Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

Backing out of apartment rental before signing

14 posts in this topic

Hi everyone

 

I'm moving to Hamburg in the near future and have been looking for flats. I got myself into a bit of a pickle recently, here's a quick summary:

 

Thinking I found a great place, I told the landlord that I would take the flat, to take down the listing, and that I would give him some sort of deposit. All communication was done over email. After asking some colleagues about it, they said it was not a good deal and I shouldn't take it if I hadn't signed anything. In the meantime, the landlord had drafted up the contract, ... I did not sign anything and did not give him a deposit, so I apologized and kindly told the landlord that I changed my mind, and that I'm not interested anymore.

 

He then came back saying, (I quote):

 

"As I have this in writing it constitutes a pre-contractual agreement under German law (and under US/UK law as well!) so that I will, of course, try to have my justified claim settled unless you agree to pay some sort of "culpa in contrahendo" payment to cover for my costs - not to speak about my indirect ones. And please rest assured that I know the legal ways and means for the German area to have this issue settled properly."

 

Should I be worried? Since he has all our communication in email, is that enough to be legally binding, even though we never agreed on anything?? In Canada he would have no ground to stand on, so I'm thinking he's just trying to shake me down. He's asking for 250 euro compensation.

 

Thanks!

jonson

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I dont think so. I once even told a mackler I would take an apartment and never did, and he never did anything.

 

However, when we moved in our landlord did sign a precontract saying the apartment was being held for us, but it was signed.

 

And for that matter, any contract contrived via a distance means has a 14 day cancellation time. So maybe you can take that route. But you never even had a contract.

 

Our guys with legal knowledge should see this and comment soon.

 

Good luck.

P.S. He is an idiot there is no such law in the US either.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My German husband says unless you signed a contract you do not have to pay anything.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Be careful, jonson, just as U.S. law on such thing varies from state to state, so does the German law. On the safe side, perhaps you should be quietly contacting the legal department at your office with a casual question. Lawyers are the same everywhere (guilty) and love to blow on considerably when asked a question in just the right way that they feel you think them brilliant.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rental contracts are based on the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB) that is valid nationwide, there are no differences from state to state within Germany.

 

I found a similar case in a legal forum.

 

 

Ihre e-mail Bestätigung ist nicht als entgültiger Vertragsschluss anzusehen, sondern vielmehr als Verhandlungsgespräche über die Vertragsmodalitäten des zukünftigen Mietvertrages. Selbstverständlich können Sie in diesem Rahmen auch ein Interesse an einer Anmietung bekunden, ohne dabei eine rechtsverbindliche Zusage zu tätigen. Entscheidend ist aber, dass zwischen Ihnen und dem Vermieter hiernach vereinbart worden ist, dass ein schriftlicher Vertrag geschlossen werden soll. Dieser kommt allerdings erst dann zustande, wenn beide Seiten unterschrieben haben.

 

Daran ändert auch nichts, dass sich der potenzielle Vermieter auf eine Bestätigung der Anmietung beruft. Selbstverständlich sind Sie auch dann nicht gezwungen einen Mietvertrag zu unterschreiben. Insbesondere dann nicht, wenn sich dort Klauseln befinden, mit welchen sie nicht einverstanden sind oder welche letztlich überraschend erscheinen ( wie z.B. der Tierhaltung ).

 

Aufgrund dessen, dass zwischen Ihnen und ihrem Vermieter kein Mietvertrag zustande gekommen ist, sind etwaige Kündigungsfristen auch nicht begründet.

Basically, the lawyer is saying that an e-mail confirmation does not constitute a valid contract but is part of the negotiation of a future lease. It may contain your interest in the object but is not a valid confirmation, especially if the landlord and the tenant have agreed that a written lease will be signed at a later date. The lease does not become effective until both parties have signed it (my bold).

 

Even if the landlord insists that your e-mail is a confirmation of a lease you are not obligated to sign one, especially (and this differs from your case) if it contains clauses that contradict the original results of the negotiations.

 

Any statute of termination is not valid.

 

Using the same logic, there is also no obligation on your side to cover payments in lieu of rent. However, the landlord may have a justified claim to damages if he actually accrued further costs, such as advertising, after your refusal to sign the lease. He must prove these costs as well as their justification.

 

*Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, the above advice is based on 25 years experience in the legal field and internet research. For valid legal advice please contact a professional - it is worth the costs.*

7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That makes sense I presume. It'd be like an email "yes, I'll buy your house" constituting a contract! It's the landlord's risk. They chose a possible tenant in a different nation and to do it by email. They can't choose to be in a business of advertising good / service and then claim compensation every time every interested party does not actually make it to contract, or there's a contract or whatever.

 

No more than (say) a self-employed person can of any client that shows an interest but eventually says no.

