Tenancy law & rent reduction in the case of Schimmel (2023)



Mold in the apartment

Tenancy law

Mold in rented homes is a widespread problem and can be costly. Estimates assume that almost every 10th household in Germany is acutely affected by mold. For house and apartment owners, the question of how mold can be permanently removed arises when it comes to mold. If it is not a secondary infestation and the cause can be traced back to structural defects, this can mean expensive renovation measures.

If the property is rented out, the question of whether the tenant or the landlord has to pay for the costs of cleaning up the mold in the rented apartment can be complicated. The party responsible for the mold infestation is responsible for assuming the costs. However, it is precisely this fact that often has to be clarified in court. This guide aims to present and explain important principles of tenancy law on mold infestation and give advice on how to proceed in the event of existing mold infestation.

Advisory topics:

  • Rights and obligations of the tenant at a glance
  • Tenancy law in the event of mold in the apartment
  • How should tenants proceed in the event of mold growth?
  • Rent reduction in case of disputes regarding the mold in the apartment
  • Court decisions in the event of mold growth
  • Conclusion

Tenancy law & rent reduction in the case of Schimmel (1)

The information given here is only intended to provide an initial overview and does not replace specific legal advice in individual cases!

If there are any doubts about the existing legal situation and the existing rights and obligations, tenants and landlords should seek advice at an early stage. An overview of possible advice centers can be found here.

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Rights and obligations of the tenant at a glance

  • The tenant is obliged to take suitable measures to prevent mold growth
  • The living behavior must be adapted to the living conditions to a reasonable extent
  • There is an obligation to adhere to the agreements in the rental agreement if these have been approved
  • The tenant is obliged to report mold growth to the landlord immediately
  • If there is serious mold growth that is not your own fault, you have the right to a rent reduction

Tenancy law & rent reduction in the case of Schimmel (2)

  • Construction defects do not have to be compensated for by excessive heating and ventilation by the tenant, furniture can be placed in any way
  • In the event of structural defects, the landlord is liable for the damage
  • The tenant is obliged to avert damage to his own person, otherwise claims for damages expire
  • In the event of mold growth that is not at fault, the tenant has the right to terminate the contract without notice

Tenancy law in the event of mold in the apartment

When is the landlord liable for mold growth?

If the mold growth is clearly due to structural defects, the renter is fully liable for the damage. These can be cracks in the masonry, water damage from defective pipelines, leaky roofs or wall cladding. Even after an improperly carried out (energetic) renovation, the landlord is responsible. If the landlord has the apartment refurbished in terms of energy, for example by installing new windows or thermal insulation, he is obliged to inform the tenant whether this refurbishment means heating and ventilation behavior that is adapted to the tenant.

Tenancy law & rent reduction in the case of Schimmel (4)

If the landlord does not comply with this duty of disclosure, the tenant cannot be held responsible for the damage. Furthermore, the tenant cannot be held responsible for mold caused by new building moisture, as the tenant cannot be required to compensate for the new building moisture through extensive heating and ventilation. The tenant can only be held responsible for non-compliance if specific heating and ventilation behavior is anchored in the rental agreement. Since 2009, a ventilation standard (DIN 1946-6) has stipulated that in new buildings and renovations (with more than a third of the windows being replaced) adequate air circulation must take place in the rooms without the assistance of the tenant.

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When is the tenant liable for mold growth?

If the mold infestation cannot be traced back to structural defects, but rather to incorrect living behavior on the part of the tenant, the tenant is liable for the damage caused by the mold infestation. Insufficient heating and ventilation will increase the humidity in the apartment and mold will develop. Indoor plants, aquariums, terrariums that are too wet or drying clothes in the apartment favor mold growth, which is why living habits must be adapted to the circumstances of the apartment. Removing splash water from tiles after showering is also a tenant’s responsibility.

Tenancy law & rent reduction in the case of Schimmel (5)

However, what “appropriate living behavior” means in detail in order to avoid mold has not been clearly clarified by the courts either. There are no specific rules as to how often and how long you have to air the room during the day. While some dishes consider ventilating twice a day for a total of 20-30 minutes as sufficient, other dishes consider ventilating two to four times for around 10 minutes each time as reasonable. However, the courts agree that tilting the window does not mean adequate ventilation, as this does not result in a sufficient exchange of air. The courts also disagree about the appropriate room temperature.

