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The 9 most important tenant obligations in Germany

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Tenants have rights, but also obligations. You should observe these tenant obligations so that the tenancy runs smoothly.

Commit contracts – this also and especially applies to rental contracts. Because in addition to many rights, tenants also have some obligations. Below is a look at the 9 most important tenant obligations at a glance.

1. Pay rental deposit

Right at the beginning of the tenancy, the tenant is obliged to pay a rental deposit, provided this has been contractually agreed. Their amount is a maximum of three months’ rent. However, the tenant does not necessarily have to pay the deposit all at once. He has the right to transfer these to the landlord in equal installments for the first three months of the rental.

2. Tenant obligation to pay rent on time

The tenant’s main obligation is to pay his rent and ancillary costs regularly and punctually – if agreed. By the third working day of the month at the latest, the tenant must make the transfer to his bank (BGH VIII ZR 222/15).

If he breaches his obligations here, in the worst case, he must expect termination without notice: The landlord can pronounce this if the tenant does not pay the rent or only partially pays it twice in a row and the rent arrears are more than one month’s rent. Or if there is a rent arrears over a longer period of time, which amounts to more than two months’ rent. Even those who are continuously late paying the rent may have to expect a termination.

Tenant obligation

3. Report defects

A tenant not only has the right to have the landlord correct defects, but also the duty to report defects. If he does not do this, and consequential damage occurs as a result, he may even be obliged to pay compensation under certain circumstances.


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4. Follow the house rules

Mutual consideration is also part of the tenant’s obligations. Tenants should take this to heart, especially when it comes to noise. There is no right to party loudly every now and then and music at disco volume is also not acceptable. However, the roommates usually have to put up with children’s noise.

In other respects, too, it is important to take the interests of the other residents into consideration: For example, the stairwell is not a place to store rubbish. Particularly serious misconduct can also result in termination.

5. Heating requirement

Tenants not only have the right to a functioning heating system, they also have an obligation to operate it. If mold forms because of a poorly or unheated apartment, or if a pipe freezes, the tenant has to pay compensation in the worst case.

Tenant obligation

6. Sub-tenants or conversions: ask the landlord

The tenant can not control all matters in his rented apartment as he would like. For example, if a tenant wants to carry out major improvements in the apartment, he may only do so with the landlord’s permission. This applies even if the tenant wants to renovate the bathroom at his own expense, for example, because all fixtures are the property of the landlord. Such cases should also be regulated in detail in writing in order to prevent later disputes.

However, the tenant may make minor changes, such as the color design of the walls, without asking. The loose laying of a new floor covering is also unproblematic. However, the landlord can demand that this be expanded again at the end of the tenancy and that the original condition be restored.

Even new roommates or sub-tenants are usually not allowed to move in without the landlord’s permission.

7. Perform cosmetic repairs

It is legally regulated that the landlord is responsible for maintaining the rental property. This also applies to cosmetic repairs , i.e. the typical painting work. However, it can be agreed in the rental agreement that the tenant will take over this work.

However, tenants should check whether the renovation clause in the rental agreement is effective. In many cases, such clauses are ineffective, for example because of too short or rigid deadlines. As a result, the tenant does not have to do anything. However, if the clause is effective, the tenant is obliged to do so.

Tenant obligation

8. Pay repair costs in the event of excessive wear

If renovations are necessary due to normal wear and tear, the landlord is usually responsible. This applies, for example, if a carpet that he has provided is worn out after many years and needs to be replaced. In the case of excessive wear, the situation is different: If a new, high-quality carpet is over after a year or two, the tenant must be liable for the damage.

9. Obligations when handing over the apartment

If the rental contract contains an effective cosmetic repair clause, the tenant is only obliged to do the work when moving out if this is due due to the condition of the apartment. If the apartment has only slight signs of wear and tear, he doesn’t have to do anything. This also applies if the clause on cosmetic repairs in the rental agreement is ineffective. Then the tenant is only obliged to hand over the apartment swept clean.

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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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