Working at Home is No Sin - Usually at least

What are you to do with a landlord that does not want you to run your SOHO (Small Office / Home Office) business at home? Will he be entitled to give you notice because you are using the apartment contrary to the contract? May you insist on remaining his tenant and continue in your home office? The Federal Court of Justice gave a concise answer to this question with its judgment of July 14, 2009 (re VIII ZR 165/08).


When you rent an apartment for residential purposes then that is only what you may use it for - no more no less (arg. §535 BGB). Whenever, your landlord finds out that you are using his building for something you are not entitled to then he has the right to cancel the contract. This will be typically the case, when you run a business from home and it is publically visible and customers visit on a more or less frequent basis or have employees working there. The landlord does not have to accept this.

On the other hand, the court pointed out that certain professions are still "only living" in the apartment - although they do work there. Such will be the preparation of classes by a teacher, remote work of an employee, texting of authors / translators / typists, owners of online shops, i.a. When your business has no indications externally, then you will be on the safe side. When this turns out to be a problem, you as the tenant will be required to show and prove that you business reasons for using the apartment are insignificant .


When you want to work in your (new) apartment and you come close to a publically visible profession, do make sure that you get your landlord's permission. When asking for such, reckon that the landlord will have a "business" surcharge. Best will be to have it upfront in the contract for when it later becomes an issue, so get the approval in writing. Explicitly discuss and show in detail how little your business will intrude on the normal renting of the building.


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