When it comes to cosmetic repairs, there is always trouble about who pays the renovation costs. The Federal Court of Justice recently issued a Solomonic judgment on this. FOCUS-MONEY sheds light on what it means exactly. In addition, further current tenancy law judgments.

If the landlord hands over an unrenovated apartment to the tenant, the landlord and tenant must jointly bear the renovation costs. The judgment of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) always applies if the condition of the apartment has deteriorated significantly during the rental period (Az. VIII ZR 163/18; VIII ZR 270/18).

BGH has an eye on the interests of both parties

Basically: If an apartment is handed over unrenovated, the landlord may not pass the cosmetic repairs on to the tenant. The BGH judges, however, have now passed a Solomonic judgment: If the condition of the apartment deteriorates significantly during the rental period, the landlord must undertake the renovation, but may share the costs with the tenant – in the case of a judgment, half. The reason: Even if the apartment was not renovated when you moved in, it is more shabby after a longer rental period than at the beginning of the tenancy.

Tenants’ Association expresses criticism

Criticism comes from the German Tenants’ Association: If there are no valid clauses on cosmetic repairs, the painting work is always the responsibility of the landlord.

The judgment also brings many difficult questions in practice: When is there a significant deterioration? Which cost sharing by the tenant is appropriate? Can the tenant defend himself against the costs?

On the other hand, the decision can also prevent processes: In the future, tenants will carefully consider whether they should use the landlord to repair the apartment if they have to bear part of the costs themselves.

Further current court rulings on tenancy law as well as new requirements of the Federal Minister of Finance for real estate investors and moving costs follow.

Impact sound: floor covering according to DIN standards

If an apartment owner replaces the floor covering, he has to comply with the “minimum sound insulation requirements” in order not to burden the neighbors with unreasonable footfall noise, the BGH recently decided (Az. V ZR 173/19) .

In the judgment, the owner of the attic replaced a carpet with tiles. The step noises then exceeded the volume that was permissible according to the DIN standard. The plaintiff from the lower apartment demanded that a carpet or an equivalent, sound-absorbing floor covering be laid. Rightly so, so the court. The impact sound must correspond to DIN standards.

Real estate transfer tax for buying a mobile home

If a mobile home on a campsite is sold, real estate transfer tax is due. This applies in any case if the mobile home has a permanent connection to the property and permanent use for holiday purposes is intended. Then the home is to be qualified as a building (Finanzgericht Münster, Az. 8 K 786/19 GrE, F).

Landlords are not allowed to pass on all caretaker costs

Landlords are allowed to pass on caretaker costs to tenants. However, only those expenses can be billed that are part of the typical tasks of the caretaker – such as cleaning the stairwell, operating the central heating, gardening, snow sweeping.

On the other hand, the following are not deductible: Costs for repairs in the house, administrative work or emergency duty (BGH, Az. VIII ZR 62/19).

Distance flat rate: there and back?

Anyone who commutes to their first place of work by car, train, bike or as a passenger can usually charge a flat rate of 0.30 euros per kilometer to the tax office . The tax authorities grant the deduction for a 5-day week for 230 days a year.

However, if the employee does not return home on individual days, he may only apply half the flat rate, the Federal Fiscal Court decided (BFH, Az. VI R 42/17). In the judgment, it was a flight attendant who did not return to his home airport and thus home until the following day for a total of 31 days.

Moving costs: New rules since June 1, 2020

If you move for professional reasons, you can deduct the moving costs as business expenses. However, this only applies if the employer does not reimburse the costs tax-free. In addition to documented transport costs, travel costs, double rent payments and brokerage fees for a rented apartment, the tax authorities also recognize other moving expenses.

For these, there are flat-rate relocation costs, which vary in amount depending on whether the applicant is married or single or whether there are still children in the household.

Since June 1, 2020, new values ​​and rules have been in effect here due to the “Salary Structure Modernization Act ” ( BMF letter of May 20 , 2020 , IV C 5-S 2353/20/10004). After that, the beneficiary – regardless of whether they are married or single – receives 860 euros. Each additional person belonging to the household receives 573 euros (e.g. spouse, partner, children, etc.). However, the maximum amount for extra tuition for the children was reduced to 1146 euros, and flat rates for stoves and ovens were even canceled.

Special depreciation 7b: create living space

In order to create new rental accommodation, investors receive high special depreciation for four years. The BMF has now set the exact key data of the funding requirements of the new Section 7b Income Tax Act (EStG) in a current letter ( BMF letter of July 7, 2020, Az. IV C 3 – S 2197/19/10009: 008).

Anyone who submits a building application (or a building notice) between September 1, 2018 and December 31, 2021 in order to create new living space, or who buys and rents a new property during this period, can take advantage of the increased 7b special depreciation. Builders with existing properties also benefit if, for example, they expand an attic to create new, previously non-existent living spaces.

In order to receive the bonus, the construction costs must not exceed 3000 euros per square meter of living space. If this limit is adhered to, there is the possibility of special depreciation on the assessment basis of a maximum of 2000 euros per square meter of living space. The funding can therefore be really worthwhile.