Additional payments for heating costs: What you should know about the utility bill

Heating costs have risen significantly and many tenants are wondering what deductions and additional payments they will soon have to reckon with.

Additional payments for heating costs: What you should know about the utility bill

Heating costs have risen significantly and many tenants are wondering what deductions and additional payments they will soon have to reckon with. And what if you can't afford the money?

Many tenants dread the next heating bill. Given the soaring gas and oil prices, how much will the back payment be? Some housing companies expect additional payments of up to two months' rent. The German Tenants' Association provides answers to the most important questions on the subject:

What additional payments should tenants expect in the coming year?

For gas, for example, tenants have to reckon with an average of 11.84 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the German Tenants' Association (DMB), with reference to figures from the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries. An increase of 83 percent compared to the previous year. New contracts tend to cost even more.

Because almost 90 percent of households in Germany are heated with gas, oil or district heating, almost all tenants are affected by the price increases, according to the DMB. Anyone who wants to know what costs they will incur can use the Stiftung Warentest's surcharge calculator.

Do tenants have to comply with the landlord's demands and immediately make a higher advance payment for the additional costs?

The German Tenants' Association says: No. The landlord has no fundamental right to higher advance payments. To do this, he must first send the tenant a statement of the ancillary costs that is correct in terms of form and content. Landlords may only demand a higher advance payment in two cases: namely when there is a balance to be debited to the tenant and it is foreseeable that the previous advance payments will not be sufficient.

According to the DMB, the amount of the monthly advance payment is the result of the annual statement divided by twelve. Landlords should not add a general security surcharge. However, if it is clear and demonstrable that the costs are increasing or have already increased, landlords could include this cost increase in the increase in the future discount.

The German Tenants' Association advises tenants to have the basis for the increase explained. In any case, an adjustment is only possible once per accounting year. In addition, landlords are obliged to choose the cheapest possible provider, i.e. to act economically.

Attention: Anyone who does not pay or is only able to pay the increased advance payments at all or only partially is threatened with termination without notice. According to the DMB, if the amount in arrears is more than one month's rent.

Should tenants save money better for the coming year?

The DMB advises saving some money now in order to be able to settle the additional costs in the coming year. However, tenants could also voluntarily agree an increased advance payment with the landlord this year in order to prevent high additional payments.

What options do tenants have if they cannot bear the costs?

In this case, the German Tenants' Association advises you to seek talks with the landlord. There is the possibility of agreeing on a repayment modality - such as payment in installments. In addition, tenants could inquire about government support from their tenant association. Aid such as housing benefit or other grants could help through the financial bottleneck.

The utility bill is here. How long do tenants have to settle their debt?

If the bill is correct, tenants usually have up to 30 days to settle the balance after receipt. Any ambiguities or errors should be reported to the lessor immediately within the deadline, the DMB reports. However, in order not to risk termination, they should first pay the bill with reservations.

If tenants have doubts about the correctness of the utility bill, they have the right to check it. In this case, tenants must be presented with the original receipts - if available.

Can tenants be terminated if they do not pay the back payment for the ancillary costs on time?

This has not yet been clarified by the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, tenants should be careful. According to the DMB, judgments by district and regional courts have shown that non-payment of the additional payment amounts has already led to terminations.

(This article was first published on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.)


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