Real Estate

Repair or modernization? Tenants have these rights

The ownership rate in Germany is lower than almost anywhere else in Europe. As a result, there are also many tenants who often do not know when they can ask their landlord to repair the apartment or parts of it.

Low ownership rate and uninformed tenants

After Switzerland, Germany is the country with the lowest home ownership rate, with 53 percent in Europe, and far behind countries like Sweden, Belgium or even France. As a result, the proportion of tenants is relatively high and in the cities of Munich or Berlin it is becoming increasingly difficult to find an affordable apartment, which also increases the power of landlords to negotiate with tenants. As a result, tenants tend to avoid inconvenience with the owners for fear of losing their home and, at the same time, forego rights that they actually would have. The often overly complex bureaucracy also plays into the hands of the landlords, since their tenants are often not aware of all their rights and consequently do not exercise them. Landlords, on the other hand, are usually well organized and use their rights vis-à-vis the tenant where it is useful to them.

Maintenance or modernization

According to a representative of the IVD (Immobilienverband Deutschland) in relation to the Frankfurter Rundschau, the difference between maintenance and modernization is in many cases only slight. As an example, she shows that there are two options as a landlord in the event of leaky windows. On the one hand, you can seal the leak with a rubber seal, which would then be a maintenance measure, but on the other hand, the house owner can use new, functional windows, which would then be understood as modernization. The landlord is not prescribed what measures he has to take, because the only requirement is that a landlord must maintain the condition of the apartment. Furthermore, the contracts often contain a clause stipulating that the tenant should pay small repairs of 80-100 euros, but a maximum of eight percent of the annual rent, if the objects are subject to frequent use by the tenant .

When can the rent be increased?

In Berlin, due to the housing market situation, a rental cover will most likely be introduced, which could possibly also come into force in other large cities. With this one hopes to be able to better control the rental prices in these metropolitan areas. So there will be different rules for landlords than elsewhere. Currently, landlords who implement modernization measures on their properties and thereby improve their living conditions can pass on the costs incurred to the tenants, but only to a limited extent. Ulrich Rupertz explains to the Frankfurter Rundschau from the German Tenants’ Association that the net cold rent may increase by up to eight percent as a result, but only if the rent is therefore a maximum of three euros per square meter over the next six years and for rents under seven euros per square meter maximum rises two euros.

Image sources: hanohiki /

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