Can rent and nebenkosten be increased by more than 100 percent?

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My current rent including nebenkosten is 600  (350 Kaltmitte) euros for a huge WG which is about 120 square meters.

The rent has not gone up for several years but now a new owner has come. He wants to renovate and increase both the rent and the nebenkosten to 1000 euros per month. Rent has gone up in this area which has now become one of the most exclusive in the city.

It is a shared WG. I am the only remaining tenant from the original contract signed by four people with another rental agency. The new owner fired them and hired this sharky new agency. I have, however, signed no new contract with them. I have my old contract.

Can he ask for such a huge increase? The renovation is putting in new windows, changing the heating system from a boiler to central, and some work in the basement to prevent the building shaking. It is a very old building.

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The recent Eigenbedarf thread discusses how modernisation can vastly increase the rent.   You might want to read that.   It is a very common current issue, often discussed in the media etc.    Generally, and according to rules about what exactly is covered, the rent can go up by 11% p.a. of the renovation costs (and hence once can see why the renovation might well be as comprehensive as possible).

 

After I contributed to that other thread, I walked past my local Mietverein (tenants' association) in Berlin yesterday.  The strapline on its window is "protection from modernisation costs" (among others).  You might want to start with yours.  They won't be surprised to hear your story.

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first, join the mieterverein.  YESTERDAY :)

 

second, the landlord has to provide you with a detailed plan for the renovations, including cost estimates.  You do have some option to contest parts of the plan, in theory, but you'd need the mieterverein's help to review the plan to spot any shady items or renovations that cannot be passed on to tenants.

 

nebenkosten normally can't be increased unless you've had a shortfall the year prior.  There are some cases though (and I'd guess renos would be among them) that the landlord can increase the nebenkosten based on projected increases in costs.

 

however I would find that a bit strange as in theory all this modernization is supposed to reduce your heating costs, at least.  Are you currently paying your own heating/hot water under your own contract?  If so, once they switch to central heat this would move those costs to nebenkosten or similar.

 

anyway you need advice from the mieterverein.  you really do.

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1 hour ago, solomongrundy said:

new windows, changing the heating system from a boiler to central, and some work in the basement to prevent the building shaking.

 

AFAIK, these are normal costs that fall on all property owners/landlords.

 

Do take the advice you have already gotten - don't agree to or sign anything and join the Mietverein.

 

Best of luck!

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53 minutes ago, lisa13 said:

however I would find that a bit strange as in theory all this modernization is supposed to reduce your heating costs, at least. 

 

It's that maths again.  I know how much the system in my whole block costs but, if a full on replacement here costs , say 10k, then there's 1100 Euro.  Could be more?   However much it reduces costs, it might not be that much and of course many people choose  to limit consumption of heat, not rack up a relentless bill just because insulation is poor.     You don't normally pay cheaper rent for a more rundown home just to to then rattle up gigantic heating costs.    So it probably is net cost for those in such conditions.

 

There are also arguably some cultural issues arounf it as well.   Energy efficiency is very much a big feature of the 2018 property market.  Landlords do hook to that and, indeed, often get criticised for not offering suitable property but more wasteful older stock.   They get told to pay regard to energy consumption.  So more money on measures (in rent), less to the energy company (NC).

 

At the heart of this is the inconsistency between the decision maker on costs (landlord) and the ultimate bearer (tenant).   

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the windows are definitely tenant-payable.  Not sure about the rest.

 

I have friends in a neighboring altbau who had a renovation increase last year.

 

they got new windows, and a new, larger balcony (which increased the size of their living space) and their increase was about 50-60 euros per month. Note the balcony is a simple, iron affair, that's just bolted to the building, so not much to "build" there.  Aside from that, they also did a bunch of structural work in the hallways and added an elevator.  As far as I know they didn't see any increase for those bits but even if that was part of the monthly increase, it wasn't much.

 

their landlord did everything by the book and they were given the detailed plan with increase amount three months before any work started, as is required.

 

and of course their heating bills have improved a bit, without the old drafty windows.  They have been very pleased.

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Than you all for the kind replies. I joined the mieterverein ,  but the earliest appointment is in late November. I will certainly put the case to them.