However, there is consensus that the room temperature must not fall below 16 ° C. If the heating and ventilation to prevent mold exceeds a normal level due to special requirements of the apartment, this must be regulated in writing in the rental agreement. The tenant is not obliged to adapt his living behavior to the living conditions to an extent that is no longer justifiable. Only if he specifies such living behavior in an individual agreement can he be held liable in the event of mold growth. The tenant cannot be held responsible for incorrectly set up furniture (too close to the outside walls), as the living conditions must be designed in such a way that the furniture can be set up on the outside walls without any problems.

Tenancy law & rent reduction in the case of Schimmel (6)

How should tenants proceed in the event of mold growth?

What to do if there is mold

If the tenant notices mold growth or moisture damage in the apartment, this must be documented and the landlord must be informed immediately, because the tenant is obliged to report any rental defects. Only if a notification of defects (§536c BGB), which names the defects and requests the landlord to rectify them, is submitted to the landlord, the tenant can enforce his rights. These can include the elimination of defects, claims for damages, termination without notice and a reduction in rent. If the notification of defects is submitted too late and the mold has spread further in the meantime, it may happen that the tenant is complicit in the mold in question and he has to bear part of the costs of the damage.

If the landlord is aware of the mold, he is fundamentally obliged to repair the damage. Often tenants and landlords do not agree on who is responsible for the mold and who pays for the renovation. If the landlord refuses to accept the damage because he sees the tenant’s culpable behavior, it is not necessarily necessary to go to court. First, an attempt should be made to reach an out-of-court settlement between the tenant and the landlord.

Tenancy law & rent reduction in the case of Schimmel (7)

If the tenant wants to make sure that the mold infestation cannot be traced back to their own misconduct, hiring an appraiser is an effective means. Ideally, both parties can agree to commission an expert to determine the cause and thus responsibility for the mold infestation. It is essential to clarify in advance who will pay the appraiser. It should be noted that the result of the expert opinion is not legally binding and cannot necessarily be presented in court, because courts appoint their own experts. For this reason, tenants should think twice about appointing an appraiser on their own, because the money is usually not returned even after winning legal proceedings.


Rent reduction in case of disputes regarding the mold in the apartment

If no agreement can be reached with the landlord, it is possible to reduce the rent independently in order to get the landlord to act. However, there are some risks involved in doing this. If the rent reduction is not justified, i.e. the tenant is responsible for the mold, the landlord has the right to terminate the tenant without notice if the rent arrears exceed two months’ rent. This case law goes back to a court decision from 2012. In addition, the rent arrears must be paid. If the tenant is certain that the landlord is to blame for the mold infestation based on a self-commissioned report, the means of rent reduction in the case of mold is an effective instrument, but even then there is a residual risk. It is better to point out in the notification of defects that a certain part of the rent will be paid under reserve until the mold has been removed. If the tenant gets right in later legal proceedings, he can get this amount and get the money back.

Tenancy law & rent reduction in the case of Schimmel (8)

Tenancy law & rent reduction in the case of Schimmel (9)

If the landlord cannot be induced to act by this measure either, the case can only be clarified in court. A specialist lawyer should then be consulted in advance as to which is the best course of action. It is important that all necessary documents (correspondence with the landlord, photos, etc.) are available and available to the lawyer. Responsibility for the mold infestation is clarified in court at the latest.

Tenancy law & rent reduction in the case of Schimmel (10)

Court decisions in the event of mold infestation - reduce rent in the event of mold

If a tenant asserts his or her right in court, the court must clarify who is responsible for the mold infestation. For this purpose, the court appoints an expert who examines the conditions on site and comes to a final assessment. Even if there are objective criteria for assessing the subject of mold, every court decision is subject to an individual assessment.

In court, it is the landlord’s duty to prove that the mold infestation is not his area of responsibility, i.e. that the damage cannot be attributed to structural defects or damage. Only when the landlord can prove beyond any doubt that he is not responsible for the mold does the tenant have the burden of proof.

The tenant must then prove that he has not contributed to the formation of mold through incorrect living behavior (incorrect heating and ventilation behavior). The judge listens to the arguments, weighs them up against each other and, in conjunction with the expert opinion, comes to a judgment as to who has to bear the costs.

