Antique door restoration in Heidelberg

13 posts in this topic

Hello,

 

We are leaving a rental apartment in an Altbau (probably beginning of 20th century, looking at similar houses) and the paint on the front door (original) was in one area scratched by our dog.

The landlord says since it is an "antique" still with the original paint etc' in can't be simply painted and needs to be restored properly or it might "lose it's antique value if it hasn't already".

 

Before he charges us 20,000 Euros for the door (not illogical for him) - can you recommend someone who specializes in restoring antiques that can give an estimate on the damage/value and repair it?

 

Thanks!

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I'm not a landlord, a renter or a dog owner so a neutral view here: I would class scratches on a door in a dog owning household as normal wear and tear. I'm sorry but as a landlord then don't accept dog owners or charge them higher rent to factor in extra repairs. 

 

Also, in my opinion, unless the door was specifically highlighted to you as being 'antique' at the start of the lease, the landlord is not justified to now claim extra recompense for specialised repairs. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the replies.

pmd - I wish he were a reasonable person, Unfortunately I don't think he is. We will try this argument but I don't think it is going to work. Let's see what the professional says about the cost/value of the door (it's not like it doesn't have other scratches in various places from previous tenants, but the dog scratched only in a specific spot so it's very visible).  

 

We move out 3 weeks before the end of the 3 months notice (that he gave us because he is moving back in) and he demands that we pay those 3 weeks + give him the key when we move out so he can come and do measurements for the renovations he is planning in those 3 weeks. We offered not to pay and give him the key but he wants both. 

 

We already know that we will not see the deposit back even though that is the only damage (although he cannot use it either but he will probably hold it "hostage" for his various claims).

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Sounds like a bad situation. Unfortunately, a deep scratch in a door probably won't go as "normal wear and tear". But a professional painter or carpenter will certainly be able to help. His claim of the paint job being "original" after 100 years is laughable and legally meaningless.

 

As far as the key handover goes, the law is clear: as long as you're paying the rent, he doesn't get the keys. This may not stop him from entering the apartment on his own with a spare key, however - which he is NOT entitled to do - so if you're on good terms with your neighbors, you should ask them to keep an eye out for any activity in the apartment. If he enters the apartment without your permission, that's breaking and entering, for which you can file charges. And since you moved out due to an Eigenbedarf claim, you also should ask them to tell you if anyone else besides the owner moves in - because that's fraud and he'd have to compensate you after the fact for your moving costs (including estate agent fees, etc.) and more.

 

It goes without saying that if you're not already a member of a Mieterverein, this would be a good time to join. They won't be able to help you with any court action that may result from your landlord potentially refusing to repay your deposit, because their terms include a 3-month waiting period for existing actions (like any other legal insurance will), but they will be able to help you with advice and correspondence short of that step.

 

Because this is Germany, however, I have to add that I'm not a lawyer and the above does not construe proper legal advice. That's why you should contact an attorney or a Mieterverein.

 

Best of luck to you!

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Thanks El Jeffo - he doesn't have a spare key. We have all the keys to the apartment (I assume he could get one from the Hausmeister if he really wants since these are smart keys and the Hausmeister has the card). But I can ask the neighbours to let us know.

 

We probably should join a Mieterverein - very smart advice.

 

We contacted a carpenter that specializes in restoring antiques (to make sure the landlord cannot complain about the job not being done properly) and it will cost us 150 Euros (estimated 3 hours of work), which is OK in this crazy situation.

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5 hours ago, El Jeffo said:

 If he enters the apartment without your permission, that's breaking and entering, for which you can file charges.

Jeffo, just to let you know, Germany does not have a B&E statute.  What your after is Burglary.  Sounds nothing like the common use most have for this word.  It used to be called Illegal Entry, but was change a number of years ago.  The one interesting about this offence is to prosecute the offender, it can be do so only on request.  There are only a few offences that offer this.

