Real Estate

Stop payment? What tenants should now look out for in the Corona crisis

Short-time work, termination or simply no more orders: the corona crisis is having a financial impact on many. But the running costs want to be paid – for example the rent. What tenants should consider.

The problem: If a payment arrears of more than one month’s rent arises, the landlord can basically terminate without notice, Jutta Hartmann from the German Tenants’ Association (DMB) clarifies. The reason why the tenant could not pay then no longer mattered.

But there is good news: For example, if you have lost your job due to the current situation and have problems with rent payments, you do not have to fear losing your apartment now.

Relief for affected tenants

Because the Bundestag and Bundesrat have passed a law to help tenants. After that, they must not be given notice of termination if they have payment difficulties by the end of June due to the corona crisis. “To do this, however, they have to convince their landlord that this is really due to the virus pandemic,” says Gerold Happ of the Haus & Grund Deutschland owner association.

Important in this context: “The obligation to pay the rent remains in principle,” explains Hartmann. “So tenants still owe the sum.” They must settle their debts within the next two years – by June 2022 at the latest.

Do not stop rent payment without comment

Simply not paying the rent now is not a good idea. “You already have to inform the landlord that you cannot currently pay,” says Happ. If you don’t do this, you still risk termination. The protection of the new law applies expressly to those affected by the corona crisis. “I have to prove it on my own,” says Happ.

And how? “You don’t have to take an oath of disclosure,” says Happ. “But you have to show the landlord a connection with the current situation.” This can be done in many ways, for example by submitting the termination of the employer or canceling projects or events or a bank statement that shows that no more money is being received.

“But landlords shouldn’t ask for too much evidence either,” explains Jutta Hartmann. “Tenants should not take an affidavit, even if the law calls this option,” said the spokeswoman for the tenants’ association. “That can be a disadvantage later.”

Talk to the landlord

In order to avoid problems or misunderstandings, it is now important that tenants and landlords get into conversation. “Many small landlords are themselves affected by the crisis,” says Happ. “Solutions can often be found in conversation.” Private landlords are usually not interested in quick layoffs. “In the end, I don’t get anything for an empty apartment.”

Jutta Hartmann also advises to think about alternatives with the landlord. “For example, the rent could be deferred,” she explains. This could perhaps set the due date so that the tenant concerned can then pay again. “Or the rent is temporarily reduced.” Tenants could also consider possible housing benefit claims.

Important to note: The rent debts that arise due to the Corona crisis must earn interest. The default interest is based on the official base rate. Landlords are entitled to five percentage points above this base rate. According to Happ, tenants currently have to expect around four percent interest on their debts.

Agree repayment plan

It is best to agree on the repayment right away. “It is not legally regulated how you have to pay the money back,” explains Hartmann. “It doesn’t really matter whether that happens gradually or all at once.” There is no way around the fact that the money has to be paid back.

Tenants and landlords should try to agree that there is planning certainty for both sides. For example, installment payments could be agreed. In this way, tenants can prevent the additional payment from causing them financial difficulties. In turn, landlords have an overview of when they can expect payments.

Whatever tenants and landlords agree on, one thing is important from Hartmann’s point of view: “For evidence, agreements should be made in writing.”

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