The cost of living goes up. Consumers have to pay a lot more money for electricity, gas and heating oil. This also has an effect on the additional costs. Many landlords are therefore pushing for a higher down payment, which acts like a rent increase. FOCUS Online says what is allowed and what is not.

Autumn could be a big challenge for many tenants. The ancillary costs are skyrocketing due to the sharp rise in energy costs. In some cases, single and family households have to reckon with an additional payment in the three-digit range.

“The big hammer comes for tenants in autumn 2022 at the latest, when the exorbitant utility bill for 2021 ends up in the mailbox,” Volker Rastätter from the Munich tenants’ association had already told FOCUS Online in the spring.

Even then, Rastätter warned against an indirect rent increase. If the ancillary costs continue to rise rapidly, landlords may increase the monthly installments because they are part of the rent including heating, thus indirectly increasing the rent.

Lukas Siebenkotten, President of the German Tenants’ Association, fears that tenants will soon have to pay “a good deal more” for rent in view of the high inflation rate, mainly due to the rise in electricity and gas prices.

Basically yes, if the landlord has previously submitted a statement for the current year. If this results in significant increases and the tenant has to pay a lot of money in arrears, landlords can increase the advance payments.

This procedure provides a lot of material for discussion between tenants and landlords, as tenants’ associations explain on request. In order to be able to pay oil, gas and district heating bills, the first landlords are now pushing for higher monthly advance payments in the current billing year – and before a bill is even available – according to the German Tenants’ Association. “The desire for higher discounts is being increasingly expressed to tenants,” was the basic tenor.

“The landlord can increase the sum of the monthly advance payments if the tenant is threatened with a hefty back payment due to the increased heating costs,” explains Volker Rastätter from the Munich Tenants’ Association.

This increases the rent including heating, because this is made up of the fixed rent and the advance payments. The landlord bases the amount of the advance payment on the current prices and consumption. It is not clear in advance whether the tenant heats a lot or uses a lot of water.

The owners’ association Haus und Grund registered in its consultations that the high costs are a concern for landlords: “In our associations, too, there are more and more inquiries about rising energy prices – for example about the question of when advance payments can be adjusted.”

The extent to which higher advance payments have already been agreed is unclear. “The request is at least increasingly being approached by the tenants,” explained tenants’ association spokeswoman Jutta Hartmann. So far there is no knowledge of major conflicts.

Hartmann emphasized: “Landlords are not entitled to demand higher advance payments during the year. The landlord is only entitled to the payment of increased advance payments for ancillary costs after the statement has been submitted.”

Overall, high inflation is actually driving up rents. All apartments with an index rent would now be directly affected. The amount is based on consumer prices. If the last increase was at least a year ago, it could now be more expensive for tenants.

Apartments that are linked to the locally applicable rent index would also be indirectly affected. “In Munich, for example, there will be a new rent index in spring 2023. Inflation could lead to an additional increase here. That cannot be ruled out,” says rental expert Raststätter.

With a graduated rent, the increase is firmly anchored in the contract. An additional price increase that can be traced back to the current inflation wave is not permitted.

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For the tenants’ association, the question arises as to whether a cap is also necessary for indexed leases, explained Lukas Siebenkotten, President of the German Tenants’ Association (DMB). “In our opinion, that would be a sensible way to go.” In standard rental contracts, the rent can currently rise by a maximum of 20 percent in three years, in cities with a housing shortage by 15 percent.

The traffic light coalition wants to reduce this value to eleven percent. According to Siebenkotten, an adjustment in the index rental contracts would mean that the annual increases would be limited to less than four percent – currently that would be less than the inflation rate.