 

I'm quite surprised damages for consequential costs might be possible but here you go. It's like Aldi suing anyone who looked at goods and though "ooh that's nice, I'll buy that" but decided not to, because they then have to go to the effort of selling someone else.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, thanks everyone! That makes me feel better -- it just seems like common sense. Melmarino, good idea, I'll pass this by my company's lawyer when I get a chance.. But I've learned something here: I'll definitely be more careful in my wording from now on :)

 

I'll keep you all posted on the outcome (if any).

 

jonson

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sarabyrd, there's a little line in that quote that disagrees with what you say:

 

Entscheidend ist aber, dass zwischen Ihnen und dem Vermieter hiernach vereinbart worden ist, dass ein schriftlicher Vertrag geschlossen werden soll.

 

In that particular case quoted, both sides did not form a valid oral contract by agreeing that a written contract would be signed at a later date. That this written contract was apparently explicitly mentioned in the conversation is the legally decisive item of the matter.

 

If a future written contract hasn't been mentioned in the conversation the OP had, an oral contract could be assumed legally. And that oral contract would come into power when the OP wrote "yeah, i'll take it". OP, i'd definitely pass that by that company lawyer in your case. Soon.

 

Oral contracts can be legal rental contracts. There's nothing legally preventing them from being valid.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It will depend on the content of the contract presented by the landlord. If only one clause differs from what was agreed on he has made another offer requiring jonson's consent.

 

EDIT: Sorry, forgot to add this sentence yesterday -

Jonson mentioned in the first post that "the landlord had drafted up a contract" that was to be signed.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am probably too late, but I recently informed myself about the subject and luckily avoided to pay compensation as the Makler couldn't get his right from a solictor.

To say, "I take the flat" and establish the key points of a contract like cost of rent a.s.o. constitutes a binding contract. In writing, via email, easily proved. If only said, it is difficult to prove.

If you word it "I am interested to rent" you do not enter a legal contract! It is always advisable to use those words as you might not acctually like some clauses of the written contract.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went through a similar situation last year. I had confirmed the landlord on email that I would like to rent the apartment and we made an appointment for signing the contract. But soon after that I realized that it would be quite difficult for me to arrange a Nachmieter for my then current apartment so either I should delay the rent start date of new apartment or cancel the whole deal. I talked with new landlord and response was similar, i.e. I have now rented the apartment and I'll have to pay the rent if the landlord does not finds a another tenant before our previously agreed rent start date. She said “I have talked with my lawyer and he says it is not like normal shopping contract that you can cancel anytime, so you are obliged to pay the incurring rents”.

 

But landlord also then refused to hand me over the apartment and sign the contract instead insisted on 'She is looking for new tenant', considering me as a 'problemetic tenant'. It was my strongest argument in conversations with her that either 1) Hand me over the apartment then I would pay 2) If I have no occupation of apartment, I would not pay anything. In case of 1st option, I had the plan to sublet it for the notice period and I had told this plan to the landlord and she was reluctant because I could house-in a nasty tenant, a could be pain for her for longer future.

 

The end of story was luckily, after two weeks of stress, she (the landlord weib) probably found another tenant and did not actually asked for any incurring rent. Although I was just getting ready to call a lawyer for help.

 

The lessons of the story:

 

- Never confirm anything in writing before thinking well

- Get help from a lawyer if it gets complicated. In this case you dont get screwed atleast.

 

What you can try:-

 

- You can sublet the apartment for the duration of notice period if it at all falls to you. But when you will tell this to landlord he will be probably try to get rid of you asap - your solution.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I'm a landlord in a similar situation. SMS and Email confirmation, then they pulled out. Never occurred to me to ask them for damages.

 

Ask your non-landlord to send you an official letter stating his case, so that you can pass it onto your lawyer. He won't send the letter. If he keeps threatening you, just repeat you need an official letter so your lawyer can examine it.

 

Of course if you do receive the letter then you probably will have to show it to a lawyer, but this just won't happen. He's hoping you'll pay because you're scared of his threats. He knows (and knows your fictitious lawyer knows) that he hasn't got a leg to stand on.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Folks, Sorry for waking up the thread.
I have visited an apartment and then sent an email with this text:

Quote

Ich bin daran interessiert, die 1 Zimmer wohnung in der ....(address)... zu mieten, die ich am ...(date and time) Uhr besucht habe. Anbei finden Sie eine Übersicht: (Attachment of my documents without selbsauskunft).

A few days later received an email from landlord company:

Quote

Bitte teilen Sie uns mit, ob Sie weiterhin an der Wohnung interessiert sind.

And my answer:

Quote

Ja, ich bin noch interessiert. Bitte senden Sie mir den Vertrag zum Lesen zu.

But I have lost my interested as I rented another apartment. Am I in trouble?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Pesar said:

Hi Folks, Sorry for waking up the thread.
I have visited an apartment and then sent an email with this text:

A few days later received an email from landlord company:

And my answer:

But I have lost my interested as I rented another apartment. Am I in trouble?

 

No. "Being interested in something" and asking for a lease to read doesn't create a rental contract. Out of courtesy, tell them as soon as possible that you are no longer interested.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0