Problems with Landlord over repairs

42 posts in this topic

I viewed a flat that was lovely with a few issues to repair--a set of broken doors that the landlord said he would have fixed such as a broken window, the replacement to the floor with a hole in it, and a few other items.  I moved into the flat to find that the washing machine he left in the flat was broken and although no part of the lease, it was clear that he didn't attempt to test it and then remove it.  

Also, the night before moving in the landlord wrote me to say that the kitchen floor had to be replaced and he sent me pictures of the options to the floors to be put in. It was too late for me to make alternative plans as movers had to be organised with three week's notice.  He said it would be quickly fixed.  There were several repairs needed to be made to the flat which we had been in correspondence over and when we moved in I noticed several other issues.  A door that doesn't shut, wood trim on the floorboards which was not put properly into place with nails but seems to have been painted as 'adhesive' (it doesn't hold wood).  I wrote him about these issues and he said he would have this done.  He said that he would make the appointments for the carpenter to come and fix up the items and the appointment for the floor person in the kitchen.  And the biggest problem in all of this is that without my ability to have my kitchen installed, we cannot eat. I have two small children and this has been hell. Eating out is just not an option where we are living as the restaurants are few and bad. So we end up eating the not the best, if not overpriced food, but really need to be able to install the kitchen which the kitchen installers say is impossible to do without the floor finished.  And another consequence of this situation is that we cannot unpack. A huge percentage of boxes are kitchen related, and so we must wait for this kitchen floor to be finished before we can unpack boxes as there is no place to unpack to. 

It is now clear to me that this landlord has made an investment to make money but is not very invested in carrying through his duties as a landlord which sort of meant he should have been aware of these problems long ago.  He says that this will be fixed at the end of the month but it would seem that legally I have the right to stay in an alternative place until this situation is resolved and then to reduce the fees from this other lace from the rent.  And for the items that he was to have fixed (ie the broken doors) he started to back out of that agreement saying, "But you can remove them."  But, as I have just moved here I don't want a battle with the landlord.  This entire affair is taking a toll on my health or budget and I don't know if it is possible to keep waiting.   He keeps stringing me along with dates and that he will confirm "today" the installation for next week but nothing as such has happened. Yesterday, I wrote the landlord both to ask that the repairs actually do take place next week and that he scale down the rent for this month until the floor is finally installed. His response: he wrote me an irate message back. It is phenomenal such an attitude since it is clear that he has not prepared the flat up to a living standard and then expects the tenant to take the brunt of the responsibility (ie. i have had to be here to meet workers for items he has put off such as gas inspection and hot water heater being fixed) where he lives in another town and couldn't be bothered. I also suspect he left the washing machine knowing full well that it was broke and he didn't want to be bothered. I really don't know what to do since I now understand that the only reason why he didn't know the kitchen floor was rotted was that he has not taken care of the flat. I extended myself to move in with the understanding this would be fixed, but in the first day or so. Not weeks later. 

What do you suggest?

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Join the mieterverein and talk to them about your options.  You can scale down the rent yourself although better if you do this with a lawyer.  You need to inform the landlord in writing how much you scale down the rent from which date due to which problems.  I think if you write him before mid-month, you are in your good right to scale it down starting the month of April.  It would be better to put a price on each problem separately so when he fixes them, the rent comes up again.

 

Be advised that this can cause even more stress between you and your landlord.  You think your landlord is being unfair to you but your landlord may be oblivious, maybe he really is dealing with handymen who aren't showing up or are cancelling on him because they are getting bigger jobs elsewhere so maybe your landlord feels that you are the one being unfair.

 

I know a guy who scaled down his rent due to problems and his landlord ended up suing him.  The landlord told him that according to his lawyer, he'd be 99% sure to win.  Of course this was bollocks and ended up costing them both a lot of stress, time and money although the landlord lost more.  The case went on for at least 2 years.  The landlord had sold the building in the end but the case was still ongoing.  The courts forced the tenant to get a court appointed inspector to inspect the building for problems.  The tenant had to front the money for that, 3000€  Problems were found but then the question was how much worth should they put on each problem, was he scaling his rent down too much or not?  In the end, they settled the case.  The landlord got no money back from the scaling down on the rent and had to pay for 2/3 of the inspector costs.  The tenant had to pay his legal costs and 1/3 of the inspector.

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It sounds like you have your communications with your landlord in writing. Take it all to the Mietverein along with specific dates about each problem being reported and photos of boxes piled where your kitchen should be, etc.

