Reduce the Rent After Announcement

When can a tenant rightfully demand a reduction in the rent in the case of a shortcoming in the apartment? Is it when the defect occurs or when you inform your landlord? What do you think did the BGH say in its judgment of November 3, 2010 (re VIII ZR 330/09)?


Sneaky lived in a beautiful apartment wherein on several spots of mildew were cultivating themselves. However, he did not inform his landlord at first. He further did not pay the rent for three consecutive months. The landlord gave extraordinary notice and secondarily ordinarily notice to the rental contract. Sneaky protested and referred to the mildew culture in the apartment – for the first time. The landlord was of the opinion that Sneaky should have told him that there was a defect in the apartment. Since Sneaky did not do so, he is not entitled to reduce the rent.

The Federal Court of Justice held that the landlord with full right gave notice to the apartment for non-payment. The tenant is only entitled to refuse payment (§320 BGB) after he has informed the landlord. Goal of this legal right is put pressure on the landlord so that he does his duty, i.e. renting a faultless place to live. The owner is to have a chance to be informed and quickly take care of any defects. Sneaky has deprived his landlord of that right (resp. duty) to take care of his responsibilities therefore it is unjust that Sneaky is to insist on his right of withholding payment.

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