A top court just made it harder for landlords to make you paint your flat before you leave
The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has strengthened the rights of tenants to leave cosmetic repairs to their landlord.
A tenant living in Celle, Lower Saxony refused to paint his rented apartment once he moved out, even though he made an agreement with the previous tenant to renovate the property in exchange for some of her old furniture.
The landlady, finding his renovations to be inadequate, demanded that he pay her damages of €800 so she could repaint the apartment. Since the apartment was unrenovated when he moved in, the highest civil judges ruled in the tenant's favour on Wednesday.
According to a landmark ruling in 2015, tenants do not have to make any cosmetic repairs to an unrenovated apartment. The BGH passed this law on the premise that it would be unfair for tenants to leave properties in a better state than when they found them.
The court applied its judgement in 2015 to this unusual case from Lower Saxony. It ruled that the agreement between the present and previous tenant was ineffective and that the previous tenant is under no obligation to pay the damages.
Consequently, when it comes to renting an unrenovated property, tenants don’t have to abide by renovation clauses in their rental contract. They can simply ignore clauses in their contract that oblige them to, for example, paint the walls, whitewash the ceilings, and renovate the bathroom and kitchen every three years.
Tenants who faced a similar situation to the tenant living in Lower Saxony and already renovated their apartment despite the ineffective clauses can seek compensation. The landlord has to offer reasonable compensation for the tenant’s time and the costs of materials.
While tenants who move into an unrenovated apartment are under no obligation to make cosmetic improvements, they cannot simply pack up their boxes and leave. They must address signs of wear and tear, leaving the property in the same condition they found it in.
Tenants are also required to remove any fixtures they added to the property, from a bathroom shelf to laminate flooring, but can come to an agreement with their landlord.