What rights do I have as a subtenant (untermieter)?

3 posts in this topic

Hello all and thanks for taking the time to read this post.

 

I am currently subletting a room in a share house in Berlin. There are three people living here: myself (Untermieter), another subtenant (Untermieter), and the main tenant (Hauptmieter). Unfortunately the relationship I have with the main tenant has completely broken down and we have agreed, verbally, that it's best that we do not live together. No official notice has been given by either party (regarding termination of the sublet contract). Without going into too much of the gory details/he-said-she-said, what has ended up happening is the other day the main tenant gave me three typed out letters written in German that he has signed which (to the best of my ability) I think explains that I have been paying too much rent and that he has illegally overcharged me. The reason he admitted to this is a bit of a mystery - I always suspected this but he has seriously weakened his position by admitting to doing so. I think it might have something to do with the building managers (Hausverwaltung) and the actual owner of the apartment wanting him out and perhaps also suspecting foul play.


In any case this lead to a rather interesting conversation over the phone in which he basically admitted that he only measured the room size by hand, that he has no copy of the floor plan of the building, and even implied that the Nebenkosten (which he said was split 3 ways evenly, at 150 euro each) was, in fact, not split evenly after all. He also told me before I signed the sublet contract back in February that he also pays 500€ a month rent, but after I pressed him to see the original lease that he signed with his/our landlord, to verify the legality of the contract between us, he basically then hinted that he doesn't even pay rent. That is to say: myself and the other subtenant are currently paying for the entirety of the apartment (I think).

 

I have 6 specific questions about what rights I have and what I can do now, I would greatly appreciate any authoritative answers to the following questions:

 

  1. Do I have the right to request a copy of the original lease/contract between the main tenant and the landlord?
  2. Do I have the right to request a copy of any utility/heating (warm) bills to verify that the building costs (Nebenkosten) stated in our contract are in fact true and accurate?
  3. Do I have the right to contact the landlord or building managers directly? If so, how would I go about getting those details (especially considering the main tenant will likely not give them to me?)
  4. Is it illegal for a main tenant to sublet an apartment they live in for an amount greater than the total warm rent of the apartment? (please note that I paid a deposit (Kaution) which means taking extra money in the name of "security" should here not apply, also the main tenant does not own the apartment, they have just been living here a long time)
  5. If the main tenant's lease is terminated do I, as an subtenant, have any rights to continue living in the apartment?
  6. If a main tenant pays their rent using the profits/difference they generate by greatly over charging subtenants (assuming this is legal), does that money technically count as "income" for the main tenant?


Thanks for your time and consideration.
 

Note: I have already sent a message to the folks over at https://www.berliner-mieterverein.de/beratung-und-service.htm and will be joining up as a member as soon as possible, so will post anything I find out here, but wanted to check in here too.

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I am not a lawyer, but I've been a tenant and a subtenant myself and have read a lot of German rental law.

Lemme take a shot at this.

Generally speaking, it's quite important to know if you rented a furnished or an unfurnished room as a subtenant.

If furnished, you have next to no rights, including very little notice etc.

If unfurnished, it's a bit better - more notice etc.

Definitely take all documentation to the Mieterverein and repeat your questions there!

 

ad 1) I don't *believe* so.

 

ad 2) I don't *believe* so.

 

ad 3) I don't *believe* so. Why do you want to talk to the owner? You have no contractual relationship with him.

What's your plan, do you want to stick it to the main tenant?

 

ad 4) No, it is NOT illegal for a main tenant to sublet an apartment they live in for an amount greater than the total warm rent of the apartment. This is a real common thing in Germany.

Also, taking Kaution/deposit from a subtenant is normal in Germany.


However, the main tenant needs the PERMISSION of the owner to sublet at all!

In fact, if you talk to the owner and he hadn't given permission, ALL of you can and probably will be terminated IMMEDIATELY. As in kicked out. Just saying.

 

ad 5) If the main tenant is kicked out, you have no legal reason to stay on in the apartment, as your contractual partner is gone. While subtenants sometimes try to use loopholes to stay on, this is super iffy and will 99% not work. So sorry, you won't be able to supplant him. He goes, you go.

 

ad 6) Any amount the main tenant charges from subtenants is income. All of it.

Nobody cares if you were "overcharged" as a subtenant. What's your plan, stick it to the main tenant? That won't help you stay on.

 

You know, I usually have a lot of sympathy for the plight of subtenants.

But your questions sound like you're trying to oust the main tenant and take his place. That can backfire very, very badly in Germany.

 

If I were a landlord with a bad/non paying tenant and a bunch of not permitted subtenants, I would drop them all and start over with new people.

 

It would be better if you cut your losses and move. Seriously.

 

 

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2 hours ago, GrayedFox said:

Do I have the right to request a copy of the original lease/contract between the main tenant and the landlord?

I don´t think so. But I´m not a lawyer.

 

3 hours ago, GrayedFox said:

Do I have the right to request a copy of any utility/heating (warm) bills to verify that the building costs (Nebenkosten) stated in our contract are in fact true and accurate?

No. Your landlord is only obligated to let you see them but not to copy them for you. There have been court rulings on that question. Also on how much a tenant can be charged for copies if the landlord provides them - but I forgot how much it was.

 

3 hours ago, GrayedFox said:

Do I have the right to contact the landlord or building managers directly? If so, how would I go about getting those details (especially considering the main tenant will likely not give them to me?)

You could try to get the owner´s contact details from the land registry (Grundbuchamt). You´ll have to demonstrate a justified interest. I´d show them the Meldebescheinigung as proof that you´re living there.

 

3 hours ago, GrayedFox said:

Is it illegal for a main tenant to sublet an apartment they live in for an amount greater than the total warm rent of the apartment? (please note that I paid a deposit (Kaution) which means taking extra money in the name of "security" should here not apply, also the main tenant does not own the apartment, they have just been living here a long time)

Yes, I even once rented from a company that did nothing but sublet. Their business model was committing to rent all flats in a new building from the developer and sublet them at a profit.

 

3 hours ago, GrayedFox said:

If the main tenant's lease is terminated do I, as an subtenant, have any rights to continue living in the apartment?

No, at least not against the owner´s wishes.

 

3 hours ago, GrayedFox said:

If a main tenant pays their rent using the profits/difference they generate by greatly over charging subtenants (assuming this is legal), does that money technically count as "income" for the main tenant?

If your reason for asking this is what I think it might be you should be made aware that blackmailing is a criminal offense in Germany.

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