Refund of the Security Rental Deposit
When the tenant does not owe rent and other costs to the landlord after the handover of the apartment or house and hands over the apartment or house in perfect condition or accordance with the rent agreement, then the tenant has the right to the rental deposit refund. However, the landlord can keep part of the deposit until the final annual calculation of additional costs.
The return of the rental security deposit after the handover of the apartment or house is affected by many things.
Rental deposit reimbursement deadlines
1. Deadline When Everything is in Order
If the rent and additional costs have been paid, and there are no defects in the apartment or house upon handover, the tenant has the right to return the deposit within a few days.
2. Subsequent Claims
In previous practice, court decisions allowed the landlord to check within a maximum of 6 months whether there are possible subsequent claims based on damage to the apartment (OLG Düsseldorf, judgment of October 16, 2003 I-10 U 46/03). However, the lessor may not keep the deposit after determining the damages and making a calculation based on the established claims.
3. Estimation of Additional Costs
In this case, the return deadline depends on the annual calculation of the supplier of electricity or gas, but it is necessary to take into account two situations:
- According to the annual calculation, it is expected that the tenant will have to pay additional costs.
- The lessor must return the part of the not-required deposit for additional costs to the lessee without delay.
So, the moment the lessor calculates all additional costs and these costs are paid to the lessor, the lessor returns the remaining deposit to the lessee without delay.
4. There are Outstanding Claims
There is no specific deadline for the landlord’s remaining claims. In this situation, the landlord can keep the deposit until the matter has been fully clarified. Example: As a tenant, you do not make obvious payments or you are in a legal dispute with the landlord.
5. Prescription of Claims
As a rule, claims arising from the lease contract expire after three years. This also applies to the deposit. However, the statute of limitations begins only six months after the expiration of the rental agreement or at the end of the year in which the claim arose. For example: The rental agreement ends on 31.01.2024. The deposit return is due on 31.07.2024, while the statute of limitations for claims begins on 31.12.2024. Claims expire on 31.12.2027.
Rental Deposit Refund isn’t Regulated by German Law
German law doesn’t have precise articles or paragraphs that handle deposit refund claims and deadlines. That is why article 551 (§551 Begrenzung und Anlage von Mietsicherheiten – BGB) has nothing about payment after the end of the rent, so in practice, all decisions are based on court rulings. So, there are rulings that allowed the landlord to retain the security deposit for a maximum of six months for verification and control. The retention of the deposit due to outstanding additional costs is also related to these judgments.
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