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Landlord claims for rent after I moved out

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Hi everyone, 

I have an uncommon situation regarding rental of property. The background was about a fixed 3-year contract that I signed (a contract that I was tricked into). My German was not good and therefore when the landlord said it was a flexible contract with a notice period of 3 months that I could terminate at any time, I trusted it and did not go through the terms and conditions in German. I suspect that my lack of language skills is not an argument from legal perspective since I should be responsible for my own negligence when signing the contract. 

 

In less than 1 year of moving into the apartment, my personal situation had changed as I was moving abroad for at least couple of months for job reasons. Upon agreement with my landlord, we proceeded with early termination with 3 months notice with me demanding the contract ending on 31 Dec 2019. For that, I sent a termination letter - 'Einschreiben'.

 

We agreed on the apartment hand-over date, signed the 'Wohnungsübergabeprotokol' (the apartment hand-over protocol), and then I gave back the keys to my landlord. 

In light of all these activities, I had no doubt that, upon our mutual agreement, the contractual relationship ends on 31 Dec 2019. I made all the payments of rent on time and up front also for the two months when I do not live there anymore, as I moved out in Oct 2019. She had the apartment empty from Nov to Dec, which she could show to prospective tenants. We agreed also as apart of 'Wohnungsübergabeprotokol' that she pays back the deposit by Dec 2019.

 

Now fast forward to Mar 2020, when i requested the deposit which my landlord had not paid me yet, she requested my payment of rent for the rest of 2 years, saying that our contract is still valid. This seems abnormal for me, because she already took back the apartment and signed the 'Wohnungsübergabeprotokol'. I am also no longer in the city where I rented the flat, since I moved for a new job in a different city, therefore this is no way that I continue with renting this apartment.

 

I would very much appreciate the advice from the forum here. Much thanks!

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I am in no means a lawyer, but it seems to me that she has no legal leg to stand on. Granted the initial contract was for a 3 year term, but you mutually agreed to end it early. Also, how is she going to argue that to a judge when there was a formal handover and such?

Are you still in Germany? If so, maybe your best bet is to go join a "Mieterverein".

Do you have any of your interactions with her on record? Letters, emails, whatsapp etc?

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Thank you! @generalmartok 

yes, I kept all the conversations in the form of letters, emails, etc. I did ask a Mieterverein but they said they cannot represent me in a court.

Right now my concern is about getting the full deposit back, and in the future, the case could become responding to her unreasonable payment request if she decides to sue me.

 

If she assumed that there is a contractual relationship, then a typical behaviour from any landlord would be to ask me for payment of rent at the beginning of each month also starting 2020, which she didn't. She only brought up her rent request after I requested her for deposit in Mar 2020.

 

Since the apartment is already vacant 5 months ago, a normal behaviour from her would be to find the next tenant as soon as possible to minimise her own loss. I don't know why she did not seem to be doing so, but rely on the hope that she could continue to get the rent from me.

 

 

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You didn't answer whether you are in Germany or not. That might indicate how difficult or easy it is for you to follow this up.

The Mieterverein might not be able to represent you, but they could write letters on your behalf and also advice you what to do next. Also, depending on how much the deposit money she owes you is you can estimate how much it will cost you to have a lawyer represent you in court. If all that you said is true and you have proof, I am pretty certain you will win the case and then she will have to return your deposit and also reimburse you for your lawyer costs. It is also likely that she is just doing this to try and scare you into backing off from reclaiming your deposit money.

Did she respond to your termination letter with a confirmation (Kündigungsbestätigung) ?

If the answer is yes, then I believe it's a no-brainer. Again, not a lawyer.

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@generalmartok  Yes, I moved back to Germany. Although she acknowledged receipt of the termination letter in WhatsApp, she did not provide a signed confirmation regarding early termination (Kündigungsbestätigung). The only signed paper I have from her which implies termination of our contractual relationship, is the 'Wohnungsübergabeprotokol'.  

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I second what the good general already said:  no the mieterverein will not represent you in court for this case as you were not already a member, but they should be able to evaluate the situation, advise you, and write letters to the landlord in any case.

 

you should join anyway just because you may face a similar situation in the future.

 

it's so freaking easy and cheap, yet it's endlessly useful.  

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Thanks again for all the advice here. To follow up on this case, I had not heard back anymore from the landlord. I set the deadline for her to pay back the deposit by Mar 2020. Since she did not take the action, I will proceed with formal communication via letters. I knew a lawyer who can help out drafting this letter.  Since I moved out in Oct 2019, I think I will be already eligible for demanding the payment by end of April.

 

The reason why I did not join the Mieterverein in that city, is because there is minimum of 2 years of membership, but I am no longer living in that city so I also could not use this service in the future for other rental issues. To speed up the process a bit, I am turning to lawyer directly. 

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Thanks also for the great help from @Rechtsanwalt. I really appreciate your advice and expertise on this matter. Hopefully the landlord will respond back soon to pay for the deposit, in order to minimise her legal risk.

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