Tenancy law – trespass by your landlord

Many landlords are worried about their property and don’t trust their tenants. They have heard too many horror stories of filthy apartments, sick pets or messies and therefore want to take a look at your property regularly. However, these cases are definitely the exception to the rule, as most tenants treat the rental property with care and maintain it properly. So, is it permissible for the landlord to regularly disturb the privacy of his tenant?

Trespassing – when is the landlord allowed in the rental property and when is he not?

Tenancy law sees no reason whatsoever for the landlord to have a general right of control over his property. On the contrary, the landlord surrenders his domiciliary rights to the tenant when he lets the property. This means that the tenant then has the right to decide who he lets into the rented property and who not. This also includes the landlord, who can be prevented by his tenant from entering the rented property. But what exactly are the rules, what does the law require, and can the landlord be trespassing in his own property?

Apartment inspection by the landlord – only possible with concrete reason

In some cases, however, it is necessary for the landlord to enter the rented property. With notice and a separate reason, the landlord also has the right to do so. Such cases include, for example, the reading of the heating cost allocator or the water meters. However, the landlord may also enter the property for maintenance work or repairs. For the landlord, however, these cases are usually in his own interest, since the rental property is maintained by these. But also other reasons are permissible for a visit of the landlord. For example, if the landlord suspects that the tenant is using the rented property in breach of contract, he can enter the rented property with an announced visit. However, the tenant must still consent to the entry. An example of this could be keeping pets that are not allowed or subletting to third parties without permission. Here, however, caution to landlords. Such a visit is only legal with notice and the tenant’s consent. The use of the key to the rental property without prior permission is inadmissible.

Trespass by the landlord – entering the rented property without permission

Entering the rental object without notice and permission of the tenant, for example by means of a duplicate key, is inadmissible. Such conduct by the landlord entitles the tenant to terminate the rental property without notice. This also applies if the landlord has entered the property with good intentions, for example to carry out repairs. Trespassing on the rental property can also give the tenant notice, but whether this step is very smart depends on the situation. Without specific cause and notice, the landlord has no right to enter the rental property. However, in urgent cases, such as an emergency repair, or for factual reasons, such as handyman work, the tenant cannot deny the landlord access. One option landlords have is to put a clause in the lease that entitles them to make a routine inspection visit every one to two years. By signing the lease, the tenant grants the landlord permission to enter the apartment for such visits, but they must be announced. However, if you find a clause in your rental agreement that entitles the landlord to enter the rented property generally and without restriction. This is not legally binding and cannot be enforced in this way. So pay close attention to the wording in your rental agreement and point out any possible faulty clauses to your landlord before signing. If the landlord nevertheless enters the rented property without permission, for example with a duplicate key, he is committing trespass in his own property and can be reported to the police by the tenant for this.

Next tenant wanted – apartment viewings and pictures in the still inhabited property

Even after a termination, whether by the tenant or the landlord, the tenant has the right to still live in the apartment and prepare everything for the move. Within the normally three months notice period, in which the tenant still lives in the property, the same rules for visits apply as before. Especially during this period, the landlord is already looking for new tenants and viewing appointments are scheduled. However, there are special rules here as to when the landlord may and may not enter the rental property. The tenants do not have to accept any viewing tourism during the time they are still living in the property. Especially in desirable neighborhoods, new tenants often line up for the opportunity to view a new rental property. The rule here is that one to two viewing appointments are acceptable to the tenant. However, these must be announced three to four days in advance and approved by the tenant. The landlord must work around the tenant’s schedule for the appointment and accommodate individual work schedules, etc. Generally, inconvenience to the tenant should be kept to a minimum as they are still paying the full rent and the tenancy is still in place. However, pictures of the furnished property are not permitted by either the landlord or the viewing guests. The tenant must give express permission for pictures to be taken, otherwise the landlord must wait until the tenant has moved out before taking pictures. If he nevertheless takes pictures of the property without permission, he violates the personal rights of the tenant, even if he is the owner of the property.

Tenancy dispute – Show trespass

In order to report a trespass, it needs some legal basics. The exact legal situation states according to § 123 of the penal code:

Any person who unlawfully enters the dwelling, business premises or enclosed property of another or any enclosed premises intended for public service or traffic, or who, while remaining therein without authority, fails to leave when requested to do so by the person entitled thereto, shall be liable to a custodial sentence not exceeding one year or to a monetary penalty.

To enforce this law, the tenant must file a criminal complaint or trespass charge against the landlord within a period of 3 months after becoming aware of the offense. After this time limit has expired, an offence of trespass will usually not be prosecuted. However, only a lawyer can provide more detailed information and legal knowledge in tenancy law. Whether this step is really sensible or whether it is sufficient, as a tenant with the landlord simply to speak out is situation-dependent differently. In such a case, it is better to consult a specialist in advance to cover all eventualities.