Renters Living on the Ground Floor Share Costs for an Elevator

The landlord, running a residence for the elderly, sued his tenants for complete payment of the auxiliary costs for their apartment. The defendants live on the ground floor and have neither a cellar nor an attic that were to be reached by the elevator. The parties closed a standard rental contract in which the auxiliary costs were to be split among the tenants pursuant to §27 II. BV. Among these costs were those for the elevator. This Calculation Ordinance has been laid down to generally rule which operating costs can be passed on to the renter; individual agreements overrule this ordinance. In this assumption, the company demanded the elevator costs to be paid. The tenants considered this as unjust as they never needed the elevator.


The parties of a rental contract can stipulate in their contract that elevator costs be carried by the tenant -- pursuant §556 I BGB. This can also be done in a standard contract. So resulted the judgment of the Federal Court of Justice in its judgment of September 20, 2006 (re VIII ZR 103/06). Such contractual stipulation in a standard contract is not a “surprising clause”. §307 I 1 BGB determines that “surprising clauses” in standard terms are invalid because they unreasonably advantage the user.

This stipulation only reflects the law in §556a I 1 BGB and shows no difference. Following this rule, all utility costs are to be split in the ratio of the living space to total living space in the house. It seems reasonable to include the elevator cost – just as much as it is reasonable to share the illumination costs of the staircase or costs of gardening work. Such costs are typically caused in different amounts by each tenant and so are the benefits differently using the property. To divide costs by concrete usage is not easily put into practice and is very complex and confusing. The reasons for accountability for the proprietor and the understandability for the tenant demand that costs for an elevator be shared among all inhabitants.

Published on the old CMS: 2007/1/18
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 1,526 reads

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