Everyone can have a difficult time in which, sometimes, it is not possible to meet all the expenses. In this article we will answer the most frequently asked questions concerning the late payment of house rent.
The rent could not be paid for more than one month, can the landlord give notice of termination of the contract?
Yes, the landlord can terminate the contract with immediate effect if the tenant is in arrears with the payment of two months rent. The same applies if you are in arrears for a longer period of time with partial amounts totalling two monthly rents. The laws §543 and §569 of the German Civil Code (BGB) set what are the regulations for tenancies and, among other things, speak of “not insignificant amounts”, specifying that the amount in arrears should not exceed one month’s rent (not even one euro more).
In accordance with § 569 Abs. 2a BGB, you may also receive a notice of termination of the contract without notice due to non-payment of the deposit. However, the tenant has the possibility to cancel the notice by paying the agreed deposit quickly. As a rule, the rent must be paid on time by the 3rd working day of the current month (unless otherwise agreed with the landlord). It is important that the rent is paid regularly and in full.
The landlord threatened to terminate the contract because of the accumulated arrears. What it can be done?
First of all, you should contact the landlord and ask him to postpone his decision to terminate the lease. You should inform him of the reasons why you are unable to pay the monthly rent and try to discuss with him a possible instalment plan of the arrears. (Warning: never propose an instalment plan payment if you already know that you will not be able to pay it either, it only makes things worst).
It is always better to pay the arrears even before formally receiving the letter of rescission of the contract, because if you do it the landlord will lose the right of rescission. Do not hesitate to contact the Job Center immediately if you need help paying the rent.
When can the landlord present an eviction notice?
If the tenant has been told to leave the flat without notice and he has not been able to move out within the deadline, the landlord can file an eviction notice in court. The eviction documents will be handed over to the tenant by post (yellow envelope).
Important: from the date of delivery of the document, a period of two months will elapse within which the tenant is required to leave the home. (No appeal can be made to the fact that the letter has not been read because it is temporarily out of town).
The landlord has rescinded the contract and filed an eviction notice. Is it still possible to avoid termination of the contract and avoid the eviction?
Yes, but time is short, as the arrears must be paid within two months of the eviction notice. Or you will need to find a public body (e.g. Job Center, Sozialamt) to which you can apply for rent aid and hope that it will take over the arrears.
If in the previous two years the tenant has already been notified of another termination of the contract without notice due to arrears in rent payment, the landlord is no longer obliged to continue to comply with the terms of the contract and he can still decide to terminate it with immediate effect, in this case the social assistance office can only help the tenant to find a new flat.
Please note: If the landlord, due to late payment, has submitted both contract termination without notice and ordinary contract termination, you will need to contact some experts in contract laws. If the lease termination without notice becomes ineffective because the debt has been settled within the grace period, the ordinary termination can still continue. This means that if the landlord persists in his intention, the tenant will still have to move after the end of the regular notice period.
Who should you turn to if, due to low income, there is no real possibility of paying off your arrears?
If the income is not sufficient to pay the rent arrears, you can contact the Job Center or Sozialamt and apply for the payment of the rent arrears. These bodies will only take over the rent arrears in full if: the tenant is able to guarantee rent payments for the current and future months, the tenant has not had any problems in the past with rent payments and the rent amount is reasonable. The intent of the social authorities is to prevent eviction and to prevent people from ending up living on the street.
Depending on the financial situation, rent arrears may be granted by Sozialamt as a one-off subsidy or as a loan. The Job Center, on the other hand, can only grant payment of rent arrears in the form of a loan.
What happens if the Job Center and Sozialamt decide not to take over the backlog?
With the eviction notice you will be asked to leave the flat. The tenant will also be asked to pay the rent arrears and compensation for use (Nutzungsentschädigung). The tenant will receive a complaint and a summons to court by mail. Under no circumstances should the court hearing be skipped, so that the tenant can defend himself against any excessive demands of the landlord and at the same time demand an appropriate eviction period. At the court hearing you will receive an eviction order with the obligation to vacate the flat by a date set by the judge.
At this point it is no longer possible to stay in the flat. In order to save yourself the extremely high eviction costs, it is a good idea to leave the flat voluntarily and on time by informing the landlord and returning the keys. If you do not leave the flat peacefully and within the agreed time, the bailiff will proceed with the forced eviction and charge the costs to the tenant (once the forced eviction procedure has been initiated, everything that is in the flat at that time will have to be left there, so it is better to remove your personal belongings before that date). Forced eviction is only possible after a conviction by the local court and only by the bailiff.
Is there a possibility that the tenant has a say in the timing of the eviction?
Yes, the tenant can apply to the executive court (Vollstreckungsgericht) during the court proceedings and request an eviction period appropriate to his situation. The extension of the eviction period is subject to the condition that from now on the tenant pays the rent on time and proves that he is actively seeking other accommodation. If necessary, an application for an extension must be submitted to the court no later than 14 days before the expiry of the eviction period granted. The maximum extension of the eviction period is one year but must always be granted by the Vollstreckungsgericht. After the expiry of the period, only exceptional cases can prevent eviction and only the executive court can take the decision. In order to ensure that his rights are respected, it is always best for the tenant to be advised and followed by a good lawyer.
What are other bodies offering information on this topic?
The Sozialamt with the section “Soziale Wohnhilfen der Bezirksämter” (Social housing assistance of district offices) and the “Beratungsstellen der Wohnungsbaugesellschaften” (advice centres of housing associations) can offer further information to those in difficulty.
The brochure “Achtung Mietschulden” published by the Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft Schuldner- und Insolvenzberatung Berlin e.V. also provides further important information.