Tenants do not have to pay for emergency caretaker service

Tenants do not have to pay for emergency caretaker service

Quick help in the event of pipe bursts or power outages can be very expensive. But landlords are not allowed to pass on the costs of such emergency operations.

Leaks and burst pipes can be expensive

VTenants are not allowed to charge their tenants with the costs of having the caretaker ready in an emergency. The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe decided in a dispute in Berlin. The December ruling was released on Thursday. The file number is VIII ZR 62/19.

The caretaker had received the money for possible emergency operations outside of business hours – for example in the event of a power failure, a burst water pipe or a broken heating system. In total, the “emergency service flat rate” in the utility bill for 2016 amounted to almost 1200 euros. The tenants refused to pay their share of a good 100 euros. The landlord then sued them.

So far, most of the courts had assumed that such an “emergency service flat rate” was one of the costs for the caretaker. These costs may be passed on to the tenants as operating costs.

The highest civil judge of the BGH decided differently. The classic caretaker costs would arise from tasks that he performs routinely. The judgment gives many examples of this: for example, when the caretaker checks whether the doors are locked at night; or checks that the stairwell is properly cleaned.

However, this is not about a “general control and monitoring activity”, it says in the judgment. The caretaker should be available for the problem and then alert a specialist company. According to the BGH, this would be the task of the property management or landlord during the day. The costs are therefore not operating, but administrative costs. This must be borne by the landlord himself.