What to Do about a Missing Tenant

No payments? An overfilled mailbox? A dark apartment? These are typical signs of a tenant that has gone missing. LG2G will instruct you on what to do and acquaint you with the BGH's ruling of July 14, 2011 (re VIII ZR 45/09).


Alexa rents out apartments to individuals. One of her tenants suddenly did not pay anymore, never answered any calls, the mailbox was stuffed, and nobody had seen him since who knows when. Alexa was fed up with this situation and decided to take action. She cancelled the apartment without notice and left her notification letter in the mailbox. After one month and still no response, she opened the apartment and disposed of most of the furnishings and deposited the rest in her facilities.

Soon afterwards, the tenant reappeared and demanded € 62,000 in damages because Alexa had disposed of most of his belongings or damaged them. The court held that such action was illegal "self-help" - even though the tenant had no right to use the apartment anymore (because of the termination). Nevertheless, Alexa was expected to file an eviction notice in court. And if need be, then the writ would have to have been publicly served. Such means of service is difficult when the defendant's whereabouts are not known. In such cases, the notice is displayed on the court's bulletin board. A landlord who clears out an abandoned apartment without a legal instrument from the court is liable for the safekeeping of any removed items. At a minimum, the landlord should create an inventory list of all items, including their assumed worth.

Such is the reasoning of the court! LG2G further suggests that when removing the tenant's belongings, you have at least one witness with you. One of your witnesses should be your lawyer, who can also estimate the value of each and every single item.

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