Rent a smart apartment: What tenants should know

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Last year was generally a good year for tenants. First came the rent brake, then the Federal Court of Justice ruled in favor of tenants on the issue of apartment handover and on June 1st, 2015 the so-called ordering principle for brokerage contracts came into force. Anyone who wants to rent an apartment today can look forward to a number of advantages.

Tip for renting an apartment – judgment on apartment renovations

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The renovation of rental apartments after the end of the tenancy often leads to disputes between tenants and landlords. The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) decided in mid-March 2015 in favor of the tenants. If an apartment is handed over unrenovated, clauses on cosmetic repairs are per se invalid. “The renovation clause unreasonably disadvantages the tenant. Because he has to remove the previous tenant’s lead. In addition, he may have to return the apartment to the landlord in a better condition than he received it, ”says Dietlind Weinland, spokeswoman for the Federal Court of Justice. That means: if you don’t get the apartment freshly renovated, you only have to leave it in a “swept clean” condition and not paint the apartment fresh. Millions of rental contracts are affected and millions of tenants breathed a sigh of relief when the BGH announced the verdict.

Bundestag decides to limit rental prices

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The rent brake protects tenants in metropolitan areas from large price jumps when moving house and from overpriced rental contracts. The new resolution: In the case of new rentals, the rent may in future be a maximum of ten percent above the level of the local comparable rent. Justice Minister Maas sees the rent brake as a benefit for 400,000 tenants and a total of five million apartments. However, the rental price brake is limited in time and limited to certain regions. Critics therefore fear that the new law will hardly have any effect.

Rent an apartment with a broker – the ordering principle

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The new law stipulates that when renting the property, the agent who hired him must pay the agent. “The previous practice of the broker looking for a tenant for the landlord and then passing the costs on to the tenant will no longer be possible,” says Justice Minister Maas.

Since the beginning of June last year, a tenant only has to pay a broker if he has asked him in writing to look for an apartment for him and he then rents this apartment. A realtor can charge a tenant up to two net rents plus VAT if he has successfully brokered a rental apartment. Tenants can now save this amount.

Pay rental deposit by bank guarantee

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There are other benefits to renters that many renters are unlikely to even be aware of. Tenants do not necessarily have to pay the deposit themselves all at once. Some banks offer one Bank guarantee for the deposit: The tenant does not have to pay the deposit to the landlord, but keeps his cash for himself. The respective bank takes on the deposit obligation towards the landlord instead of the tenant. The tenant pays for this annually z. B. 3.5% of the rental deposit amount as interest to the bank. “A bank guarantee is basically possible for anyone who has their main place of residence in Germany and is at least 18 years old – provided they have a creditworthiness”, explains Ulf Meyer from SWK Bank. If the landlord calls on the guarantee after the end of the rental period, the bank usually pays out on first request and the customer receives information requesting payment of the guarantee amount within a certain period of time. Alternatively, a loan can be taken out using the guarantee amount.

Save taxes with operating costs


What also very few tenants know: Even if you haven’t hired a cleaning lady or a craftsman, you can get your money back with your next tax return. These services do not have to be booked yourself, it is sufficient for the landlord to take care of it. The tax authorities have been involved in household-related services since 2003 – since 2006, taxes can also be recovered with tradesmen’s bills. 20% of the labor cost can thus be deducted directly from the tax – the upper limit for household-related services is 4,000 euros, for craftsmen’s services it is 1,200 euros. So if costs for caretaker, property management, building cleaning, winter service, pest control, reading meters or landscape gardeners are incurred in the operating cost accounting, these can be deducted at 20 percent.