Landlord claims I damaged his doorstep (without evidence)

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Last night I had a pretty nasty visit from the landlord of the flat I'm renting. He showed me that a corner of the granite on the doorstep outside the building has been knocked off, and he's sure that I did it because "we saw you drive up to the doorstep the other day and no one else drives here". This is nonsense because there's another neighbour who parks inside and drives past the doorstep on a daily basis. Occasionally postmen pull up there too, not to mention the landlord himself also parks just outside the door.

 

We checked the car together and didn't find any scratch marks (I took some photos of it today), and there's no camera footage showing anything, so he has nothing to back up his claim. But he's insisting that I pay for damages because "I cannot prove that I didn't do it". I'm going to contact the Mieterverein today. What would my best course of action be? I'm worried that the landlord will try to get some outrageous estimate and take it out of my Kaution if I don't pay up now. Should I just try to de-escalate and pay with my Haftpflichtversicherung, even though he has no proof that I did anything?

 

Thanks in advance! 

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12 minutes ago, blueballade said:

Should I just try to de-escalate and pay with my Haftpflichtversicherung

 

No. No. And no.

Doesn't he have an insurance he can claim on ? If not, tough. Risk of being a property owner. Repairs and maintenance come with the territory.

Proving you didn't do something ? Mmmm. Nice. Extortion tactics. If you give an inch, he'll take a yard.

Leave it to the Mietverein. He has nothing on you. Sleep tight.

But what a bastard. Sorry, had to say it.

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1st point, you haven't told us that you didn't do it, so I will answer both versions :-).

 

Assuming you didn't do it.

Telling your Haftpflichtversicherung that you caused the damage when you didn't would be fraud and you shouldn't do it. 

If he wants to blame you then he has to prove it, so tell him you'll see him in court if he is certain you did it. 

 

Assuming you did but he just can't prove it...

Just make the claim on your  Haftpflichtversicherung.

 

 

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if you damaged it with a car (or bike) and didn't immediately report it to the landlord, then it's also a hit & run (though some exceptions based on location of object) - and that opens a whole can of worms of the landlord going to the police with a criminal complaint.  Point being, probably better not to admit/agree you did damage the step and then did not report it to him.

 

disclaimer: I'm not a German Rechtsanwalt, and certainly not yours 

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Isn't it up to him to prove that you did do it, rather than you having to prove that you didn't do it?  "Innocent until proven guilty"

 

Definitely get advice from either the Mietverein or a lawyer.

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Thank you all for the comments. According to the landlord, I could have hit it without knowing, but with a chunk that size, I'd think that I'd at least have felt it or seen a mark on my car. So as far as I know, I don't think it was me.

 

Got an appointment with a lawyer next Monday.

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49 minutes ago, blueballade said:

Got an appointment with a lawyer next Monday.

 

I wouldn't recommend speculating on whether you might have done the damage without knowing it.

Tell the lawyer your landlord is blaming you for something you did not do.  There was no car damage to account for the claim and you would have known it if there were.

It's not that 

52 minutes ago, blueballade said:

I don't think it was me

 

It's "It wasn't me".

Do not leave room for doubt.

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@catjones agreed. Thank you. 

 

The landlord sent an email just now saying that the damage occurred on Saturday and that he apparently saw me charging my car by the door that day, but I was in Munich all day, with receipts and photos as proof and a friend as a witness. So there.

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16 minutes ago, fraufruit said:

 

What did they say?

I haven't had the consultation yet. Just set up an appointment for next Monday.

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Dear blueballade

 

Please do not spend money on an attorney. You are experiencing very common behavior in this country. This aggression is usually just hot air. If you make a mistake in the future (which in this case you have not), then just own up to it and pay for it (with your insurance). 

 

Experiencing repeated unpleasant and unnecessary aggression, I finally purchased the best legal insurance money can buy. It makes me feel much better. If only I had this when my I received a letter from my neighbor about my plants. 

 

As a newcomer, instead of learning basic German sentence structure, I immersed myself in German plant law. 

 

I am by nature a rule follower. So I acknowledged the attorney's letter by confirming the hedge would be removed promptly, since the height of it was over the allowed limits. 

Because of my legal studies, I did the only thing allowed to me. I erected the largest garden house the law would allow (much larger than my hedge, which was the issue). 

 

All very unfortunate, as I didn't even need a garden house....

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10 minutes ago, blueballade said:

@catjones agreed. Thank you. 

 

The landlord sent an email just now saying that the damage occurred on Saturday and that he apparently saw me charging my car by the door that day, but I was in Munich all day, with receipts and photos as proof and a friend as a witness. So there.

Don't tell the landlord that yet.

 

Just say it wasn't me and see how far he wants to push it.

 

Either way you'll win.

 

Good luck!

