Are extra charges for paying rent by bank transfer instead of direct debit legal?

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Because our landlord refuses to repair the heating (it's on in our child's bedroom and I can't turn it off), I have just sent them a letter saying that I am paying 10% less rent until it is fixed (Mietminderung). At the same time I sent a letter to cancel the direct debit authorisation (Lastschriftverfahren), so I will need to transfer the rent myself (and thus can deduct the 10%).

 

I just noticed there is a clause in the rental contract that states that when I transfer the rent myself, they will charge 15 euros extra. Are they allowed to do that? I googled it, but couldn't find anything on it.

 

Bei Selbstzahlung hat der Mieter dem Vermieter dessen Buchungsmehraufwand mit einer monatlichen Zahlung von 15,00 euro zu vergüten.

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@fraufruit, thank you for your reply. I wasn't talking about bank charges. I will pay by Überweisung (bank transfer), but the landlord will charge me 15 euros for that. Are they allowed to charge me this, as obviously it doesn't cost them any extra work whether I pay by direct debit or bank transfer?

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According to  https://www.gutefrage.net/frage/darf-mein-vermieter-von-mir-einen-lastschrifteinzug-verlangen  they can not charge you more if you transfer the money yourself.  You should join the mieterverein.  They can help you with your landlord as well as knowing your rights.

 

As per a friends experience though, I would however suggest that instead of doing mietminderung, you should request of the landlord to repair the heating within a certain amount of time, otherwise you will have it done yourself and take the bill off the rent.  This way, your problem ends up being fixed fast and the argument will be about a plumbers bill of a certain amount. 

 

By doing a mietminderung, if the landlord is not in a hurry to fix the problem and possibly denying that there is even a problem, the disputed amount quickly rises above what the plumbers bill would have been while you still live with the problem and your heating costs at the end of the year will be higher.  If the landlord is stubborn, it can even end up in court with added costs for you both.

 

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Thank you for the link @LeonG, good to know. Did you use the Mieterverein München? I was going to join them, but then I read a lot of bad reviews and decided not to bother.

 

I have already reported the defect on 24.03.2019. The landlord (Hausverwaltung actually) already sent a technician and he confirmed the problem. The Hausverwaltung also confirmed the problem, but they told me (over the phone) that they only want to do the repair in June when the central heating is being replaced anyway, to save costs. The problem is that the repair can only be done when the heating in the whole building is shut off. If this were not the case I would have paid for the repair myself and claimed it back from the landlord, but I could imagine getting into legal trouble when tampering with the heating of the other apartments.

 

By the way, when I asked them if they would reimburse the costs of the heating running when I don't want it to, they just laughed in my face. I took a photo of the heat cost allocator and e-mailed it to them, stating that I expect them to reimburse me for the extra costs.

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4 hours ago, extramedium said:

Thank you for the link @LeonG, good to know. Did you use the Mieterverein München? I was going to join them, but then I read a lot of bad reviews and decided not to bother.

 

I've never actually been a member of a mieterverein.  I rented one apartment here for about 6 years and never had a dispute with my landlady.  My friend however was renting a business location for a restaurant.  There were various problem with the property, all which the landlady refused to fix.  He did a mietminderung, she sold the building.  The next landlord made him various offers to fix the problems in the future if he stopped the mietminderung right away to not fix the problems but he should cut the mietminderung in half etc. etc.  None of which he wanted to do.  He offered him to start fixing the problems and the mietminderung would start to go away as he fixed things but the landlord didn't want that.  In the end the landlord took him to court.  He was forced to get an inspector to prove the problems at a cost of 3000€.  The case dragged on, being deferred and getting another judge every 6 months.  In the end it went to mediation and they both lost money.  He didn't have to pay the mietminderung back but he did have to pay half of he inspection plus his court costs.  During the case, the landlord already sold the building again to someone else.  My friend bought another property and moved his restaurant there and his most recent landlord at the old location is now trying to blame him for having caused the problems that were present all along and trying to get him to pay to fix them.  If he would have not done mietminderung but fixed the problems and taken it off the rent, he would have not had to live with them for years and years plus it would have been between him and the original landlady and not moving on to two subsequent owners.

 

That said, in your case, it's not like they are refusing to repair it.  They are just telling you they will do it in June.  Sure, you can note the stand of the meter on that radiator and how much it moves until it's fixed and you can calculate when you get your nebenkosten next year how much the unit is worth and how much this will have cost you.  However, I doubt it will be very much.  They will likely turn the heat off soon anyway.

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3 hours ago, snowingagain said:

Is the heating not being turned off centrally soon?  

 

 

The Hausmeisterin told me that they have never turned off the heating in the summer. They also didn't mention it when I complained about the defect.

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2 hours ago, LeonG said:

That said, in your case, it's not like they are refusing to repair it.  They are just telling you they will do it in June.  

Yes, and in the meantime my 5-year-old is sleeping in a room that is over 23℃ hot. I am paying rent and I have a right to a heating that works properly and the landlord has a duty to fix it in a timely matter. The fact that the central heating may (or may not, because previous repairs have also taken more than two years to be carried out) be replaced in June doesn't change any of that.

 

2 hours ago, LeonG said:

Sure, you can note the stand of the meter on that radiator and how much it moves until it's fixed and you can calculate when you get your nebenkosten next year how much the unit is worth and how much this will have cost you.  However, I doubt it will be very much.  They will likely turn the heat off soon anyway.

I really have no idea how much it will amount to, I have never really bothered with checking the readings on these meters. Also have I never had the heating on 24/7 for weeks on end with the window open. Also the Hausmeisterin said the heating will not be switched off and I know the Hausverwaltung well enough not to trust them that the heating will be replaced in June until it has actually been replaced.

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You really need to go and talk to somebody at the Mietverein - they are specialists in dealing with issues such as yours, and will also know the legal ins and outs of it.

They can also clarify for you whether you really can be charged more for transferring the rent yourself - which to me sounds really fishy, but they will know, and also know what (legal) steps you can actually take at this stage.

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@robinson100, I was about to join the Mieterverein München, but the online reviews are so bad I decided not to bother. I have since found out there are more Mietervereine in Munich and that Mieter helfen Mietern has an office around the corner and they are open two evenings a week and you can show up without appointment. I will definitely pay them a visit this week.

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So in the end I joined Mieter helfen Mietern. The advice I got was, I believe, partially incorrect and they advertise with a letter-writing-service, but I had to write my own letters. Nonetheless, I followed the advice (he told me what to write in my letter and to lower my Mietminderung a bit) and it seems to have worked out. I did not get sued. Also the replacement of the central heating got postponed of course (was planned for middle of June, still hasn't been done). As soon as it was decided to postpone it, the Hausverwaltung arranged the repair on my radiator. I am quite sure this wouldn't have happened if I hadn't slapped them with the Mietminderung.

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Glad to hear the issue has been resolved, and good that you let people know that joining the Mieterverein can be so useful!

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