky waste is also one of the apportionable waste disposal costs.
The operating cost table for Germany shows an average value of 18 cents per m² per month for these costs. With the garbage disposal costs, the landlord can also pass on the fees for municipal street cleaning to the tenant.
If the landlord engages a clearing and gritting service in winter, he may also settle these costs with the tenants. If, on the other hand, the tenants have to take over the winter duties, the winter service must not appear in the utility bill.
4. Building cleaning
The costs of building cleaning include the costs of cleaning the parts of the building shared by the residents, such as entrances, corridors, stairs, cellars, lofts, laundry rooms or lifts. If they occur regularly, these costs can be allocated in the service charge statement.
One-off special cleanings, for example after construction work in the house, are not included. If, on the other hand, there is more soiling or graffiti on the walls of the house, the costs for the removal can be passed on to the tenant in the utility bill (AG Berlin-Mitte GE 2007, 1259).
According to the operating cost table for Germany, tenants pay an average of 16 cents per m² per month for building cleaning.
5. Pest Control
Annoying pests such as ants, mice, rats or cockroaches fortunately have to be fought regularly in very few apartment buildings. Accordingly, the costs for the removal can usually not be passed on to the tenant community. Rather, in the case of pest infestation, the person responsible for the infestation has to bear the costs of removal.
The landlord can reclaim such expenses from the respective tenant in the form of a claim for damages.
6. Garden maintenance
The costs of garden maintenance are also part of the additional costs, which are to be paid by the tenant by agreement. This includes the costs of maintaining horticultural areas including the renewal of plants, the maintenance of playgrounds including the renewal of sand and the maintenance of places, entrances and driveways.
The fact that tenants have no right to use the garden does not exclude the allocation of operating costs. (BGH WuM 2004, 399) According to the operating cost table, tenants in Germany have to pay an average of 10 cents per m² per month for garden maintenance.
7. Administrative costs
Administration costs required for the property are not apportionable. This includes the costs of manpower and administrative facilities, the costs of supervision, the value of the administrative work performed personally by the landlord, the costs for the statutory or voluntary audits of the annual financial statements and the costs for the management.
A full allocation of the administration costs to the tenant is not permitted. However, under certain conditions it can be agreed that a regular, constant amount is to be paid for administration in the service charge statement (LG Berlin GE 1996, 1051).
Costs such as bank charges, postage (for sending the statement) and telephone costs are regularly incurred, but are not apportionable.
8. Repair and maintenance costs
Repair and maintenance costs are costs that have to be expended to maintain the intended use in order to properly eliminate structural or other defects caused by wear and tear, aging and the effects of the weather. These cannot be passed on in full to the tenant either.
As with the administrative costs, a lump sum for these costs can be allocated in the ancillary costs statement in individual cases.
9. Cost of laundry care
If there is a laundry room in the house with washing machines, dryers, ironers or similar devices that can be used by all tenants, the landlord can pass on all costs incurred by the operation to the tenants.
The costs for electricity, maintenance and cleaning costs for the devices must be borne by all tenants on a pro rata basis, regardless of whether they actually use the facility or not. Coin-operated devices are more just. In this case, the landlord may not enrich himself through the coin operation, but must only use the income to operate the equipment.
10. Lighting costs
Electricity costs that arise from the lighting of the communal areas and rooms are included in the apportionable operating costs. This includes the lighting of stairwells, basements, attics, laundry rooms, bicycle or garbage rooms. Electricity costs for outdoor lighting, which benefit all tenants, can also be billed.
Germans pay 0.05 cents per m² on average for general electricity. If, on the other hand, fuses or light sources such as light bulbs or fluorescent tubes have to be replaced, the landlord has to cover these costs. They are part of the maintenance costs and are therefore not fully apportionable.
11. Drainage costs
If the wastewater from an apartment building is fed into the local sewer system, the landlord has to pay so-called sewer or sewer fees. He can pass this on to the tenant, just like costs that arise from the operation of an in-house drainage system.
