Can I refuse entry to the landlord?

There is no statutory right to inspect, but a landlord may enter the tenant's apartment if there is a specific and justified reason. Specific reasons can be:

  • to show the apartment to prospective buyers or new tenants
  • to prepare for modernization or maintenance measures
  • to research a cause of damage
  • if there are concrete indications of impending damage
  • for carrying out repairs and checking the craftsman's services in the rented apartment
  • if there is justified suspicion of improper use (e.g .: unauthorized keeping of animals, subletting)
  • for reading the measuring devices
  • to measure the apartment

Viewing clause in the rental agreement

In many form rental agreements there is a clause that allows the landlord to visit the apartment every one or two years without a specific reason in order to convince himself of the proper condition of the living space. The Federal Court of Justice put a stop to this. There is no right to view the rented apartment without cause. A form stipulation that grants the landlord of living space the right to enter the leased property in general "to check the condition of the apartment" is ineffective due to inappropriate discrimination against the tenant (Section 307 (1) sentence 1 BGB) (BGH, 04.06.2013, Az. III ZR 289/13).

How long in advance does the landlord have to announce a viewing?

The landlord must give the tenant notice of a viewing of the apartment in good time, stating the reason. 24 hours can be sufficient if the tenant is not working or urgent manual work is pending. However, the rule is 3 or 4 days and 14 days for those interested in buying or renting. If the landlord would like to bring other people (craftsmen, experts, etc.), these people must be named in the registration.

Exceptions to this are emergencies (e.g. burst water pipe), here the landlord can enter the apartment without registering and have an emergency opening carried out if he cannot reach the tenant. If you are absent for a longer period of time, it is therefore advisable to leave an apartment key with a person you trust and to inform the landlord of this. In this way, in urgent emergencies that cannot be postponed, access to the apartment is guaranteed even without an expensive emergency opening.

At what times of the day can the landlord view the apartment?

The landlord must arrange viewing appointments with the tenant. If the tenant is unable to attend the proposed dates, he can refuse the dates, but must suggest alternative dates.

As a rule, viewing appointments can be made on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. As an exception, a later appointment can also take place.

In the case of prospective buyers, the working tenant must tolerate viewing appointments three times a month on weekdays between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., each lasting 30 to 45 minutes (LG Frankfurt am Main, NZM 2002, 696).

The landlord's right to view the property can easily be agreed and extended using a form contract. However, clauses according to which the landlord has the right to view at any time are void (see above).

Can the landlord take photos of the apartment?

For example, if the landlord would like to take photographs for the Internet advertisement, he must ask the tenant in advance! If the tenant says no, no photos may be taken. Because this disproportionately affects the privacy of the tenant (AG Steinfurt, judgment of April 10, 2014, Az. 21 C 987/13).

The tenant won't let the landlord into the apartment?

Regardless of whether you are a tradesman or a prospective tenant, it is annoying when the tenant refuses entry. The landlord is in the right and the tenant is in breach of contract, but landlords should keep calm and not call the locksmith or use an emergency key that may be available. The courts have strict standards and landlords can trespass quickly. A landlord may only pick up the emergency key or have the door opened by the locksmith if the tenant cannot be reached if it is an actual emergency.

Complain for tolerance?

In an emergency, a landlord can only go to court if the tenant refuses entry. But the road is long, the normal legal process usually takes 3–6 months.

Especially with a tenant who has, for example, given notice and refuses any viewing appointment, so a hopeless undertaking. That costs time and money, even if the tenant is the loser in the end and therefore also has to pay the costs of the legal dispute and the damage caused.

Interim disposal?

Alternatively, an application for a temporary injunction can be submitted in order to find your way into the tenant apartment. But, this judicial fast-track procedure requires a high level of urgency. This is certainly not the case if, as before, the tenant refuses to let prospective buyers or renters into the apartment.

Cancel because the tenant refuses to view the property?

Landlords only have good cards here if they have sued the tenant for tolerance and he does not allow them into the apartment despite a final judgment. Because of the lack of urgency, landlords are usually referred to normal legal action, after all, from the point of view of the courts, they are “only” threatened with financial loss if, for example, a follow-up rental is not immediately possible.

Our suggestion to landlords

If a tenant refuses you or other people access to the apartment despite a legitimate interest, explain to him that he has to compensate for any damage that has been proven and ask him again, setting a deadline, for a viewing appointment. Writing from a lawyer can also work wonders here.

Sample letter inspection of the apartment

Dear tenants,

Since the windows no longer correspond to the state of the art, I have not decided to have new windows installed.

For this reason, I would like to visit the apartment rented to you on [date] at [time] with an employee of the company XYZ. If a visit is not possible on the date mentioned above, I suggest the [date] at [time] or the [date] at [time] as alternative dates. Alternatively, I would ask you to suggest an appointment of your own.

If you are unable to attend personally, I would like to ask you to name a person you trust me with whom you can deposit the apartment key. Of course, your trusted person can accompany us to view the rooms.

With best regards