 

Note: Without going into details I was accused of something (by a mad fucking German) a couple of years back. First it would go to Family Court and then Criminal Court. Yes, it was all bullshit, but very distressing bullshit. I had a very good lawyer holding my hand and keeping me from freaking out. The Family Court case was scheduled for 2 hours but it lasted less than 20mins when my lawyer presented contradictory evidence to the narrative of the complainent's Police statement. The Judge found for me, charged all costs to the complainent and suggested they drop the criminal charge, Which they did the next day.

 

German's are weird. Eventhough I married one.

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1 hour ago, fraufruit said:

 

What did they say?

 

Yeah, what did the Mietverein say ?? 

 

 

37 minutes ago, rammot said:

Dear blueballade

Please do not spend money on an attorney.

 

Maybe by "lawyer on Monday" the OP really means "Mietverein" ? 

 

If the landlord has alleged a specific date and you KNOW and can prove you were not on site that date, I'd tell him that before you started messing about with a lawyer.  But probably the landlord is more sure about your identity than getting the right day.

 

 

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28 minutes ago, rammot said:

I finally purchased the best legal insurance money can buy. It makes me feel much better.

 

me too (except for the "best" part)

 

29 minutes ago, rammot said:

I immersed myself in German plant law. 

since the height of [the hedge] was over the allowed limits. 

I did the only thing allowed to me. I erected the largest garden house the law would allow (much larger than my hedge, which was the issue). 

 

 

me too.  sort of.  after a neighbor reached over the chain link fence and cut bushes down to about 150 cm (I was surprised by the apparent display of athleticism, unless she got someone else to do it), I put a passive aggressive sign on one of the cut bushes that reminded her even if a plant is supposed to be no more than 2 m high, a firewood shed could be 3 m high and 10 long.  I think she got the message as the bushes are now pushing 3 m and she hasn't attacked them again.  she has never mentioned the cutting or the sign.

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55 minutes ago, DoubleDTown said:

Maybe by "lawyer on Monday" the OP really means "Mietverein" ? 

 

Actually, yes. The lawyer is from the Mieterverein. The consultations that they offer are with lawyers who work there. I also purchased legal insurance through them, but I'm hoping that we won't have to go that far. After the consultation, I'll share what they tell me. The same landlord has received an email the Mieterverein sent on my behalf about a different issue before and just straight up ignored it.

 

I did reply that I was in Munich on the alleged day and have proof thereof, but maybe I should have withheld that information. Now he can try to claim that he remembered wrong and it was on a different day. Either way he still has no proof, and I'm forwarding his initial "notification of damage" to the lawyer.

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1 hour ago, Chelski said:

Note: Without going into details I was accused of something (by a mad fucking German) a couple of years back. First it would go to Family Court and then Criminal Court. Yes, it was all bullshit, but very distressing bullshit. I had a very good lawyer holding my hand and keeping me from freaking out. The Family Court case was scheduled for 2 hours but it lasted less than 20mins when my lawyer presented contradictory evidence to the narrative of the complainent's Police statement. The Judge found for me, charged all costs to the complainent and suggested they drop the criminal charge, Which they did the next day.

 

German's are weird. Eventhough I married one.

My gosh. I'm glad you won, but that sounds stressful as hell. 

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1 hour ago, blueballade said:

My gosh. I'm glad you won, but that sounds stressful as hell. 

 

It had its moments as the German judicial system grinds so slowly and it was a tough 3 months.

 

But for better or worse, I did get the chance to meet a wonderful English-speaking pyschologist who helped me sort out 'my head' in the midst of the mayhem.

 

Meanwhile my lawyer just kept telling me to STFU and wait.

 

He was right.

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My husband and I spent a year fighting our former landlady, who tried to rip off our Kaution.  We had legal insurance, so she finally settled.  But it took a long time and was pretty stressful.

 

I am glad we sued her, though.  She was horrible, and tried to take advantage of my husband’s good nature.  She also falsely accused us of theft.  

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I've rented in quite a few places, but not in germany.  I've always rented from a company vs. individual owner.  Individual owners are emotionally involved with the property and they can express their personalities in the management of the building.  Some good, some nutty.  Professionally run apartments see tenants as customers and transactions...individual owners tend to see tenants as "those people living in my building".

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One of my many landlords didn't return the Kaution. A letter from my lawyer solved that quickly. So either Mieterverein or Rechtsschutzversicherung is good to have. Otherwise I had no bad landlord in Germany.

 

But I had a shit British landlord in New Zealand trying to rip off new immigrants. He didn't return our Kaution. And living in Auckland we had paid a very high Kaution. In New Zealand all Kaution have to be deposited at a neutral adminstration ( maybe a good idea for Germany too!?)  He didn't do that. He didn't go down the official road. We concluded that he very likely didn't pay taxes on his rental income. In an email we pointed out that we will contact that neutral administration to start a formal process to get the Kaution back. Boy was he angry and we quickly got our Kaution back. 

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