Termination by landlord: This is how tenants can defend themselves

Not only tenants, but also landlords can terminate a rental agreement.

Termination by landlord: This is how tenants can defend themselves

Not only tenants, but also landlords can terminate a rental agreement. For example, if the resident culpably violates his contractual obligations or disturbs the peace of the house. What to consider.

As a rule, it is the tenant of an apartment who terminates the contract. But it also works the other way around: landlords also have the right to give notice. However, this cannot be done arbitrarily. "There must be a legally recognized reason for termination," says Rolf Janßen from the DMB tenant protection association in Frankfurt am Main. You can read here what these are and what tenants can do against such a termination.

What are legally recognized grounds for termination?

"Ordinary termination is possible if the landlord has a legitimate interest," says Julia Wagner from the House Owners' Association

First: The tenant culpably violates his contractual obligations and does not pay the rent, disturbs the peace of the house, sublets without permission or uses the apartment in breach of contract. Second: The landlord registers his own use of the apartment. And thirdly: The house in which the apartment is located will be demolished and rebuilt.

With these reasons for termination, landlords are obliged to comply with the contractually agreed or statutory notice period.

What are the notice periods?

They depend on the length of stay. The notice period is three months up to a period of residence of five years, six months up to a period of residence of eight years and nine months thereafter. "Longer notice periods for the landlord and extension clauses can be agreed in the rental agreement," says Janßen.

Can landlords also terminate a tenancy without notice?

Yes - if there is an important reason. And this is the case if, given the circumstances in the individual case, a landlord cannot reasonably be expected to continue the tenancy after weighing up the interests of both parties, says Wagner.

Such termination without notice is conceivable, for example, if the tenant leaves the apartment to third parties without authorization. Or the tenant is in arrears with paying the rent or a significant part of the rent for two consecutive dates.

The landlord is also entitled to terminate the contract without notice if the tenant disturbs the peace of the house for a long time - despite being asked to stop doing so. "In the event of an extraordinary termination without notice, however, the tenant must be granted an eviction period of about one to two weeks," says Wagner.

What goals are landlords pursuing with the termination - can it also be about a rent increase?

"Landlord notices are ineffective if they are linked to the offer to continue the tenancy at a higher rent," emphasizes Janssen. From legal advice, he knows many cases in which the landlord initially states a legally recognized reason for termination, such as personal use, but then re-lets the apartment after the tenant has moved out.

"In such cases, the landlord usually aims to achieve a higher rent through new rentals than would be possible through rent increases in the existing tenancy," says Janßen.

What can the tenant do against a notice of termination?

In the event of an ordinary termination, the tenant has the opportunity to object to the termination. He can demand that the tenancy be continued if termination means hardship for the tenant, his family or another member of his household.

"This must always be assessed on a case-by-case basis," says Julia Wagner. "The interests of both sides must be taken into account." In the case of termination without notice due to unpaid rent, it is possible to avert the termination by paying the rent arrears. "This renders the termination without notice ineffective," says Janssen.

What other tips should those affected know?

The tenant should have a termination legally checked - either by a tenant protection association or a lawyer specializing in tenancy law.

Above all, the notice period specified by the landlord and the reasons for the termination must be checked. "Especially in the case of terminations for personal use, in many cases the reasons given in the termination are actually not available," says Janßen, referring to the everyday advice on tenancy law.

(This article was first published on Tuesday, March 07, 2023.)