Duties of a Tenant While Traveling

Generally, every person has the right to go on vacation and leave the apartment alone - as long as you wish. But what if something happens during your absence? Who will have to come up for any damages due to the breaking of a fresh-water pipe, hailstorms, burglars, and simi-lar catastrophes?


1.  Obligation of Tenants

Even though no statutory rule explicitly says so, the tenant has the duty to ward off dangers to the apartment. In other words, the tenant has to take care that damages to the apartment and the house will be avoided. The duty remains if he is absent from his apartment.   A tenant acts with gross negligence if he does not close the windows prior to departure so that no water can enter. Insurance companies will never cover such grossly negligent damage! Closed windows are also relevant for preventing break-ins. A tilted window can be opened within a few seconds. Especially for a longer absence, the tenant's duty is to make sure the apartment is accessible in cases of emergency. You can leave the key with neighbors, friends, or the house warden. The landlord has no right to demand that you leave the keys with him. He may demand to know whom to refer to in order to have the apartment opened in case of an emergency. This will prevent you from having to cover a broken door to the apartment in case a gas leakage happens, fire breaks out, or other comparable dramatic dangers happen.

2.  Vacation on "Balconia"

If you remain at home for vacation, you will not want to miss parties or inviting friends. By the way, the Germans have a cute euphemism to say "I was on vacation at home." They would say, "I was on vacation at Balconia (= Ich war auf Balkonien in Urlaub." The question if you may party in the joint yard of the house or on the balcony has been making a lot of work for the courts for ages. First of all, it depends if there are any stipulations in your rental contract and if the yard may be used by the tenants at all.   No question is if you may use the terrace or balcony to your apartment! Since they are part of what you rented, you are entitled to use them to invite friends and serve meals. Nevertheless, this will never allow you to disturb your neighbor. You are expected to be considerate of them. Thick billows of smoke or loud noise late in the night will never be accepted. What in the individual case can be accepted or not is heavily discussed - not only among neighbors. A neighbor managed to obtain the court's permission to have a BBQ on his balcony not more than twice a month.LG Stuttgart only allows a BBQ three times a year.   Not only the "if" and "how" plays a role for the BBQ. The annoyance is to be kept at a minimum and usually the party is to be over at 10 p.m. However,OLG Düsseldorf ( re 13 U 53/02) once ruled that in special cases, e.g. a birthday, that a party at home is to be accepted as socially adequate until midnight.

3.  Penal Consequences

If a BBQ pal does not consider his neighbors, he might be subject to a fine. The typical situation would be if this pal annoys the neighbors so much that the smoke concentrates in the sleeping and living rooms of non-at­ten­ding neighbors. This constitutes a severe annoyance and infringes the regulations of ImSchG NRWOLG Düsseldorf (re 5 Ss (OWi) 149/95 - (OWi) 79/95 I).

4.  Forbid BBQ per Rental Contract

To prevent future disputes, proprietors may write into new contracts that BBQ parties are forbidden on balconies and the premises. If the tenant ignores this rule, the landlord may admonish him. After this admonishment, the landlord may, upon the occurrence of another such party, terminate the contract without notice. So is the ruling of LG Essen (re 10 S 438/01). Even after closing a rental contract, landlords can stipulate such prohibition by changing the rules of the house.

Hopefully, you are now armed with arguments when your crank of a neighbor wants your next BBQ to be stopped!


Published on the old CMS: 2007/1/19
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 73 reads


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