Rent increase of 570 percent

rent increase of 570 percent

An attic apartment in the siechenstrabe. Down dense traffic. Upstairs a studio full of paintings. Here lives and paints the famous bamberger artist michael cleff. From his jerky balcony, cleff has a beautiful view of the cathedral and the towers of the monastery st. Michael.

At the end of march, the idyll was shattered. "I feel threatened in my existence. That is a hammer, which one has slammed me here before the latz." Cleff points to a letter from his landlord, who recently bought the house with store and four apartments and plans a general renovation in summer 2012. The artist, who has gladly accepted the disadvantages of a simply furnished apartment, knew that there would be a rent increase when the windows and roof, heating, electricity lines and floor were renewed.

But what fluttered across his desk can only be described very inadequately as a rent increase. The owner of the house is announcing a surcharge of 1291 euros per month for the period after the refurbishment. At the current rent cleffs of 272 euros, this corresponds to an increase of over 570 percent.

The fatal thing about it: at first glance, there is nothing wrong with the landlord’s reasoning. He refers to paragraph 559 of the civil code. The law stipulates that landlords may pass on to tenants the costs of structural alterations that permanently increase the utility value of a rented property.

Unlike normal rent increases, which are capped at a maximum of 20 percent within three years, there is no upper limit here. Eleven percent of the modernization costs can be passed on to the tenant per year – no mean feat when you consider that renovations can quickly add up to several figures.

For michael cleff, the harsh interpretation of this law by his landlord means: after the renovation, the freelance artist had to pay 1563 euros in cold rent, which corresponds to an interest rate per square meter of 22 euros, he has calculated – a multiple of the local comparable rents. "With the best will in the world, I can’t afford that. It is as if marble baths and golden faucets were installed here ."

Even thomas kliemann, chairman of the bamberg tenants’ association, has not yet come across such a case of rent increases. The rental market in bamberg is still favorable as it is. Even the most expensive student apartments were well below this extreme level.

So only a single case? Kliemann, a lawyer specializing in landlord and tenant law, is concerned about the increasing tendency of homeowners in bamberg to raise rents, sometimes drastically, by way of modernization. The motive is clear for kliemann: "the modernization paragraph is the only way to increase the rent without limits." He does not want to exclude the possibility that this could also be a sign of the rougher conditions on the embattled bamberg housing market: "apartments are scarce, and many tenants are afraid of a legal dispute."

Nevertheless, modernization is not a free pass for landlords either. Legislation distinguishes between maintenance costs that were incurred anyway (e.G. For dilapidated windows) and genuine modernization expenses that give a dwelling a higher utility value – through additional furnishings or energy improvements. As a result, many items are often disputed in court, and expensive expert opinions are required. Kliemann believes that the renovation costs of a 70-square-meter apartment could be as high as 140,000 euros. "It must be assumed that the tenant is to be driven out of the building."

Martina bauernschmitt, a lawyer with the homeowners’ and landowners’ association, has not yet experienced a case in bamberg where a comparable increase in rents has occurred. "This is an extreme individual case", says the real estate expert.

Despite the difficult market environment in bamberg, she does not see a growing tendency on the part of homeowners to foist the costs of modernization on their tenants. "This already fails because the landlords have to pay the costs for the renovation in advance. Many people are also aware that additional costs, which often arise during modernization, cannot be passed on because the tenants could not pay them at all – and then they do without them."

The owner wanted to comment on the "pending case" not our. However, he referred to the law that provides for an eleven percent apportionment of costs. The fact that the renovation of the apartment cost 140,000 euros is mainly due to the condition of the apartment: "it’s like a new building"."

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