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Saturday, March 5, 2011

End of Lease Contract in Germany (Hause Vertrag) – Points to take care of

As there are often problems at the end of a lease contract with the landlord (alleged damages, renovation demands, and deposit refund) here are the important points to heed:

1. If you want to terminate the lease, the termination notice must be in written form. An oral or notice via email is not valid.

2. Document the state of the flat at the time of returning with photos

3. If there is a formal handover procedure, do not do it alone, especially if the landlord is accompanied by witnesses (housemaster, etc.).

4. Oftentimes, the landlord issues a formal handover protocol. Be careful as to its content. Do not sign it if the landlord includes descriptions and obligations which you do not understand and with which you disagree. At least make sure to add before signing the following caveat: “Unter ausdrücklichem Widerspruch und ohne Anerkenntnis einer Rechtspflicht“.

5. With regard to the deposit refund: Prepare a letter which states that you seek back the deposit as soon as possible to be wired to your following account xy. If you do not want to divulge your bank account data, you can explicitly name a third person with full address and account details who is your confidant and state in the letter that the deposit should be paid back to this person. Also, state your email address and state that any further correspondence should be sent to this email address. Have this letter signed by the landlord and make a copy.

6. If on the day of hand over, the landlord is unwilling to accept the keys because he wants you to do work or clean up in the apartment, which you refuse to do, do not keep the keys but insist he take them back. Even if you are willing to do the desired work, first formally hand over the keys and ask for the landlord to provide access to flat on a given day. Retaining the keys could subject you to further payment claims.

These are some points to take care of at the end of a lease.

Likewise, when first renting an accommodation make sure you do not sign a hand over protocol which states that the apartment is in a flawless condition. You can never be 100% sure it is. Also, avoid highlighting some visible defects as an exception. This is even more dangerous. When a dispute arises later, it will be argued that not mentioned defects have been caused by you as a tenant. On the subject of defects: If any irregularity occurs, do not keep silent and ignore it. Instead, inform the landlord immediately of this irregularity in written form.

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