A number of protective measures to contain the corona pandemic continue to cause restrictions. Below is relevant information for tenants and an overview of what tenants should be aware of in the corona crisis.
The corona pandemic is causing serious changes in social interaction. Tenants are also affected by regulations in some places, which can change quickly depending on the location.
- Can a tenant reduce the rent due to loss of income?
- Can I apply for housing benefit now?
- Rent reduction if the neighbor is sick with Covid-19?
- Rent reduction due to blocked communal areas?
- Are tenants entitled to protection against Covid-19 in the apartment building?
- Can repairs be carried out in my apartment during Corona?
- Can I deny tradesmen access to my apartment?
- Can the landlord terminate the tenant without notice or register their own use?
- Do I have to tolerate viewings in my apartment?
- What if i can’t move out due to quarantine?
Can a tenant reduce the rent due to loss of income?
No. The rent reduction can only be considered if the landlord cannot provide the rented property. If that were the case, there would also be no obligation to pay rent.
If, in times of crisis, there are bottlenecks or failures at external suppliers such as water, electricity and heating, it must be clarified whether the landlord is responsible for this. That also depends on whether he owes these services under the rental contract or the tenant commissions them himself. In commercial leases, however, the landlord’s liability for failure of external suppliers is usually contractually excluded.
Can I apply for housing benefit now?
In order to be able to apply for housing benefit, certain requirements must be met. If the corona crisis has caused employees to become unemployed or on short-time work, and therefore the income is no longer sufficient for the rent, yes! Then you can apply for housing benefit.
Rent reduction if the neighbor is sick with Covid-19?
No. Illness of a roommate or a neighbor is not a reason to reduce the rent, because it does not represent a defect in the rental property.
Rent reduction due to blocked communal areas?
The tendency is towards no. It would also depend on whether the shared use of a playground or a community garden was contractually agreed as part of the contract. A rent reduction due to insignificant defects is also not permitted according to Section 536 of the German Civil Code (BGB). What exactly represents an insignificant defect depends on the individual case.
It is controversial whether the landlord is not allowed to block mandatory communal areas for the stay.
Are tenants entitled to protection against Covid-19 in the apartment building?
Usually not. According to Reiner Wild, the managing director of the Berlin tenants’ association, the landlord is not obliged to extraordinarily clean and disinfect the stairwell and common rooms. Tenants are also not entitled to structural changes or organizational measures taken by the landlord to ensure a minimum distance of 1.5 to 2 meters. “Simply because they are usually not feasible,” says Wild. This does not change if a tenant in the apartment building falls ill with Covid-19 and is under quarantine. Because: “The general risk of infection is to be accepted as a life risk.”
Can repairs be carried out in my apartment during Corona?
Craft activities are allowed. Heating and air conditioning tradespeople and electricians, for example, continue to provide their services. The companies are well aware of their responsibility and do everything in their power to serve customers even under these difficult circumstances.
However, the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior warns that “all work that is not necessary should, however, be postponed to a later date.”
Can I deny tradesmen access to my apartment?
Since manual activities are not prohibited and are usually necessary, they must be carried out. However, if a tenant refuses strictly and does not allow the craftsmen into the apartment, he cannot reduce the rent due to a possibly existing defect. Under certain circumstances, he even has to pay compensation or pay for the repairman’s return trip himself.
Can the landlord terminate the tenant without notice or register their own use?
Terminations due to personal needs or if the tenant ignores the house rules, for example, are still valid. The termination restriction, which was imposed on March 16, 2020, only covers terminations due to payment arrears from the months of April to June 2020. Affected tenants have until the end of June 2022 to repay the arrears. Until then, the landlord cannot terminate it because of this.
It is also different if there are arrears in payments from the months before April 2020 or after June 2020. Terminations and eviction actions without notice are then possible.
Do I have to tolerate viewings in my apartment?
Yes, a tenant must have the opportunity to view an apartment on site before signing the rental agreement. The landlord would also like to sublet his apartment as soon as possible and also has the right to show it to interested parties.
A prerequisite for an inspection is that distances and hygiene measures are observed. In some federal states, the contact restrictions also apply to visits. In any case, regular hand washing and disinfection of the surfaces are necessary measures when viewing an apartment. Mass visits are currently not permitted. In case of doubt, advice should be sought from the relevant authorities.
What if i can’t move out due to quarantine?
With the termination, the tenant undertakes to vacate the apartment at the agreed time. If he cannot do this because he is under quarantine, he must prove that he is not at fault. In addition, he has to pay compensation for the period of use, i.e. he must also continue to pay rent for the further use of the apartment. It is best to talk to the landlord here.
However, according to the German Tenants’ Association, the tenant also has a right to physical integrity, the so-called right of enforcement. This takes precedence over the owner’s interest in eviction. “Since all people are called to show solidarity and to drastically reduce contacts, the tenant – also to protect others – cannot be obliged to move out.”