The landlord is putting pressure---according to my calculations he can increase the rent by 20 percent, that is 70 euros, he can bring the rent up to the floor price in this area, and he can charge me ten percent of the renovation costs, and if that s 20 percent then I am looking at

 

350 plus 70

Per square meter now is 3.5 he wants to increase it to 5.5 which is the new rate in this area

and then 10 percent renovation costs

 

Is his offer better than the one I could get if  I go by the book and allow him to charge me after renovation etc? That s what he says.

 

I d be very happy if I get a response so I know what to say next week.

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Don't agree to anything. Let him pressure all he wants. Tell him you'll get back to him after you talk to your lawyer in Nov.

 

Might not be good advice but that is what I would try to do.

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I really don't understand what you mean. 

 

First, the issue of a "normal" rent increase.  He can only raise the cold rent by max 15-20% (depending on where you live).  That is really and truly a hard limit. He can't simply decide he wants to charge the new going rate and hit you with that if it exceeds that limit - he just can't. The cap for an increase is 15-20% over three years OR up to the current "going rate".  It's not the highest of the two - the LOWEST of the two. 

 

Further, in order to accomplish a legal increase, he has to follow some very basic and very CLEAR rules.  These include a written notice of the erhöhung, complete with a 3 month notice period, and a detailed explanation for why he is justified in raising the rent.  That has to be based on "prevailing" rates (normally the mietspiegel value).  And you have to agree to it!  If you don't agree, yes he can theoretically sue you, but if there is anything "unwirksam" about the proposed increase, there is nothing for you to do at all.  There is a LOT of information about cold rent increases in various threads here.

 

For a nebenkosten increase, he can increase the nebenkosten but the increase has to be somehow related to ACTUAL costs - as I said earlier normally the increase is based on the amount you owed after the last nebenkostenrechnung was tallied. It's a bit different than a rent increase as this does not require your agreement, and there is no formal way to announce it, but you are not completely at their mercy.  For example you yourself can declare a decrease if and when your next rechnung shows that he owes you money.  Again we have threads that cover this.

 

Last, for a renovation related increase, NO, he cannot just do the reno then slap you with the increase after the fact.  The first step is giving you a detailed outline of the renovations to be performed and what the costs are before the reno commences. 

 

"is his offer better" is impossible to answer as you have not given any real details.  And we have no idea what he's pressuring you to do.

 

details matter.  go read the other threads that cover this, then present a more comprehensive description of the problem/question. 

 

and as fraufruit suggested, don't agree to a damned thing til you get profi advice from an ACTUAL profi (ie not us)

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On 11.10.2018, 16:53:10, lisa13 said:

Aside from that, they also did a bunch of structural work in the hallways and added an elevator.  As far as I know they didn't see any increase for those bits but even if that was part of the monthly increase, it wasn't much.

 

They can normally charge for the elevator since that improves the living conditions but since that's shared by all apartments it won't be that much. Structural works in the hallways sounds more like Erhaltung rather than Modernisierung, so you don't pay for that.

 

2 hours ago, solomongrundy said:

The landlord is putting pressure---according to my calculations he can increase the rent by 20 percent, that is 70 euros, he can bring the rent up to the floor price in this area, and he can charge me ten percent of the renovation costs, and if that s 20 percent then I am looking at

 

How is he putting pressure and where did you get the 20% from?

 

Rule 0: Mieterverein (but you've done that, so good on you)

1. Do not sign anything

2. He needs to give you a breakdown of the planned renovations (Modernisierungserklärung) at least 3 months before any work starts. In that he has to tell you exactly what is going to be modernised, how much it will cost, how long the works will last, and the expected increase in cost. 

3. Do not sign anything

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I saw a TV program the other day about scams involving modernization of apartment buildings.  Big company renovates all their apartments using their own daughter company contractor.  Contractor "sells" all materials to the "mother" at jacked up prices.  Some items on the bill may not even end up being installed.  The tenants get charged 11% of the bill.  Mother and daughter companies both make money. 

