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An inadmissible requirement to carry out decorative repairs (sanding down the parquet floor) can void an entire provision

In many rental agreements the tenants are required to carry out decorative repairs. A local court in Nuremberg, in its ruling from 18.1.2019, decided that it was inadmissible to pass on to the tenant the responsibility for maintenance repairs that go beyond the scope of minor and decorative repairs. If these are nevertheless contractually required then the entire provision would be void and the tenant would not have to carry out any decorative repairs whatsoever.

In the case in question, a landlord had only refunded part of the security deposit that had been paid by his former tenants. He argued that the former tenants had not fulfilled their obligation to carry out various decorative repairs to the rental property. Namely, in the respective rental agreement, there was a provision according to which the tenants had to undertake decorative repairs. According to the wording of the provision, this included sanding down the parquet floor.

However, the local court in Nuremberg was of the view (case reference: 29 C 6568/18) that the tenants had not been under any obligation to carry out decorative repairs because the contractual provision was deemed to be an unreasonable disadvantage and was thus invalid. Namely, sanding down a parquet floor does not constitute a decorative repair. In the rental contract, landlords may pass on their basic property maintenance and repair obligation to a tenant, by way of a form, only with respect to minor and decorative repairs. That is why, in this case, inadmissibly passing on the responsibility of the maintenance of the parquet floor led to the voiding of the entire provision. As a result, the tenants did not have to paint the flat nor bear the costs of this and were therefore entitled to a full refund of their security deposit.

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