two rooms; kitchen, shower, bath; Utility room, 68 square meters plus balcony in a small village in northern Germany. Well maintained house, nice neighbors. You know each other, you help each other. And soon everyone will be drinking again at the Schützenfest. And because not only different customs apply in the northern German village, but also different prices, they take a cold rent for their apartment built in 2014, which makes Düsseldorf landlords laugh out loud. A maximum return of two percent, and the tenant still calls at night because the tap is dripping.

I do exactly that. I’m a very small real estate shark. Not that I ever wanted that. I live for rent in the Rhineland. I inherited said apartment, the property management worked. Wonderful. You don’t get stupid when you try real estate. On the contrary: I now know exactly what rights a landlady has if her tenant moves in, doesn’t pay rent, doesn’t post a deposit and then – for whatever reason – ends up in jail.

Salary stub okay, tenant recommended by management

The history is quickly told. A tenant in his late thirties presented himself to the property manager, made a reputable impression, presented a payslip from a local company, and was recommended to me by the manager as the best candidate. I said yes. That was the first mistake, because the current payslip he presented was also his last. Shortly thereafter, he lost his job during the probationary period.

Two months later, the lawyer from “Haus und Grund” shook herself on the phone with the helpless landlady and scolded: “You also need the page of the employment contract from which you can see how long the employment relationship has been running! Otherwise you never know whether the person really has a permanent employment relationship. And why didn’t you get any Schufa information?” The lawyer would not be the first choice for the diplomatic service, but she can speak plain language.

The next mistake: The new tenant gets the house key from the manager before he has paid the first rent or transferred the deposit. The big-city landlord is now horrified by so much goodwill. The landlord in the village – here a lot is still done with a handshake – knows it like that. The lawyer for “Haus und Grund” makes it clear: “Never, never give the key out of your hand without receipt of payment on your account!” It wasn’t me at all. “Never, never allow your property manager to give you the key!” Then she spoke plainly to the property manager.

Tricks of experienced rental nomads and a tenant in custody

The tenant moved in on May 1st. He paid neither in May nor in June, but instead stated that he had been fired and that he had already submitted the applications to the rental subsidy office.

From then on I’ve had enough. And I’m learning again: Two unpaid rents in a row are a reason for termination. But first of all, the tenant has a so-called grace period. Namely, another two months to settle the rent arrears. Then we’re living for free in my apartment for four months. But it gets even better. Any rental scammer (technical term for people who rent an apartment without being able or willing to pay for it) knows what to do. Pay rent a month, cheat a month, pay a month, cheat a month, and so on. So the two-month rule does not apply.

In the circle of friends, a real real estate shark is familiar with scammers. The last one left him two tame rats in the apartment to die of thirst. The friend broke the apartment door – strictly forbidden! – and brought the half-dead animals to the shelter. His advice to me: don’t hesitate, hire a lawyer. In the meantime, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, a message came from the property management via WhatsApp: The tenant is now in custody in North Rhine-Westphalia.

So I googled “tenants in jail” and re-learn for life. If the tenant is in custody for no longer than six months, there is the option for the state to pay his rent. He can, but he doesn’t have to. In the case of longer periods of imprisonment, the state refrains from continuing to pay for the prisoner’s apartment from tax money for the purpose of social rehabilitation. So the question arises: How long will the gentleman be locked away? Could this still end with a black eye for me?

Termination, important details and never in the apartment

Don’t worry, ask a lawyer. I’ll cut it short: He advises termination without notice because of unpaid rent and, alternatively, termination with due notice if he still pays the rent quickly. He dictates me passage after passage over the phone. Termination in writing by registered mail, but in no case by return receipt. Why not? The tenant can then refuse acceptance and thus further delay his termination. Correct is: Registered mail with delivery confirmation in the Post online portal.

I calculate: Then the guy will block my apartment for at least another three months. But I’ve got a new problem with that. It’s July, 30 degrees for days. The windows of the rented apartment are tilted open. I have no idea about the garbage in the apartment. How do I ensure that the apartment doesn’t go to waste and that vermin don’t move in through the window if the tenant has moved into the prison for an indefinite period? Because in the meantime several detention test dates have been decided against him. By the way: If I ever get arrested, I know my rights now! After 14 days, the first detention check must take place, and a permanent place of residence increases the chance of freedom enormously. No wonder the tenant sends me handwritten letters.

It’s getting warmer and warmer. Just go into the apartment and dispose of the garbage, check the situation? I ask the lawyer again. “Absolutely no way! You are not allowed to enter the apartment. Not because of bugs, not because of electricity! Because of nothing!” Because the same rights apply to jailbirds as to holidaymakers or tenants who are in hospital: Your apartment remains a protected space to which nobody has access against their will. If the landlord enters the apartment anyway, he must expect a report. The landlord may only open the door if it can be proven that there is imminent danger and the police are on site. And if I heard a smoke alarm, would, should? “Only if the police also hear the smoke alarm!”

Big loss and the money is gone

At the end of July, the action for eviction was applied for, accepted by the court and served on the tenant. Eureka! I paid the first legal fees and court costs. My loss from this plus loss of rent due to the cheating plus loss of rent until the new rental amounts to several thousand euros.

I feel sorry for all landlords, where the trouble drags on for much longer. And the amount of important legal finesse is large. Soon I will get a so-called title and I can get my money back from my ex-tenant. How are the chances? “Well,” says the lawyer, “you can now hire a bailiff every other year for thirty years to find out where your ex-tenant lives and check what is to be attached from him – provided that he officially earns more than the deductible that then applies. ‘ The lawyer smiled mildly.


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