Very strange parking place interaction

15 posts in this topic

Hello all,

 

I have something I would like to crowdsource here on the forum.  About 2 years ago, I rented out my dedicated parking space to someone else in my general complex, as I did not need it.  I checked my bank statements and payments of ca. 27 euros a month were being made, and that was that.  Yesterday I received a phone call from an unknown number purpoting to be the renter's son.  He said his father had died over a year ago and he needed me to cancel the automatic payments.  I asked him why he hadn't done this himself, and he said he had no access.  This seemed strange for next of kin to have no access but I said I'd look into it.  He also wanted payments starting from the time his father died returned. 

 

I went back into my recent bank statements and there have been no payments coming in from this individual for the last few months at least.  So it seems that the payment is already no longer being transferred.  I called the number of the renter and it was disconnected, so the story is plausible.  Now, if the son contacts me again, I plan to tell him that the payment has been discontinued for some time.  There is a possibility that the father's account continued to pay for a short time between the time he died and the time the payment was stopped, but I have no interest in chasing this down frankly.  I have no idea when the father died (around June?) and didn't go back far enough to discover when the last payment landed in my account. 

 

Do I have any legal liability to pay money back?  It took the son ca. 1 year to contact me.  I had no use of my own parking space during that time, and frankly could have used it.  The information he gave me does not add up, so it's unclear if he's the person handling the affairs of the deceased (otherwise would he not have access to the account or at least know what's happening with it?).  If he asks for additional money, can I tell him it was his responsibility and I'm not obligated to find out what's going on? 

 

I haven't personally dealt with wrapping up things for a person who passed away and certainly not in Germany.  Can anyone advise? 

 

Thank you so much and I apologize for the post being a bit long. 

 

 

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57 minutes ago, tinwoman said:

Do I have any legal liability to pay money back?  It took the son ca. 1 year to contact me.

 

No, you do not have to pay anything back. In fact, if you wanted to be a dick about it, you could insist on post-payment of the outstanding rent for the period of up to 3 months after the contract was finally canceled (depending on the notice period specified in the rental contract), with the funds coming from the deceased's estate. I'd suggest that you just split the difference and call it even at this point.

 

In any case, now that the son has officially terminated the contract, you could officially waive the notice period and start using the parking space yourself again immediately (or rent it out again, if that's your decision).

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I would ask for a scan of the death certificate or any other proof. Just to be sure.

 

And then, IMO, the right thing to do is pay back 27 euros a month that were paid 'in error' from when the person died. Maybe even the month before just to be nice. Did you report this income in your tax returns? In the likely event you did not, then there is no hesitation in returning it. It is less than 300€, right? Why even fight it? It is not implausible it would take a year or so to track down every odd and end being payed out from a bank account. It's not unusual to have more than one bank account either.

 

Now do you have to? I would consider it more a moral or ethical obligation than a legal one. But let your own conscious guide you. A dead person cannot apologize for the inconvenience of being dead and not informing you in a timely manner about their no longer needing the parking space, which you said you did not need. I think if I were on my deathbed, possibly intubated and drugged up, I would also have a few more important things to dwell on.

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There was no written contract, which in Germany is probably not a very smart thing, but you're right, at this point I don't care.  I'm sorry his dad died but I don't want him thinking he can hassle me for petty amounts of money either.  People are so strange.  I have no idea why he made that call other than to inform me that my space was free again. 

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If there is no written contract, the standard notice period defined in the BGB applies - 3 months to the end of the month. Like I said, you would be entirely within your rights to demand payment of the outstanding rent - pointing to the monthly payments you've received previously as proof of the existing verbal agreement

 

I politely disagree with alderhill that you have some kind of moral obligation to repay the money back to the day the renter died. Someone (the executor of the will?) obviously noticed that payments were going out and stopped them at some point. This is where they would have been obliged to notify you and give notice on the contract. My advice (as a non-lawyer) is to just offer to call it even at this point. They'd be crazy to challenge such an offer unless they're completely unfamiliar with German inheritance and contract law.

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1 hour ago, tinwoman said:

There was no written contract, which in Germany is probably not a very smart thing, but you're right, at this point I don't care.  I'm sorry his dad died but I don't want him thinking he can hassle me for petty amounts of money either.  People are so strange.  I have no idea why he made that call other than to inform me that my space was free again. 