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Thank you both for your suggestions. Yes, most everything happened in writing.  And sadly this is not a case of a handyman not coming to do the job but of a landlord who left his property after a bad experience with a previous tenant,  hadn't bothered to see if everything was working, and then upon looking for a tenant, found that there were more problems than he imagined..  I don't mind having to be there for repairs etc in a house I have been living in, but it is turning into a job.   I do expect when I get a rental, that the problems have either been resolved or have a fixed date (hopefully within the first week) for the repairs.  I will go to the Mietverein on Monday.  

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23 minutes ago, zwiebel said:

a landlord who left his property after a bad experience with a previous tenant,  hadn't bothered to see if everything was working

 

Perhaps the former tenant left because of the same problems you are having.

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1 hour ago, fraufruit said:

 

Perhaps the former tenant left because of the same problems you are having.

 

Quite possible.  Sounds like the landlord is not really too interested to hear about the tenants problems as he is in collecting the rent.

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I was thinking the same thing.  He keeps writing me that living without a kitchen does not make the flat 'uninhabitable'. I reminded him that two small children eat all the time and that the situation has basically left me unable to be at home due to the boxes all over the place that cannot be opened due to the kitchen floor situation AND in order to keep my children near food and away from the boxes. (The room where the boxes are has a door that does not shut which of course I did not know until the day after we moved in). 

Does the Mietverein have any authority, or are they a guide for tenants?  

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2 hours ago, zwiebel said:

I was thinking the same thing.  He keeps writing me that living without a kitchen does not make the flat 'uninhabitable'. I reminded him that two small children eat all the time and that the situation has basically left me unable to be at home due to the boxes all over the place that cannot be opened due to the kitchen floor situation AND in order to keep my children near food and away from the boxes. (The room where the boxes are has a door that does not shut which of course I did not know until the day after we moved in). 

Does the Mietverein have any authority, or are they a guide for tenants?  

 

The mieterverein can tell you what your rights and options are but they can not make your landlord do anything.  They have a lawyer but a lawyer too can only do so much.  They can write letters and help you can scale down the rent as much as the lawyer deems appropriate but that still does not ensure that the landlord will indeed fix the kitchen floor.  He may continue arguing about it and may take you to court because of it or may just decide to live with it and you will still find yourself without a kitchen floor plus added stress with landlord, courts and shit.

 

 What would be a better option to ensure that you get your floor in my opinion would be to get an estimate and have a lawyer write the landlord a letter stating that he has x time (2 weeks maybe) to get started on the floor, otherwise you will have it done according to your estimate and subtract the costs from your rent.  The landlord may still be pissy but there isn't much he can do about it other than either get his ass in gear to get it done himself or it will be done for him at his cost.

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Now I have an email from him saying he does not want me as a tenant and is accusing me of looking for reasons not to pay rent, which is a bizarre reversal of what is actually happening.  Is this legal for him to do?  It seems like he is now just annoyed that I am asking that he keep his word on fixing the items that need repair by turning this on me. This is odd--it's not like I caused any of these issues and he has clearly not verified the problems months ago when he had a vacant flat to improve. This is weird since I just went to great expense to move into this place and I don't think it is unreasonable that I ask for these repairs done.  

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5 minutes ago, zwiebel said:

Now I have an email from him saying he does not want me as a tenant and is accusing me of looking for reasons not to pay rent, which is a bizarre reversal of what is actually happening.  Is this legal for him to do?

There is nothing in the law which prevents him from writing something like that. But it doesn´t have any bearing and he cannot get rid of you as a tenant against your will based on those accusations. He still has to fulfill his part of the contract which means he has to provide accommodation that can be used for the the contracted purpose. Join the Mieterverein as suggested. They won´t go to court for you this time because you haven´t been a member for long enough but they will give you legal advice and make him aware of his obligations on your behalf and represent you out of court.

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Thanks. I just moved to a new city and am still a member of the Mietverein in Berlin where I have been a member since I moved there. Although I have to pay fees here for the new Mietverein, can my tenure in the association carry over such that they can represent me in court do you think?

I am going to the Mieterverein tomorrow first thing.

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I think one of the main problems here is that there was no handover protocol written that explicitly outlined the issues that needed to be fixed *prior* to moving in, signed off by both parties.

 

Tenants should always insist on a handover inspection to document existing problems so you are not accused of causing the damage yourself, and you also need to have a written agreement about what is going to be fixed by the landlord and what improvements will fall on the tenant.

 

I don't think the lack of such documentation puts you in a bad place, necessarily, but it would have helped *a lot* to have such an agreement before moving in.