 

They checked this for example by getting a heating expert to look at a tenants bill and check in the basement what had been installed and what the prices were.  The expert found that the furnaces they installed were priced much too high and not all items had been installed.  He added that the new furnaces they installed would not help the tenant as the radiators were badly outdated.  They asked the apartment building why they were not replacing the radiators and they basically stated that they were doing renovations that were cost effective for them.

 

I second what others have said, join the mieterverein and have them take a look.  Let the landlord know that you are talking to the mieterverein.

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Hi 

 

Thank you for all the responses.

 

Here are the details of the agreement that he is offering.

 

1. My current cold rent is 350. This will go up to 700. He says that the floor price in this area is from 5.5 to 10 per sq meter so he is giving me the cheapest. I checked the Meitspiegel and that s true. Currently, I pay 3.50 per sq meter. It is a very old building and the area was run down until recently.

 

 

What he says is that if it goes to the lawyers etc, it will end up with a higher bill eventually and that he would like to offer me this.

 

He is a rather pushy type. He got all the other tenants out by either buying them out or taking them to court. That s stressful. I don t want to move out.

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it's like you're asking "should I play hard to get or just bend over?" 

 

what grounds do you imagine he has to take you to court?  has he given you a proper and legal increase notice for your cold rent?  has he given you a proper and legal reno plan?

 

what did he (allegedly) take the other tenants to court for, and has he actually won any judgements, or did he win by threat alone? who told you about these alleged court cases?

 

If he goes to the lawyers for what?!  WHAT?

 

 

 

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He said, "if it goes to the lawyers" then there will be even more costs that solomongrundy will have to pay. You know, the nice guy/I'm doing you a favor approach. 

 

 

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yeah, which is usually bullshit ;)  That's why I'm asking about the basis for the LL to go to the lawyers (he has a pack of them out back in a kennel?) let alone why the OP would be responsible for those costs (eta unless he were being sued - which goes back to, on what grounds could he be sued?).

 

@solomongrundyyou should probably start paying the nebenkosten increase immediately as it sounds quite valid, and not paying a nebenkosten increase CAN result in a very easy eviction for the landlord.  In the worst case you get a refund so no risk to do so.

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Hi, 

 

Thanks for the quick responses. His offer is that I pay half the rent and half the nebenkosten during the renovation. About going to court he only sued one and they settled out of court but had to leave. About the others, they were paid off. He has offered me that but I am too attached to this place. That s why he is increasing the pressure. 

My dilemma is this---is his offer (including the lowest rate on the meitspeigel) a good opportunity or should I fight it? I don t know if he is trying to cheat me or is making a genuine offer that reflects reality and that by refusing this, in the long run, I expose myself to a much higher rent.

The planned renovation is just basic--fix windows, switch to central heating for hot water, a new sink.

No, he has not given me any formal notices right now and no cost estimates.

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then it appears you have no real pressure.  Tell him you need to talk to the mieterverein before you can agree to anything at all.  In the meantime pay an amount in nebenkosten that reflects your actual usage last year to match the NK increase he proposed.  50 euros should not break you.

 

I want to reiterate that you should read up on the topic of tenant rights here and elsewhere (you could start by re-reading the posts above!).  You will be in a much better position to make your own decisions, with or without profi help, and you'll be better prepared to recognize any cons afoot.

 

good luck.

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The renovation costs have to be separatly  set out in the contract  and a copy of the costs from whoever carried out the work as they are not permitted to be higher than 10% yearly  and must stop after 10 years

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On 16.10.2018, 13:18:04, solomongrundy said:

Hi, 

 

Thanks for the quick responses. His offer is that I pay half the rent and half the nebenkosten during the renovation. (...)

 

Don't sign anything, talk to the Mieterverein first. 

 

There is a recent decision by the Federal Supreme Court: Who agrees to a rent increase, has later no right of revocation: http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/service/mieterhoehung-bei-zustimmung-gibt-es-laut-bgh-kein-widerspruchsrecht-a-1233765.html  (German only)

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I'm surprised that decision was "recent" - I thought it's always been that way 

 

also, don't let anyone talk you into paying an increase "while you think about agreeing" - paying is a form of implicit agreement.  

 

but that does NOT apply to nebenkosten increases.  that's a danger zone.  can be risky not to pay those

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