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Longstanding renovations in my flat

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Background: I moved into my apartment in September 2012. Almost immediately problems with water leaking and mold began. There were a number of sources: The caulking around the bathtub was leaking, there was a leak where the previous tenant had screwed something directly into a pipe (facepalm) and also some pipes that had simply rusted through. The hausverwaltung sent a worker and got it fixed each time. It happened I think 2-3 more times over the year, this time it was only ever rusted pipes in the walls, so nothing that I had any control of.

 

Then we get a new hausverwaltung. Another water leak. They bust holes in my walls (again) and repair the leak. But this time, they declare there's been so much water damage over the years, that they need to dry out the walls and floor of the kitchen. They say "We need to take out your entire kitchen and we would like to start tomorrow!"

 

I joined the mieterverein at this point, and managed to delay them for two weeks. Then they came in and tore out my kitchen. The Mieterverein advised me that I could deduct the money I had to spend on eating out from my rent.

 

The drying out took a few weeks, and since then things have just snowballed. They figured the floorboards were rotten, and probably in the bathroom and toilet too, so they took that all out as well. At this point, I had to move out of course. My hausverwaltung informed me that they were not responsible for paying my hotel costs, but that I should check with my hausratversicherung. I did, and my insurance said yes, we'll cover the hotel costs.

 

At this point I was deducting my rent 100%, and found myself accumulating a bit of a "debt" as I was still saving up my receipts from eating out. Right now, I haven't had a kitchen since September and have been living in a hotel for 5 weeks. No work has taken place in my apartment for over a month. Every time I try communicating with them, they tell me they're still waiting to hear back from their insurance about some matter, or that they need a surveyor to call them back before they can proceed, blah blah blah. They also told me they are very busy and that my case is not a priority, for example they refused to write me a one-line letter to send to my hausratversicherung which I needed to get my hotel costs reimbursed, and only did it after I went to their office and refused to leave without it. Their excuse? "We're busy, we only have two hands, we'll write you the letter when we have time"

 

Now I've got a lawyer involved. He instructed me to write to them saying they should be paying my hotel costs, NOT my insurance, and saying they need to pay me €24/day "pauschale" to take care of my other needs, like getting food, doing laundry, etc. They wrote back and basically said "lol, no." Now he has written directly himself, threatening to take them to court if they do not comply. He requested a reply within a week, and they simply haven't replied at all. The deadline has come and gone.

 

I still need to speak to my lawyer to figure out our next step, but my question in all this is: Could these people possibly win? It seems to me like they are in direct violation of the law, and going to court could only end badly for them....am I wrong? It just baffles me that they have been so resistant even to my lawyer. They cannot possibly have a legal leg to stand on after having ripped apart my apartment and refusing to pay my accommodation or food. Does anybody have any experience with this, or does anyone know the law well enough to tell me what my chances are here? I'd rather not go to court, but I don't want to let these jerks get away all this, especially not after I've been so inconvenienced for so long.

 

Thanks!

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Without knowing the specifics of your case, it sounds like the opposition are grade A assholes.

 

From what I know about German tenant protection as a layman, I think the law is on your side.

 

Good luck.

 

 

 

Heh heh, I said "lay"

 

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Thanks, Jeffo. I keep thinking...am I crazy, or are they fighting a seriously losing battle for themselves? I don't understand their strategy at all.

 

I can't wait to "lay" on my freshly renovated kitchen floor...ahhhh.

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To some extent your chances in court will probably depend on what you can prove in case they contest that things happened as you decribed. So I´d take pictures, write protocols, keep invoices (restaurants, hotels, laundry etc.) and take them to court. Btw, is your lawyer specialized in rental law (Mietrecht)? If not, you might want to use one of those.

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Hi Jeba,

 

Yes, he specializes in Mietrecht. Thanks for the tip, I've got piles of receipts to back me up and some photos of my flat in its current state. I think I've got older photos too, and some invoices that the companies left behind when they did the abtrocknung and other stuff. Would that help?

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I think everything will help which proves expenses and trouble you had due to the refurbishment. Another thing that crossed my mind: you might make your Hausratversicherung aware about the whole situation. Since they are paying for yyour hotel they might be interested in trying to claim back from the landlord. Maybe you can reduce your exposure to the risk of legal cost if you let them do (at least some) of the sueing. I´d ask my lawyer about that if I was you.

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Im amazed your Hausratsversichering is paying at all, because the way you describe it it clearly isn't their responsibility. by law the House should have building insurance that exactly covers water damage caused by communal piping and they are the ones who should probably be paying.

 

I would certainly back the idea of getting your insurance involved - they can be bastards if they get a whiff of payback.

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How would getting my insurance involved work? Someone else suggested to me that my Hausrat might provide me with a bit of funding for the lawyer, because I don't have legal insurance. But how exactly do you introduce this? "Hello, will you help me sue my landlord so that you don't have to pay my costs" or...? Or they might sue them of their own accord to get the money back?

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Your lawyer was right about your landlord being responsible for your lodgings while your flat is a construction site. A friend of mine got his hotel paid and a daily allowance when his toilet was taken out and not replaced for a few days. I guess I'm surprised your insurance is paying.

 

Sound like you will have a fully renovated flat when all is said and done. Don't let them talk you into a new rental contract with higher rent.

 

Where did you live between Sept. and the last 5 wks. when you didn't have a kitchen?

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Or they might sue them of their own accord to get the money back?

 

Yes, and you could build on that if the landlord still objects to your demands after having lost against the insurance.

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Fraufruit, I stayed in the flat. If I had known it would drag on this long I might've left, but it was always "We expect it'll be maybe two weeks! Oh, maybe just another week now, so sorry!" I have a toaster oven, so I could heat up canned soups and that, and otherwise I just ate out and saved my receipts.

 

Thanks for the advice everyone, I'm still waiting to hear back from my lawyer but in the meantime I'm going to contact my insurance again.

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An update to this situation...

 

I tried getting the insurance involved, and they told me they have their own legal department and file a lawsuit if they think it's necessary on their own.

 

I eventually asked my lawyer to go ahead and file a lawsuit, but he advised me against it and said it would cost more money and trouble than it's worth. He said there wasn't a whole lot we could do. He called them a few times and pressured them into starting up the work again. It still ended up taking ages and the kitchen furniture was only put back into place this week. I'm still not living in my place and probably won't for another week.

My lawyer said my insurance will most definitely ask for (and get) the money for my hotel back, but the Hausverwaltung benefits because by not paying me directly, they didn't have to go out of pocket themselves. Apparently, their insurance will cover it. So they never had to shell out any money themselves.

My lawyer has arranged compensation for my expenses, including his fees, and that will be paid but I have to admit, I'm really furious about the whole thing still. They were rude, uncommunicative, lazy, and lied directly to me several times. I can only imagine they wanted me to throw up my hands and move out so they can raise the rents or something.

 

Anyway, if anybody lives in the Moabit area, avoid renting a flat from Hausverwaltung Christiane Rehfeld. They are the worst.

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It would have, and at one point I had decided to do it, but I'm moving to England in September anyway, and finding a place for just a few months turned out to be quite a hassle. Plus, my lawyer said if I left it would become very difficult to get any of the compensation owed to me, and it was almost finished so I decided to stick it out.

In the previous months though, I was just too damn mad. I figured it me leaving is what they wanted, I was going to stay just to piss them off. It just made me so mad that these companies try these tricks because they know most of the time people give into pressure. I wanted to give them a hard time back.

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