Why is inheritance tax due even though you are family and will be living in the property yourself? Why do tenants on the ground floor have to pay for the dirt of neighbors on the fourth floor? And who pays for the broken items in the rented apartment? This was recently challenged in German courts.
Move in later
If you inherit a property and then use it yourself, you usually don’t have to pay inheritance tax. But if you move into your house or apartment too late, you risk tax breaks. It happened to a woman who inherited an apartment, had it extensively renovated, and didn’t move out until 18 months after the inheritance – and she was asked to pay for the treasury. Rightly so, the Düsseldorf financial court ruled (Az .: 4 K 2245/19), as reported by the magazine NJW Spezial. The heiress did not “immediately” take over the apartment as prescribed. If the move is not successful until more than six months after the testator’s death, the heir must credibly explain what prevented him from using earlier. The court did not accept the heiress’ arguments that she had the apartment cleaned by an individual who only had time on weekends, and that the renovations had been delayed due to the occupation of craft shops. The heiress was aware of the considerable delay in renovating and maintaining the apartment after the succession at the latest. According to the court, you could have entrusted the cleaning to a company and commissioned the craftsmen earlier.
Costly bearing damage
If it gets too cramped at home, a storage area can help. But if you are storing furniture elsewhere, you need to pay attention to the contractual provisions: is it a storage or rental contract? Because this is important in the event of damage, as shown by a decision of the Higher Regional Court of Dresden (Az .: 5 U 2247/20), which is reported by the newspaper Das Grundigentum of the owners association Haus & Grund Berlin . In this case, a customer wanted to store furniture – also for fear of flood damage. To do this, he signed a rental agreement with a company. Since this one did not have enough storage space, the items were placed in the lobby of another company. When the customer recovered the items after a while, he noticed moisture damage and wanted to have the damage replaced for an amount of 12,800 euros. But it failed in court: in this case, a rental contract rather than a storage contract had been concluded. Unlike a storage contract, the tenant stores the goods himself and cannot claim any compensation.
Landlords can allocate a portion of the retrofit costs to rent. It is not uncommon for this to lead to a dispute, for example concerning the exchange of double box glazing for insulating glazing. Tenants must tolerate this, as shown by a decision of the Berlin Regional Court (Az .: 67 S 108/19), which was also reported in Das Grundigentum. In this case, a tenant had resisted the announced replacement of the windows. He could not meet the heating and ventilation requirements after replacing the windows – ventilate four times a day. He is therefore not obliged to tolerate the exchange. The court took a different point of view. The new windows will save energy; The fact that the savings are weak here does not change this matter. The leaflet also states that it should be ventilated “if possible” four times a day. In some cases, tenants can give compelling reasons to prevent a modernization measure. But ventilation, including turning thermostats on and off, is a nuisance at best, but not harshness, the court said.
Defective roller shutter
If something breaks in a rented apartment, the question often arises: who should pay for the damage? A decision of the Stuttgart district court now states: If a landlord makes the tenant liable, he must prove the damage (Az .: 32 C 2844/19). In the case reported by the magazine of the owners’ association Haus & Grund Berlin, it was a defective roller shutter. The landlord wanted the tenant to reimburse the money for the repair because he had caused the damage. The tenant defended himself: he always used the roller shutter in accordance with the contract and as planned and at no time had access to the roller shutter mechanism inside. The court ruled in favor of the tenant. The owner had to prove that the cause of the damage was to be sought from the tenant. The owner should also explain that the damage is not due to normal wear and tear. In this case, the roller shutter was over 20 years old, so the mechanics could wear out.
The costs of cleaning common rooms can be passed on to all tenants. It doesn’t matter if and how the tenants use the rooms. You therefore have to pay in full for cleaning the stairwell even if you live on the ground floor and only use the basement stairs, the district court of Brandenburg an der Havel (Az .: 31 C 295/19), as it is called in the journal Das Grundigentum. In this case, the tenants did not want to pay the entire stairwell cleaning fee as they live on the ground floor. The court did not follow this line of argument. A differentiated charge according to use would be impractical, confusing and could also lead to continuous billing changes, according to the court.