Landlord claims I damaged his doorstep (without evidence)

32 posts in this topic

7 hours ago, catjones said:

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".

 

That's my experience too.  There are probably companies that have a policy to cheat the tenants, refuse repairs etc. or like they showed here on German TV, doing repairs that don't necessarily benefit the tenant and doing them through their own maintenance co. price gouging themselves in order to be able to raise the rent more.  However, private landlords can be very good or very bad, depending.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, LeonG said:

 

That's my experience too.  There are probably companies that have a policy to cheat the tenants, refuse repairs etc. or like they showed here on German TV, doing repairs that don't necessarily benefit the tenant and doing them through their own maintenance co. price gouging themselves in order to be able to raise the rent more.  However, private landlords can be very good or very bad, depending.

 

So far, my husband and I have had experiences with three German landlords.  My husband also had one or two when he lived in Germany in the 80s, but of course that was before I knew him.  All of the people we've rented from were private individuals.  

 

The first guy, down near Tubingen, was probably the best landlord we've ever had anywhere.  We found him through the Stuttgart military housing office, as my husband was in the Army at the time.  He had built the house himself and had to rent it out because he and his wife had divorced.  I looked him up not long ago and it looks like he's become a therapist.  I could see it.  He was really a nice man and treated us fairly.

 

The second was our horrible landlady from hell, who was in cahoots with the previous (American) tenants.  It would probably take me a couple of hours to explain that situation.  I think former landlady had a habit of ripping off Americans, but somehow the previous tenant had charmed her by letting her play "Oma" to her infant.  She then took the opportunity to parlay that "goodwill" into moving out of the house early, probably because ex landlady was being too intrusive and obsessive about the baby.  Ex landlady has three children, but none were married at that time, and she clearly wanted to be  a grandmother.  The ex tenant claimed she needed to move closer to the Stuttgart installations because of her babysitter.  It was a load of crap, but we needed a place to live, so we overlooked the smell of bullshit about former tenant's story. 

 

Former landlady had seemed alright, although she was a control freak from the get go.  She was obsessed with trivial things, like keeping the white plastic base of her windows spotless, even though it was exposed to the outdoor elements.  She once blew up at me because there was some dog hair in the somewhat newly installed doorway.  She claimed it was "encrusted" (she loved that word), although it took about two seconds to wipe it up.  If I had known she'd be so obsessive about such things, I would have made sure it was clean... but she had a habit of coming over without calling.  She also made "improvements", but they were all external.  She replaced the driveway and part of the fence in the backyard, but we had to deal with a weird "water saver" toilet that clogged three times and had to be flushed at least twice every time we used it.  

 

During our time in her house, her old awning started listing to the side.  I pointed it out to her, so she had her husband "fix" it.  One day, I had the awning unrolled, and a stiff breeze blew it over.  It couldn't be fixed.  She blamed me for "negligence", and claimed I should have been outside with the awning when it collapsed.  Obviously, it didn't occur to her that the awning could have fallen on me and caused injury or even death.  

 

We used our liability insurance to defray the cost of repairing or replacing the awning, but it was 17 years old, so the settlement was only 300 euros.  Ex landlady tried very hard to shame us into giving her 2500 euros for a brand new awning.  We refused, so she took it out of our Kaution, making up all kinds of ridiculous charges for arbitrary things, none of which were notated on a Protokol, because she never did one.  She also never settled the Nebenkosten with us.  We were in that house for four years.  

 

We sued her when she accused us of stealing a "nice" refrigerator (probably the one I bought for us) and dumping a dorm sized "American" fridge (it was actually a crappy fridge from the Real that was there when we moved in).  We could have demanded that she return all of the Nebenkosten from those years, since she never settled it.  It would have been over 9000 euros.  But we weren't interested in doing that, we just wanted more of our 3200 euros Kaution returned.  She had only given us about 660 euros, and had to be sternly reminded to even do that. 