Tenancy law & rent reduction in the case of Schimmel (11)

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Often the question of guilt with regard to mold growth in the rented apartment is not entirely clear. In many cases, both tenants and landlords are responsible for the mold growth. In these cases, the mold can be traced back to structural defects, but the tenant has contributed to its spread through incorrect heating and ventilation behavior. The costs for the damage then often have to be borne in equal parts.

Conclusion - tenancy law and rent reduction in the case of mold

In principle, the party must pay for the costs of the mold remediation that is responsible for the mold infestation. This often leads to disputes between tenants and landlords. In the event of an escalation, a court decides on the question of guilt.

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What is a person to whom property is rented under a lease called? ›

A lessee is a person who rents land or property from a lessor. The lessee is also known as the “tenant” and must uphold specific obligations as defined in the lease agreement and by law.

Can a landlord come into your house without permission in PA? ›

In Pennsylvania, a landlord must give reasonable notice before entering a property – usually, 24-hours advanced notice. There needs to be written notice – if emergency repairs are needed, landlords can enter the property to stop any damage that is occurring.

How long does it take to evict a tenant in Germany? ›

However, the time interval between the notice and the eviction can vary a lot, from 3 to 9 months, depending on the length of the rental relationship and on the urgency of the situation.

Can I cancel rental contract Germany? ›

Indefinite rental agreements in Germany have no termination date. That means that tenants can end their lease by providing a notice. However a landlord can only terminate a rental contract under specific circumstances.

Who is the owner of the property that is rented or leased? ›

key takeaways. A lessor is the owner of an asset that is leased, or rented, to another party, known as the lessee. Lessors and lessees enter into a binding contract, known as the lease agreement, that spells out the terms of their arrangement.

What is the difference between a renter and a lessee? ›

Renting is mostly done for properties or lands. In leasing, the lessee does the servicing and maintenance when they take the equipment on lease. read more. In renting, on the other hand, the landlord does the servicing and maintenance even if the tenant takes the property on rent.

Can a landlord walk around your house without permission? ›

In all states, a landlord can enter the property in an emergency without notice or permission. For example, if a burst pipe in your apartment is leaking into the unit downstairs, your landlord may enter or send someone from the maintenance crew to enter your home if you're not there.

What happens if you don't pay rent in Germany? ›

You're behind on your rental payments: a German landlord can ask the court for eviction if your rental arrears amount up to 2 months of rent or more. Even if you're making partial payments, if you're behind more than the sum of 2 months rent, the landlord can push for eviction.

What if my landlord is not giving my deposit back Germany? ›

If your landlord won't return your Kaution

If your landlord won't return your deposit, you can get help from your tenant association or a lawyer. Your legal insurance might cover the cost of a lawyer.

What is the minimum apartment size for a family in Germany? ›

In general, according to the German Act on Foreign Nationals it has to be guaranteed that the family has sufficient financial means to support itself, that adequate accommodation is available (at least 13 square meters per person), and that all family members are sufficiently covered by a health insurance.

What is the maximum rent increase in Germany? ›

Your tenancy agreement will also lay out any provision for future rent increases. Legally, your landlord cannot increase your rent within the first 12 months of your tenancy contract, or by more than 20% (15% in some federal states) over a three-year period.

Do I have to paint when I move out Germany? ›

It is normal in Germany for the tenant to be responsible for these. Cosmetic repairs include: Painting – the ceiling and the walls. Painting the floors (if applicable)

How do you write a letter to cancel a rental agreement? ›

Contents of a termination of lease letter
  1. Your name and the landlord's name and address.
  2. The date you're writing the letter.
  3. Informing the landlord you're breaking your lease early.
  4. The reason why you're breaking your lease.
  5. The building and apartment you're vacating.
  6. The date by which you're vacating.

Who owns the asset in a lease? ›

Throughout the duration of the lease period, the lessor remains the legal owner of the asset. The risk and rewards related to leased assets are transferred to the lessee. Legal ownership of leased asset transfers from the lessor to the lessee after the end of the lease.

Who owns the most rental property? ›

Of the approximately 50 million rental housing units in the United States, around 41% of the rental units are owned by mom and pop landlords, also known as individual investor landlords.

Who is the owner of the assets that are being leased? ›

In a lease agreement, the owner of the assets is 'lessor' and the party that uses the asset is known as 'lessee'.

