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What German landlords can and cannot do – Turn off the water? Ration electricity? Turn down the heating?

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German landlords

Do you know what German landlords can and cannot do? Do you know how you can defend yourself against any measures taken by your landlord?

German landlords: Energy costs are skyrocketing! Because of rising gas and electricity prices, some landlords in Germany have started to save for the winter. Many find that impossible, Federal Building Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) even illegal. In Hilden (North Rhine-Westphalia), primary schools and sports clubs will no longer have hot water until autumn.

Can your German landlord turn off the hot water?

No! The landlord owes the tenant around the clock supply of hot water to the apartment. If the landlord interrupts the water supply, this is a lack of rent and the rent can be reduced.

How much the rent is reduced is always decided individually by the courts. In comparable cases, rent reductions of between 7.5 and 15 percent have been considered appropriate.

Can the landlord lower the water temperature?

The water temperature must be at least 40 to 50 degrees after ten seconds or five liters of water consumption.

︎Below 40 degrees, the tenant can reduce the rent by five to ten percent. A ten percent reduction in rent is possible if the water is only 40 degrees warm after five minutes.

Can the landlord turn off the heating?

That mainly depends on the time of year. As a rule, the period between October 1st and April 30th is considered the heating period. From May 1st, the landlord could switch off the heating completely.

Can the landlord lower the heating temperature?

Yes. During the winter months, however, a minimum temperature of between 20 and 22 degrees should be reached. However, at night the landlord can lower the temperature to 18 degrees. If it gets colder, you can reduce the rent.

Example: In the event of a 30-day heating failure in the entire apartment, a 50 percent rent reduction can be considered. If the heating fails for only three days, it would be five percent less.

Can the landlord turn off the gas or the electricity at night?

Your German landlord cannot simply turn off gas and electricity or ration them. The supply of energy is also part of the contractual use of the rental apartment.

How much time does the landlord have to rectify defects?

The experts from the Berlin Tenants’ Association advise that a specific deadline for elimination should be set in a defect report.

▶︎ 14 days are appropriate for normal defects. In the event of a burst pipe, a winter heating failure or other emergencies, the landlord must act immediately.

What if the landlord doesn’t respond?

If the landlord has not repaired the damage despite several reminders, you can withhold part of the rent as a means of pressure.

Caution: If you withhold too much rent, you may be in default of payment. Then there is a risk of termination without notice.

There are no statutory stipulations by what percentage the rent is reduced. The tenancy law does not specify exact rent reduction rates.

Consult in advance with experts from a tenant association or with a legal advisor!

▶︎ If you want to be on the safe side here, you can tell the landlord that the rent will only be paid conditionally. The reduced amount can then be claimed later.

REMEMBER: German landlords are not allowed to change the house rules!

It is not easy to change house rules that are part of the contract. Your landlord may not unilaterally change house rules associated with the rental agreement. It can only be redesigned if the tenants agree.

TIP:

You should think about joining a local tenants association. Find over 300 tenants’ associations in your area HERE. Enter your zip code or a place name and get the full contact details of your local tenant association.


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