 

After a year of legal wrangling with her, she finally ended up having to give back most of the Kaution she kept, plus she had to pay for her lawyer, our lawyer, court costs, and probably an additional letter from our lawyer, since she had to be reminded to pay us several months after the case was settled.  It was satisfying to win, but the process took about two years from the time we moved out until she finally paid.  It was pretty nasty.  Thanks to ex landlady, I will never willingly live in Germany without legal insurance.

 

Our current landlord in Wiesbaden is awesome.  He lives next door, leaves us alone, and doesn't freak out over things.  His house is expensive, but it's very nice.  I feel pretty sure he'll be fair when we eventually have to move.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, knotheadusc said:

 It was satisfying to win, but the process took about two years from the time we moved out until she finally paid.  It was pretty nasty.

Now I'm wondering, what happens if I have to leave Germany while such a case is still in progress? I'm already mentally preparing myself since it seems likely that I'll have to sue my current landlord over the Kaution, but I may not be in Germany anymore in two years.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, blueballade said:

Now I'm wondering, what happens if I have to leave Germany while such a case is still in progress? I'm already mentally preparing myself since it seems likely that I'll have to sue my current landlord over the Kaution, but I may not be in Germany anymore in two years.

 

You can grant your attorney power of attorney and they'll handle the case in your stead.  Or, at least I think that's what we were told.  We never had to deal with the landlady directly, once we got the lawyer involved.  She handled all of the correspondence, although we did spend a day responding in German to the landlady's many ridiculous claims against us.  It's doubtful you'd ever need to be in a courtroom.  If there's any chance the landlord would lose, they would probably rather settle.  Because if they lose, they have to pay for everything, and that can get expensive.  Especially if translators are required.

 

I don't know your landlord at all, but it's likely he is not nearly as stubborn, money hungry, and off kilter as our former landlady was.  Most reasonable people don't want to go to court because of the cost and hassle of it.  Our former landlady was very sure she could steamroll my husband, because he's a very kind person and not confrontational.  But he has limits, and people who cross his red line will get both barrels.  She didn't accept our initial demand, so that took more time.  


It took two years in our case because we didn't immediately resort to suing.  We waited for all the household bills to settle, which took a few months.  Then, after several rude emailed rebuffs from ex landlady about returning our Kaution, we involved the lawyer.  That was about eight months after we'd left the house.  It did take a year to settle after we hired the lawyer, but also consider that the COVID-19 nightmare was beginning at the time, so there weren't any court proceedings happening for weeks.  Your case probably wouldn't take as long as ours did for that reason alone.

 

We also weren't that pushy about getting the money.  In fact, we didn't even find out the case was settled until a few months after it happened.  If my husband had been pushier about it, we probably would have wrapped things up a bit sooner.

 

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, knotheadusc said:

 

I don't know your landlord at all, but it's likely he is not nearly as stubborn, money hungry, and off kilter as our former landlady was.  Most reasonable people don't want to go to court because of the cost and hassle of it.  

Thank you for sharing your experience. That makes me feel better. After seeing so many horror stories about landlords on TT, I was starting to fear the worst.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, blueballade said:

Thank you for sharing your experience. That makes me feel better. After seeing so many horror stories about landlords on TT, I was starting to fear the worst.


I totally understand. I felt the same way when we were dealing with this issue.  I would encourage you to stand up for your rights.  I think some landlords pull this kind of stuff because too many people let them get away with it.  I am pretty sure our former landlady screwed over a lot of people before she finally got nailed with a lawsuit.  It didn’t bring us any pleasure to do it, but I feel like we did a service for those who follow us in that house. ;)

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, knotheadusc said:


I totally understand. I felt the same way when we were dealing with this issue.  I would encourage you to stand up for your rights.  I think some landlords pull this kind of stuff because too many people let them get away with it.  I am pretty sure our former landlady screwed over a lot of people before she finally got nailed with a lawsuit.  It didn’t bring us any pleasure to do it, but I feel like we did a service for those who follow us in that house. ;)

 