Taxes for surface drainage, rainwater or precipitation water are also part of the drainage costs. Repair costs, the sewer connection fee or costs for cleaning blocked drains are not apportionable and must be borne by the landlord.
12. Insurance contributions
If damage or accidents occur, it is usually worth taking out insurance that will cover high costs in the event of damage. There is no obligation for landlords to take out certain types of insurance. However, you can settle premiums for building-related property and liability insurance with the tenants.
Liability insurance comes into play, for example, if a tenant or visitor is injured when falling on a property owned by the property. Property insurance can be taken out, for example, against damage caused by storms, fire or water.
If the landlord receives premium refunds, he has to distribute them to the tenants accordingly. Other types of insurance such as loss of rent, legal expenses or household contents insurance can be quite useful, however, they are counted as non-apportionable ancillary costs. On average, landlords charge their tenants EUR 0.17 per m² for insurance costs.
13. Heating and hot water
Costs for heating and hot water occupy a special position among the apportionable operating costs. In contrast to the other “cold operating costs”, at least 50% of these “warm operating costs” must be billed depending on the individual consumption of the tenants.
The remaining part, like all other operating costs, is shared proportionally among all tenants. As a rule, the living space is used as the distribution key. The warm operating costs are the most expensive for tenants, according to the operating cost table: tenants have to pay 0.73 – 1.98 euros per m².
14. Water supply (cold water)
In contrast to the costs of hot water, landlords can share the costs of cold water in full among all tenants. Individual consumption only plays a role if the individual apartments have their own water meters. Otherwise, the total consumption of the house is read on the main water meter and passed on to all tenants using the distribution key.
In addition to the fees of the water supplier, the landlord may also charge costs for a water supply system, water treatment and reading and calibrating the cold water meter. According to the operating cost table, tenants in Germany pay an average of 34 cents per m² for cold water and drainage.
15. Chimney sweep costs
If the chimney sweeper comes into the house to clean the chimney or to carry out the statutory emission measurement, fees are incurred. The emission measurement must be carried out in order to control the pollutant emissions of the heating. As a rule, the chimney sweep fees are billed as part of the heating costs.
However, if a tenant uses a gas heating system or a single fireplace, he does not receive a heating bill from the landlord, but bills his consumption directly with the fuel supplier. In this case, the landlord can bill the costs for the chimney sweep as part of the cold operating costs.
16. Cost of community antenna and cable TV
The landlord cannot settle the one-off connection or installation costs with his tenants. On the other hand, regular costs such as operating electricity for a house antenna or fees for the cable connection can be passed on. The costs must also be borne by tenants who do not use a television. On average, tenants have to pay 0.13 euros per m².
17. Caretaker costs
If the landlord employs a caretaker, he can pass on wages and ancillary wages to the tenants. The caretaker can, for example, take care of house or street cleaning or take care of garden maintenance, winter maintenance, monitoring of heating, water supply or lifts.
Activities carried out by the caretaker may not appear as separate items in the billing, unless additional services or workers have to be billed. If the caretaker takes on administrative activities and repairs in the house, these non-apportionable costs must be deducted from the settlement of the operating costs.
If building cleaning, winter service and garden maintenance are billed separately, the caretaker only costs 12 cents per m² on average.
18. Other operating costs
The Operating Costs Ordinance also allows the landlord to settle regular operating costs with the tenants that are not expressly described in the ordinance. If there is a sauna or a swimming pool in the house, for example, their operation can be settled with the tenant community.
The same applies if it is necessary to heat the gutters or to clean them regularly due to the construction. The maintenance of fire extinguishers can also fall under other operating costs. With an average of only 4 cents per m², this is one of the lowest cost items when billing the ancillary costs.
However, it is important that the rental agreement clearly stipulates which costs the landlord can pass on annually.