Is Whiting an Apartment Illegal

Does a landlord have the right to demand that her tenant leaves the apartment white washed? The Federal Court of Justice had to decide on this question on September 23, 2009 (re VIII ZR 344/08).


Our landlord Larry had closed a contract with his tenant Tom. It was agreed in the standard contract that Tom has to perform the ongoing beauty repairs. The stipulation reads “The beauty repairs encompass especially (…) whiting the ceilings and walls ..."

After terminating the contract, the issue arose whether Larry or Tom was to take care of the beauty repairs. Tom insisted that the term “whiting” was an illegal standard for an apartment’s coloring.

The BGH agreed with Tom.

A stipulation that determines beauty repairs to be done in “neutral, bright, and non-see through, colors and wallpapers is considered as an unreasonable disadvantage of the tenant when it is not related to the apartment’s condition. Such stipulation obliges the tenant – also during the rental period – to a certain color style. This limits the tenant’s individuality in the design of his personal space.

This is also applicable to a stipulation to “whitewash” and is therefore invalid. It is not obsurd to understand that “whiting” as synonymous for “painting” as well as “covering in white color”.

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