I'm sure that many landlords are just counting on tenants not to bother.  I only rented one apartment in Germany before I bought and I didn't have any problems but I did have problems with a landlady in Canada and it seemed to be very common there for them to try to keep your deposit.  I solved that in my case by telling her that maybe the health authorities might hear about the black mold in her building and then she gave me half back and I figured it good enough.  They are counting on people not going to court and if one does, it's maybe 1 out of 10 or less, it's not enough to stop them doing it.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, LeonG said:

 

I'm sure that many landlords are just counting on tenants not to bother.  I only rented one apartment in Germany before I bought and I didn't have any problems but I did have problems with a landlady in Canada and it seemed to be very common there for them to try to keep your deposit.  I solved that in my case by telling her that maybe the health authorities might hear about the black mold in her building and then she gave me half back and I figured it good enough.  They are counting on people not going to court and if one does, it's maybe 1 out of 10 or less, it's not enough to stop them doing it.

 

Overall, my husband and I have been very lucky.  Ex landlady is the only one in almost 19 years of my husband and I renting together who has ever tried to keep our deposit.  I read up a lot on the landlord messageboards.  Some were openly admitting that they do everything they can to keep the deposit.  I am very certain that even if the awning hadn't fallen, our ex landlady was going to try to keep our money.  She was quite money obsessed and cheap.  I have read other accounts from people who have said their landlords were super nice until they were moving out; then they turned shitty.  

 

Our situation had gone sour long before we moved out, but I think she would have pulled this crap regardless.  We probably would have let her do it if she hadn't become so incredibly disrespectful and mean to me, personally.  I left that house genuinely traumatized and very sore from days of cleaning.  It took many weeks for me to be able to relax in our current home.  I kept expecting our current landlord to come over unannounced and bitch about some arbitrary and trivial thing.  He never has.  In fact, a couple of months ago, he urgently wanted to talk to my husband because we had overpaid Nebenkosten for the two years we've lived in his house and he wanted to refund us.  He asked if we wanted a 1200 euro rent reduction or cash!  We were pleasantly shocked!  

 

I'm actually kind of glad ex landlady got so rude, because that behavior was what clued me in to the necessity of legal insurance.  I thought maybe she'd try to sue us.  She did seem almost disappointed that we had liability insurance, since I'm sure she realized they would give her a low settlement.  Most Americans in the military community don't bother with that.  Sometimes, they end up regretting it.  I have one friend who had to pay for a whole new kitchen for her ex landlord.  It wiped out her savings.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, knotheadusc said:

I'm actually kind of glad ex landlady got so rude, because that behavior was what clued me in to the necessity of legal insurance.  I thought maybe she'd try to sue us.  She did seem almost disappointed that we had liability insurance, since I'm sure she realized they would give her a low settlement.  Most Americans in the military community don't bother with that.  Sometimes, they end up regretting it.  I have one friend who had to pay for a whole new kitchen for her ex landlord.  It wiped out her savings.

 

I had legal insurance but the one time I had a problem, they refused based on small print so I don't have it anymore.  No point in paying if they don't help.

Haftpflicht is very important here.  I just read on the Icelandic media that a young couple who'd just moved to Berlin had a problem with their washing machine.  It leaked while they weren't home and caused damage not only to their apartment but two apartments below.  The landlord wants them to pay 35k and of course they didn't have insurance.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never had a problem with any landlord here. The last one I had was my landlord for just under 20 years, and the day I left, he gave me a big hug and told me that if I, or any of my 3 children, needed a place, he would find something for them (he owned over 40 buildings in the area, at that time).  

 

I hate to hear of people having problems with landlords, or vice versa,  because it shouldn't be that way.  People rent homes, look after them, the landlord should do repairs that are his responsibility, and it should all work for everybody, but, of course, it doesn't.  I hope the OP gets this resolved, but whichever way it goes, it's going to be awkward afterwards.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In case anyone is curious about what the lawyer from the Mieterverein told me, he basically confirmed what many people have said here. The landlord has no evidence to prove that I caused the damage, so he can't do anything. He is not allowed to take it out of my Kaution either because it's outside of my apartment. He hasn't bothered me since I replied to his email. We're moving out in a month. Fingers crossed that everything will go smoothly and I can get out of here for good.

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now