Sunday, 6 October 2013

English Translation of the German Civil Code - German Tenants Rights

There is a lot of confusion amongst international investors about tenants' rights in the German Residential Market. One thing needs to be clarified at the outset, German tenants have more rights than investors from western societies are used to. The historical background is the vast destruction of residential buildings during the war and a need to protect the needy in a time of scarcity.

Now it has turned into an election ritual to improve tenats' rights prior to elections since the majority of voters in Germany are still tenants and not owners. The conservative Merkel government makes no exception in this game and has enabled local governments to limit the rent increase to 15% over a time period of 3 years just before the elections.

The main legal structure for tenancy law is the German Civil Code (BGB - Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch) and there is an official translation available on the website of the German Ministry of Justice:
The regulations regarding tenancy are in Title 5 of the code.

This will give you some idea what a paragraph quoted in a contract or legal document is about - but please refrain from making any legal interpretation on your own without legal council or at least feedback from your property manager. The German judicial system is not determined by precedence as much as the Anglo-American system but there is up to date high court ruling to be taken into consideration for the interpretation of the civil code. So the translation is to be used only as an indication of the subject that is addressed.

Uwe Falkenberg


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