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Tenancy agreement cannot be automatically terminated in the event of a dispute

If the relationship between tenant and landlord is broken and the landlord therefore wants to terminate the rental agreement, this is only possible if the tenant is essentially at fault. That's what the BGH says.

Gigi Deppe

In this case in the Rhineland, there has been a dispute for years between the landlords who live on the ground floor and the tenants on the first floor. There were arguments about whether the house rules were followed, whether the garbage cans were filled correctly and put away correctly. Noise was also an issue and the question of whether driveways had been blocked. There were written warnings and a process for rent increases.

Insults and shouting

Eventually the tenants filed a criminal complaint. They objected to the landlady calling the tenant “you bum” and shouting in the stairwell that the tenants weren't cleaning properly. Above all, the tenants objected to the fact that she had allegedly made racist comments about Turkish tenants in the house. And the courts believed them: the landlords had probably made false claims.

Now the landlords wanted to terminate the tenants without notice because the relationship had broken down. But the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), as the highest German civil court, does not allow this. The landlords could only terminate without notice if it was clear that the tenants were primarily to blame. But that is not certain here.

BGH demands Individual case consideration

The BGH stipulated this for rented commercial properties some time ago. There has been controversy among lawyers as to whether this also applies to renting out living space. The Dresden Higher Regional Court and the Düsseldorf Regional Court recently ruled in favor of the landlord.

But the BGH is now saying very clearly: you have to look at the individual case. Termination without notice is only justified if the causes of the dispute come primarily from one side. Here, however, the landlords lied about the alleged racist comments. That's why it's unclear who is to blame for the bad relationship. Termination without notice is therefore not possible.

File number: BGH VIII ZR 211/22

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