 

Well clearly, he wants 'wasted' money back. Not hard to understand. I don't consider it a big deal either way and wouldn't mind giving the money back, but that's just me. 

 

Since you want to say no, then just say no. As jeffo points out, if he wants to get lawyers involved, he is going to lose.

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2 hours ago, alderhill said:

I would ask for a scan of the death certificate or any other proof. Just to be sure.

 

That would certainly be a nice little test of the caller's credibility...

 

I am not a lawyer nor do I have any experience of wrapping up people's affairs in Germany, however...

 

I wonder why it took the bank so long - or how long it took the bank - to stop payments. I would expect a dead person's accounts - particularly current accounts - to be frozen pretty quickly. Not months later. That rings alarm bells. I would also expect the deceased financial obligations to cease upon death. I'm guessing that all contracts - written or verbal - would cease and this without observing notice periods. A better informed TTer will be along shortly...

 

Then I would be asking myself what authority the caller has to demand repayment. He may or may not be the executor of the will. If he is not the executor - and you would want proof of that - he can go whistle. Even if he is the executor it is probably not worth the hassle for him to get a lawyer onto you for such a small sum. On the other hand, what price peace of mind if he turns out to be annoyingly persistent?

 

And finally... in your worst dreams you could pay this man off, and then someone else could come along asking for repayment...

 

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I wouldn't pay him back.  You did not have use of the parking space which was rented out as far as you knew.  Maybe his car was even sitting there long after he died for all you know.  It was his to go through his fathers bank statements and figure out his obligations and cancel contracts and if he choose to do that a year later, that's not on you. 

 

As for canceling the dauerauftrag that his father set up to pay you, he can do it if he has access or otherwise the bank can.  There is nothing you can do to cancel it.  As others have said, you have no proof that this guy is the son and the only heir nor when his father died.   In your shoes, I would find out exactly when the payments stopped so that you can relay that to him and tell him that you are willing to let it go although you could actually demand payments until he cancels the contract.

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There were other automatic payments coming from the dad's account:

1. Utilities/rent

2. Internet/TV

 

So, if the son only now found out this automatic payment that means these weren't cancelled in time either. Do you think a TV provider in Germany would return money? No way, they would demand a written termination by fax, and 3 months payments after receiving the said Kündigung.

 

El Jeffo is totally right, not demanding 3 months payments is by German culture standards fair enough.

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Very interesting range of answers-- optimista might have a point about a death being an exception to the usual rules of terminating a contract.  BUT it strikes me that it's the son's responsibility to end the various outgoing payments and if he delays this, it would be logical that that's on him and has nothing to do with me.  And I am certain that he or a sibling has the power to manage the bank account(s).  I realize that of course everyone had other things to worry about besides a parking spot payment, so I'm not really worried about the how long it took to call me....especially since it does not appear his account has paid me anything any time recently (but why does the son think the bank is still paying?)

 

I am just going to hope that he never calls back.  The amount of money shouldn't be a make or break issue for anybody and not having to sort it would make my life a lot easier.  If he does, that's going to be an awkward conversation I guess.  *sigh*

 

If there are any knowledgeable lawyers who care to chime in, I'm really curious now!  And I think the others are too. 

 

:/

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Exactly how hard is it to search your bank accout for all transactions from Herr Totemann  ?

 

 

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Have you checked with Hausmeister that he is no longer there? Usually they need to know what cars are parked in these designated spaces.

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I just checked my regular bank statements that come in the mail back a few months.  To review the previous few years searching for just his name, I would have to take half a day off work, travel into the city, and visit the main branch of the bank since all the satellite branches are closed due to Covid.

 

Really can't be arsed to do it at this point.  Didn't know the guy, met him once to set up the rent for the space, found him rather unpleasant at that time.  Was thinking of calling him to cancel so I can use the space myself, frankly, but hadn't gotten to it yet.

 

As long as I know his bank isn't paying me money I may legally have to return at some point, I'm disinclined to do anything further.  So if the son can't do anything to me, then I would like to (politely and with sympathy for his situation) tell him to go pound sand. 

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IIRC, there are different kinds of Vollmacht (power of attorney) for bank accounts. Some are terminated upon the death of the client (and I think the approval of all heirs is required to give out any information about the account let alone make changes) and some go beyond death, but even then there can be an issue with the heirs. 

So it's not quite as easy as it may seem for him to cancel or even to get access to the information. 

 

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