What is minimum rent? ›

Minimum Rent or Fixed Rent

It is the amount that has to be paid by the lessee to the lessor whether or not he has derived benefit from the asset. Hence, it is also called Dead Rent or Rock Rent. Minimum rent can be a fixed sum for every year or may change every year as per the terms of the agreement.

Is a renter called a tenant? ›

A tenant is someone who pays rent for the place they live in, or for land or buildings that they use. Regulations placed clear obligations on the landlord for the benefit of the tenant. Synonyms: leaseholder, resident, renter, occupant More Synonyms of tenant.

How long does a lease last? ›

The three popular lease lengths are month-to-month, 6-months, and year-long lease: but is one better than the other? There is no one right answer—it will depend upon the landlord's preference. You should also account for eviction laws in your state and how that would impact any eviction or early lease termination.

Can my landlord show people around my house? ›

Your landlord has the right to show the house while you're still living in it, but the laws in many states give landlords the right to enter a rental property only during normal business hours, unless there is an emergency.

Who is responsible for repairs? ›

Your landlord has to do anything your tenancy agreement says they have to do. Your landlord is also generally responsible for keeping in repair: the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors.

What is the Civil Code 1954 violation? ›

Civil Code section 1954 goes on to provide that: Landlord may only enter during normal business hours, unless tenant consents otherwise or is present during the entry, there is an emergency, or tenant has surrendered the premises. Landlord must give reasonable notice of their intent to enter.

What happens if you don't pay rent in Canada? ›

If the tenant does not pay or move out, you can apply to the LTB for an order to evict the tenant and to collect the rent that the tenant owes; or. You can apply to the LTB for an order to collect the rent that the tenant owes, without asking the LTB to make an order to evict the tenant.

Is Germany a cheap place to live? ›

Low Living Costs

Despite being one of the world's richest countries, Germany has relatively low living expenses, similar to other European Union countries. In terms of cost of living, Germany ranks 10th, making it cheaper to live here than in the UK, Denmark, Norway, France, or the Netherlands.

Can rent be negotiated in Germany? ›

Can I negotiate the rent with the landlord? Many places in Germany have more prospective tenants then there are flats. So, although German law strongly favours tenants, the landlords have the upper hand when they're choosing which tenants can move in, in the first place. Usually trying to negotiate won't work.

What is the deposit for a house in Germany? ›

In Germany, the Kaution, also known as the Mietkaution, is a security deposit that renters must pay to their landlords upon signing a rental agreement. It is normally equal to three months' rent and is meant to safeguard the landlord in the event that the renter causes property damage or fails to pay the rent.

What is the bank guarantee for rental deposit Germany? ›

With the rent deposit guarantee, you ensure liquidity and financial freedom instead of paying the landlord a deposit of up to three months' cold rent. If the landlord makes a claim, he will receive the requested money on first demand from the insurance underwriting agency.

Can I break my lease early in Germany? ›

Leases have a 3 month notice period (Kündigungsfrist). If you want to end your lease, you must tell your landlord 3 months in advance. Some leases have a shorter notice period, but the maximum notice period is 3 month. You must cancel before the 3rd work day of the month.

How much is average 1 bedroom rent in Germany? ›

What is the average cost of rent in Germany? Average rent costs in Germany range from €300 to €800 per calendar month for a room in shared accommodation and from €500 to €1,346 for a one-bedroom flat. The overall average rental price is €750 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Can a family of 5 live in a 2 bedroom apartment Canada? ›

There is no right or wrong way for a family to live in a two bedroom apartment – and it's a perfectly normal living arrangement for many Canadian families. Those that make it work – even those with a one bedroom apartment – say with enough planning they have more than enough space.

What is normal rent in Germany? ›

In general, the average monthly expenses in Germany can add up to €1,698 for a single person or €3,561 for a family of 4. However, these averages can vary depending on where you live, as rental prices are higher in cities popular among expats. For instance, the average rent in Germany is €800 per month.

What is the largest legal rent increase? ›

In 2023, the maximum most landlords can raise a tenant's rent without the approval of the Landlord and Tenant Board is 2.5% (rent control).

How is rent calculated in Germany? ›

The index rent is based on the consumer price index set by the Federal Statistical Office (Statistisches Bundesamt) and may be increased in line with the cost of living in Germany. The maximum amount of the rent increase depends on the change in the consumer price index.

