Register own use

In many German cities, living space is in short supply. Prospective tenants come in droves to viewings, bring application portfolios with them, and yet in most cases have to continue their search. And even landlords sometimes find themselves in the situation of needing additional living space. In such cases, however, notice of termination to the tenant is only permissible if they properly register their own need.

What needs to be considered?

If the landlord wants to register own use for a house or apartment, it must first be clear for whom he is doing so. The legislator has granted a relatively wide scope in this respect: In addition to the landlord himself, relatives of the first, second and third degree are generally eligible – i.e. children, parents and grandparents, but also siblings, nieces, nephews or parents-in-law. Own use may also be permissible for persons outside the family, for example, if the landlord is dependent on a caregiver and this person is to live in the immediate vicinity.

The declaration of own need is one of the major exceptions when it comes to tenants’ protection against termination. Once a tenancy agreement has been concluded, the landlord can then register own need at any time. In doing so, he must observe a deadline, namely that the notice must be demonstrably served by the third working day of a month so that it becomes valid at the end of the month after next. If the tenant has already lived in the property for five or eight years, the deadline is extended by three months in each case – in the worst case, the landlord must therefore reckon with a waiting period of nine months.

The notice of termination must contain the cause or reason for it to be effective. In it, the landlord should justify his claim to own use in a comprehensible and clear manner. There are also situations in which the landlord’s declared housing need does not stand up in court. For example, if a physically impaired person wants to move into an attic apartment without an elevator. Or if an apartment, for example from 100 square meters upwards, is intended for the offspring who are currently in training – this is referred to as an oversized housing requirement. Even if the property is planned as a second or vacation home, the landlord should specify the expected period of use in as much detail as possible.

 

And the tenants?

For tenants, the registration of own need by the landlord does not necessarily mean that they have to leave their apartment. There have already been various court rulings in which the landlord’s legitimate interest was recognized, but the tenant’s protection prevailed. However, this requires a special case of hardship, which usually only exists in the case of elderly or sick people.

If a tenant of advanced age has lived in an apartment for decades and also has many social contacts, such uprooting may be unreasonable. Likewise for sick people who live close to doctors or therapists. Or if a move would further impair their health. However, a certificate from the family doctor is not sufficient for this: An expert must prepare an expert opinion for the court. If the expert concludes that there is no case of hardship, the tenant is left with further costs.

Tip

Landlords should talk openly with their tenants and inform them of their plans at an early stage. However, the tenant’s circumstances should also be taken into account when making the decision.

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