 

not sure about whether you will have a new waiting period with the new mieterverein or not - of course you should ask.  You might want to contact your former mieterverein to find out if their legal insurance will still cover you during the waiting period (if you have a waiting period at all)  From what I have seen, different mietervereins handle the legal insurance differently.  Eg my verein has the legal insurance as an "add on" which you're required to take IF you don't already have a legal insurance to cover landlord issues, while others just bundle it with the membership overall. I think the only way to know for sure is to ask both vereins where you stand.

 

 

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Thanks, Lisa.  There was a handover document but this was in addition to the ongoing emails of what he has promised to fix (ie the toilet that moves from the floor, the doors nailed shut, the door that won't close).  I have all his emails documenting his promise to fix these issues even before I signed the lease. I was acting on good faith, sympathetic to a person who lives in another town not having a lot of time to oversee repairs.  I didn't think he would flip out like this.


 

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On 3/10/2018, 9:46:57, LeonG said:

Join the mieterverein and talk to them about your options.  You can scale down the rent yourself although better if you do this with a lawyer.  You need to inform the landlord in writing how much you scale down the rent from which date due to which problems.  I think if you write him before mid-month, you are in your good right to scale it down starting the month of April.  It would be better to put a price on each problem separately so when he fixes them, the rent comes up again.

 

Be advised that this can cause even more stress between you and your landlord.  You think your landlord is being unfair to you but your landlord may be oblivious, maybe he really is dealing with handymen who aren't showing up or are cancelling on him because they are getting bigger jobs elsewhere so maybe your landlord feels that you are the one being unfair.

 

I know a guy who scaled down his rent due to problems and his landlord ended up suing him.  The landlord told him that according to his lawyer, he'd be 99% sure to win.  Of course this was bollocks and ended up costing them both a lot of stress, time and money although the landlord lost more.  The case went on for at least 2 years.  The landlord had sold the building in the end but the case was still ongoing.  The courts forced the tenant to get a court appointed inspector to inspect the building for problems.  The tenant had to front the money for that, 3000€  Problems were found but then the question was how much worth should they put on each problem, was he scaling his rent down too much or not?  In the end, they settled the case.  The landlord got no money back from the scaling down on the rent and had to pay for 2/3 of the inspector costs.  The tenant had to pay his legal costs and 1/3 of the inspector.

Had a good friend go through the same, wacko landlord, long court case with several appeals till she finally won. In the middle of the court case the lawyer had to call the insurance company to ask if they would fund an appeal or should they settle (win for the landlord) in the end she won the case and money but it was two years of helll

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59 minutes ago, lisa13 said:

Tenants should always insist on a handover inspection to document existing problems so you are not accused of causing the damage yourself, and you also need to have a written agreement about what is going to be fixed by the landlord and what improvements will fall on the tenant.

 

With photos.

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24 minutes ago, zwiebel said:

Thanks, Lisa.  There was a handover document but this was in addition to the ongoing emails of what he has promised to fix (ie the toilet that moves from the floor, the doors nailed shut, the door that won't close).  I have all his emails documenting his promise to fix these issues even before I signed the lease. I was acting on good faith, sympathetic to a person who lives in another town not having a lot of time to oversee repairs.  I didn't think he would flip out like this.


 

 

it's unfortunately the case that too often, a good deed does not go unpunished ;)

 

I've had issues with my landlord in the same direction (though not nearly so bad).  Latest is that I arranged repairs (at his request/suggestion) for my rolladen which are still not properly fixed, I did everything I could to keep him apprised of the situation but now he's accusing ME of holding up the repair process.  This is partly, I have to assume, because I refused to contribute any payment for the repair which was extensive and expensive, well beyond the scope of "kleinreparatur" :/ (and ????)

 

I've read comments from people pointing out that renting should be viewed purely as a business relationship and should be handled as such - very dispassionately and without mercy ;)  I have come to think there is great wisdom in this attitude.  I don't like it at all, but it is as it is.  

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I remember when I first viewed the flat he complained about a former tenant or was it more than one.  He had to have the blinds redone as well and complained about it quite a bit.  I don't think it is we who don't understand the business relationship of this at the end of the day, but landlords like this. I mean he was deeply upset that he had to put out any money for repairs and that is what being a landlord entails at times.  They want us to pay them rent and they to do nothing it would seem.

 

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15 hours ago, zwiebel said:

He keeps writing me that living without a kitchen does not make the flat 'uninhabitable'.

I think this tells you all you need to know about your landlord. Prepare for battle.

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It will be interesting to find out if the Mietverein has ever dealt with him before. I wonder if they disclose that sort of information.

 

Good luck tomorrow!

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