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§123 StGB in German is Hausfriedensbruch.  The English version is referenced as Burglary, which is why I referenced that way.  It is a bad translation.  Quite bad in fact.  Hausfriedensbruch would be better served as trespass, I think you'd agree.  The older English version was Illegal Entry.  Some of the particulars of the old and newer version did change.  The older version referenced the victim as the 'entitled party' versus the revised as the 'authorised person'. 

 

There is a difference between Hausfriedensbruch (trespass) and what one thinks of with B&E, but it also depends upon which country and the law system (common versus civil). I could get very lengthy with this as it involves criminal trespass versus trespass, burglary versus house breaking versus unlawful or illegal entry and so on.

 

Hausfriedensbruch is an all encumbering statute - dwelling, business or enclosed property.  It stands alone as an offence.  Others like B&E are lesser included offences when one commits another crime like larceny inside a dwelling.  In a number of countries, burglary alone means entering a dwelling during the hours of darkness and is often also a lesser included offence.  If someone entered your home and stole your computer or your precious beer bottle collection (:lol:) he would most like be charged with larceny and B&E or burglary.  Trespass is it's self a stand alone offence.

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Hausfriedensbruch § 123 StGB - Einzelnorm is only to be prosecuted on request and has a maximum penalty of imprisonment up to 1 year .

 

Quote

Section 123
Burglary

(1) Whosoever unlawfully enters into the dwelling, business premises or other enclosed property of another, or into closed premises designated for public service or transportation, or whosoever remains therein without authorisation and does not leave when requested to do so by the authorised person, shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine.

(2) The offence may only be prosecuted upon request.

Quote

Section 124
Aggravated burglary

If a crowd of people publicly gangs up with the intent to join forces to commit acts of violence against persons or objects and unlawfully intrudes into the dwelling, business premises, or other enclosed property of another, or into closed premises designated for public service, anyone taking part in these acts shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine.

although Schwer Hausfriedensbruch - Aggravated  Burglary § 124 = double the trouble!

 

However there is also § 224 Wohnungseinbruch

 

Quote

                                               Section 224

                                    Burglary of private homes

 

(1) Whosoever,

...

3.  commits a theft for the commission of which he breaks into or enters a dwelling or intrudes by using a false key or other tool not typically used for gaining access or hides in the dwelling

shall be liable to imprisonment from six months to ten years.

(2) The attempt shall be punishable.

 

Where there are possible alternative offences in question the police and prosecutor are supposed to uphold the enforcment of the law by seeking to prosecute perpetrtors for the most serious offence. Naturally defence lawyers are also expected to seek to have charges reduced to the least serious option the law allows.

 

Of course, if a breaker nd enterer does not actually purloin any item § 224 would not be applicable.

 

2B

 

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Your situation is all too common and if you're leaving the country almost impossible to fight from aboard. Besides joining the meitverien make 100% sure you're at the handover appointment and if you don't speak German bring along a friend who does. You want to make sure the landlord doesn't pull any fast ones.

 

As to the deposit a little tip, at the handover appointment make it clear that your next stop is the meitverien to have them examine the handover document. the purpose is to show him/her that you understand how the law works and will fight him on this!

 

Also ask him about the deposit when will it be returned etc

 

Secondly what does the lease say about returning the place, do you have to paint?

 

Also how did he find out about the door?

 

Finally I short rental guide I wrote

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Thanks for the info - we are leaving for another town in the area.

We set up a meeting with the Mieterverein that will take place before we return the keys. 

Is there an official "handover document"? if not, what should it say? At the bank they told me they need a signed letter where the landlord states our names and that he gives us back the money.

The landlord saw the scratches when he came into the apartment - the building is being renovated and he came to see what was done. He came a lot during the time we lived here as there were a lot of things that he wanted to do himself (as opposed to us / a professional like drill holes in the wall or attend to the terrible heating system).

We don't need to paint - it is stated explicitly in the contract - but he asked to get the apartment back completely clean (not just "broom clean" which is a term I heard used in such cases) because it was clean when we got it.  

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