Rent reduction in Germany


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As a renter in Germany, Expats can ask for a rent reduction as soon as a significant defect occurs in the rented apartment.

Typical deficiencies that justify a rent reduction in Germany are:

  • mold in the apartment
  • a broken heating system
  • constant construction site noise
  • legionella in drinking water,
  • permanent construction sites
  • permanent stench in the stairwell. 

The difficulty, however, is often that it is not clear by what percentage the rent can be reduced under which circumstances.

How much a rent reduction you as a renter in Germany receives can only be determined by the specific circumstances of the individual case. Essentially, it depends on how serious the impairments caused by the defects are. If an apartment has become completely uninhabitable as a result of a defect, a reduction of 100 percent is possible.

When a tenant can reduce the rent

In principle, the cases in which a tenant can reduce the rent are not specifically named in the German Civil Code (BGB). Instead, it is regulated by law that a rent reduction is possible if the “contractual use” of a rental object is significantly restricted. The rent reduction is permitted from the point in time at which the defect occurred. However, the tenant must immediately notify the landlord of the existence of the defect.

Correct procedure in case of rent reduction

Tenants shouldn’t just pay less rent without comment. First you have to inform the landlord about the defect – because he may not know anything about it yet. He must then act immediately and eliminate the defect.

In order to get rid of the defect, it is advisable for tenants to give the landlord a reasonable deadline. According to many experts, this is usually three to four days. However, there is no legal regulation as to how long such a period may be.

Notification of defects to the landlord

Broken light switches, construction site noise or a burst water pipe: If a deficiency occurs in the rented apartment, tenants should reach for a pen. The notification of defects is mandatory!

Beware of unjustified rent reductions

Before every rent reduction, it is advisable to consult an expert – either from a specialist lawyer or from the tenants’ association. Because: Unjustified rent reductions carry the risk that the landlord will sue the tenant and the latter will have to repay the amount that has not been paid. If he does not do this, the landlord can even terminate him in extreme cases.

Rent reduction in Germany

Retroactive rent reduction

A retroactive rent reduction is also possible under certain conditions. In a case negotiated before the Federal Court of Justice (Az .: III ZR 100/18), the tenant reported a defect to his landlord, which could not be remedied for several years because the cause could not be determined. 

The legally ignorant tenant was of the opinion at the time that a rent reduction had to be approved by the landlord and asked for one, which the landlord did not agree to. Later, however, the tenant was right at the highest instance: a rent reduction is possible from the point in time from which the usability of the rented property is reduced or canceled (Section 536 BGB) and the lessor has been notified of the defect (Section 536c (2) sentence 2 no.1 BGB). As a result, a retroactive rent reduction is also possible.

Before such a confrontation occurs, tenants and landlords should always try to resolve the matter amicably. In many cases, a solution can be found that both parties can live with.

Rent reduction in Germany

What landlords can do if the tenant reduces the rent

  • First of all, it must be checked whether the defect, as claimed by the tenant, is actually present. Only insignificant defects that do not significantly affect the practical value of the apartment do not entitle to a rent reduction. But what is irrelevant and what is not is always a dispute between tenants and landlords.
  • Checked whether the tenant himself is responsible for the defect through improper use of the rented property. If this is the case, the tenant has no right to a rent reduction and must bear the costs of repairing the damage.
  • If a defect was known when the contract was concluded and the tenant accepted it, the defective apartment is the contractual object owed; a rent reduction is then not possible.
  • If a property is immediately renovated, the tenant has no right to a rent reduction in the first three months of the work, for example due to construction noise.

FAQ rent reduction

What are the reasons for a rent reduction?

Whenever there is a deviation from the contractually agreed condition due to a not only insignificant defect, a rent reduction is possible.

How much can the rent reduction be?

There are no specific rules for calculating how high a Metreduction may be. 
The more serious the lack of rent, the higher the rent reduction can be.

Does the landlord have to approve the rent reduction?

The tenant must inform the landlord of the defect and can reduce the rent for the period during which the defect was present.

Does the rent reduction have to be paid back as soon as the defect has been remedied?

The rent is reduced for the period from the appearance of the defect to its removal. 
Only when the defect has been remedied is the full rent payable again.

Is a retroactive rent reduction possible?

Under certain conditions, the rent can also be reduced retrospectively. 
The prerequisite is that the landlord has been notified of the defect.

Are there alternatives to rent reduction?

If the landlord does not remedy the defect despite notification and the setting of a deadline, the tenant can undertake a replacement by commissioning a craftsman himself and settling the costs with the landlord.

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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