What percentage of Germany is rent? ›

The study, based on a 2022 microcensus, shows that the average German tenant household spends well over a quarter of income (27.8%) on rent. In larger cities, with more than 100,000 inhabitants, 28.9% of income was the average, falling to 25.9% in towns of up to 20,000 inhabitants.

What do I need to move to Germany from Canada? ›

People from other non-EU/EEA nations usually have to apply for a residence permit BEFORE they arrive in Germany. Although Canadian and US citizens get up to 90 days for a stay in Germany without a travel visa, it is wise to begin the application process for a residence permit soon after your arrival in Germany.

Can you buy a house in Germany if you're not a citizen? ›

Unlike other countries in the European Union, there are no restrictions for foreigners to buy real estate there. This is a safe investment, and you can benefit from rising house prices. This guide explains what you need to know about buying property in Germany as a foreigner.

Am I too old to move to Germany? ›

Legally there are many opportunities to move to Germany and work in Germany even in the age of over 30 or even 40 or 50. However your resettlement will most probably only be a success, if you are open-minded about where you end up. Moving abroad for people over 30 can be an adventure and it can also be lonely.

How much notice do I need to end my tenancy in Ontario? ›

You must give your landlord at least 30 days' notice. If you have a daily or weekly tenancy, you must give the landlord at least 28 days' notice.

How do I give notice to my landlord in Germany? ›

Termination in Writing

You should ask the Housing Office for the necessary paperwork for a termination notice to your landlord. After signing the termination notice, you must send it to your landlord, return receipt requested, by German Mail or hand carry it and deliver it in the presence of an unbiased witness.

What is another word for rental person? ›

synonyms for renter

On this page you'll find 16 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to renter, such as: occupant, boarder, leaseholder, lessee, roomer, and rentee.

What is a person who is renter? ›

A renter is a person who is paying to live in a residence that does not belong to them. The rental agreements contractually obligate the renter to pay costs not covered by normal insurance.

Is a tenant also called a lessee? ›

The agreement between the landlord and tenant governing the tenancy is called a lease or a rental agreement. It establishes a tenant's right to use property for a specified length of time in exchange for payment of rent.

What is a Rentee? ›

rentee ​Definitions and Synonyms

​noun. DEFINITIONS1. 1. someone who rents something, especially property.

What is the difference between a renter and a tenant? ›

A renter is a person who pays rent in other to use something that to belongs to someone else be it a house, room or even a car. But a tenant can be a renter, free occupier or a caretaker of someone's property eg. House, Room etc. Save this answer.

What do you call a good tenant? ›

Qualified tenants are those that have a proven track record of financial responsibility and rule-abiding behavior, indicating their ability to pay rent and not damage the property.

What is another word for under tenants? ›

(noun) in the sense of leaseholder. Synonyms. leaseholder. inhabitant. lessee.

What is it called when you are a landlord? ›

A landlord is the owner of a house, apartment, condominium, land, or real estate which is rented or leased to an individual or business, who is called a tenant (also a lessee or renter). When a juristic person is in this position, the term landlord is used. Other terms include lessor and owner.

What does renters insurance cover? ›

Renters insurance is an insurance policy that can cover theft, water backup damage, certain natural disasters, bodily injuries and more in a rented property. If you rent an apartment, home or even a dorm, renters insurance is recommended for protecting your space and belongings in the event of a covered accident.

Who is the lessee of the owner? ›

Is a Lessee Tenant or Landlord? When the asset under lease is a piece of real estate, then the lessee is a tenant and the lessor is the landlord. The lessee is the temporary occupant of the property, and the lessor owns the property in which the lessee is staying.

What type of lease is a lessee? ›

A lessee is defined as the entity paying for the use of specific property from a lessor. For example, if a person leases a vehicle from a car dealership, the person using the car is the lessee. Conceptually, the lessee is paying the lessor for the “right to use” the asset.

What is another word for Rentee? ›

synonyms for rentee

On this page you'll find 7 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to rentee, such as: occupant, boarder, leaseholder, lessee, roomer, and sublessee.

Why do we call them landlords? ›

It goes back hundreds of years, when the owner of the property really was a lord. Years later, when commoners could afford a mortgage they started to rent out rooms (houses came later). The nessaccary paperwork still had the words land lord on them and over the years the name stuck.

What is the opposite of renter? ›

▲ Opposite of a person who occupies land or property rented from a landlord. landlord.


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