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April 2000

Staying Power

Keeping your lanlord from giving you the boot

Last month, we examined the various grounds on which tenants (Mieter) can terminate a rental contract (Mietvertrag). This month, we look at what happens when your landlord (Vermieter) wants to evict you.

First, the good news: if you have a lease for an unlimited (unbefristet) period, in a house or an apartment in which your landlord does not live, and you pay your rent on time each month, you have a high degree of security. Your landlord can get you out only in certain strictly defined circumstances, in which s/he has a “legitimate interest” (berechtigtes Interesse). Three main possibilities exist:

(1) Eigenbedarf: The landlord needs your home for himself or a close relative to live in (not to use as an office). This is the most common reason given, and is a particular danger to those occupying Eigentumswohnungen — i.e., in a block of flats in which each apartment belongs to a different owner. Strict rules govern this possibility; for example, the landlord must tell you for whom your home is required and why.

(2) Erhebliche Vertragsverletzung: If you are in serious breach of your contract — for example, you do not pay your rent on time, or you sublet without permission — you run the risk of being thrown out. In extreme cases, your lease can be terminated immediately (fristlose Kündigung).

(3) Hinderung an einer angemessenen wirtschaftlichen Verwertung: This applies only in extreme cases in which your continued occupancy renders the property totally uneconomic for the landlord. It does not allow the landlord to evict you simply to put up the rent or to sell the property.

A notice of termination (Kündigung) must always be given to you in writing and within the legal notice period (see last month). But even if one of the above three conditions applies to you, you can appeal if the termination would cause you unreasonable hardship (unzumutbare Härte). Such reasons include old age, frailty, illness, the latter stages of pregnancy, pending exams and the impossibility of finding suitable alternative accommodation.

Your appeal must normally be given to your landlord at least two months before your tenancy is due to end. The more factors that apply to you, the better your chances are of winning. Seek legal advice.

If you are the sitting tenant when your apartment is first turned into an Eigentumswohnung, you have further protection. In Munich, the new owner currently cannot use reasons (1) or (3) until ten years after buying the apartment have elapsed.

If you live in a house comprising just two apartments — or three, if one was added in the 1990s — and your landlord lives in the other one, you have considerably less protection, as the landlord is not restricted to the three reasons above. You also have reduced protection if you live in a furnished room in your landlord’s home.

It is essential to get advice if your landlord seeks to terminate your contract. By taking the correct action, you may even be able to prolong your limited (befristet) occupancy indefinitely. Advice is given to members of tenants’ organizations: Mieter helfen Mietern, Weißenburger Strasse 25, Tel. 444 88 20 and Mieterverein München, Sonnenstrasse 10, Tel. 552 14 30. Next month: moving out and the three “Ds” — decorating, damage and deposits.

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