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How does a renters insurance work?

How does a renters insurance work?

Renters insurance - a brief guide

In the United States, tenants have extensive rights that protect them. These provisions are called renters insurance. Many people do not even know how much it can help tenants. Therefore, in this article we clarify the following questions in detail:

What is meant by renters insurance anyway?

When do the rights apply?

What does a renters insurance do for me as a tenant?

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Renters insurance: Strengthens tenants’ backs

Living in a tenancy is a very sensitive area. After all, your “own four walls” are the most private place there is. Therefore, disputes often arise for the following reasons:

  • the move out / the notice of termination
  • the amount of rent
  • damages or mold

Therefore, the tenant protection serves basically to protect this sensitive area and to support the tenant. By law, it is stipulated which rights and obligations tenants and landlords have - however, there are also gray areas.

Areas of application: Where does a renters insurance apply?

There are three areas of application of the Tenancy Act (MRG). This determines which tenant is entitled to which rights. It is best to find out in advance which area the tenancy falls into. The tenant protection rights discussed in this article refer to the full scope of the tenancy law.

Full scope of application

According to the rule of thumb, this includes rental apartments in multi-party buildings built before the end of World War II. Here, the tenancy law provides for both price protection and protection against termination (“protection against termination”).

Partial application

In most cases, this applies to rental apartments in non-subsidized new buildings and in new buildings owned by condominiums. In the partial area of application of the tenancy law, only the protection against termination applies.

Excluded from the MRG

If the tenancy is exempt from the Tenancy Law Act, neither protection against termination nor price protection apply. For example, rent in a single-family house whose contract was concluded after 2001 would count towards this.

Tenant protection and protection against termination: Don’t just get kicked out
Being shown the door by your landlord is a terrible idea. Fortunately, because of the tenant protection in the law, this does not happen easily. In the case of an open-ended tenancy that falls within the full or partial scope of the MRG, protection against termination takes effect. It states that this relationship may only be terminated by court order and for good cause.

Among the reasons are:

  • Neglect of the apartment
  • Criminal behavior towards other tenants or the landlord
  • Non-use of the apartment
  • Personal need of the landlord (here, however, there are very strict rules, compliance with which is checked by the court: e.g. it must be an emergency situation affecting the landlord or his children/grandchildren)
  • rent arrears (here, too, there are strict rules: for example, if the tenant pays the arrears by the end of the first instance court proceedings, the latter must be renegotiated)
    outright subletting
  • death of the tenant and absence of a person who can provide access to the apartment

In addition, other grounds for termination may be agreed in the lease.

Renters insurance and security deposit: Give me back my money!

You have successfully given notice on your apartment, mastered the move and then comes the shock: The landlord does not want to return the deposit. The landlord is moving in a legal gray area here.

First of all, it is important to know that the landlord must accept normal wear and tear of a rented apartment - after all, you also pay to use it.

Examples from case law that show what falls under ordinary wear and tear include: scratches in the bathtub or drilling into tiles to use towel racks in the bathroom.

There are deadlines for certain areas of the apartment, after which they must be replaced anyway. For example, for sinks there is a deadline of 30 years.

Often, disputes over the deposit are about painting. It must be said that the tenant must leave the apartment as it was found. As a rule, there is an obligation to paint only if the walls have been used beyond normal wear and tear or if a color radically deviating from conventional practice has been used (e.g. in the case of dark walls).

If it was expressly agreed in the rental contract that the apartment must be returned painted, the likelihood of a dispute with the landlord increases if this contractual obligation is not met.

By the way: The landlord is not allowed to withhold rent arrears from the deposit.

Tenant protection and mold: When the mushrooms come

Mold is not only disgusting, but also highly harmful to health. If it molds in an apartment, the culprit is often quickly found for the landlord: the tenant. But this is only true if there is a clause in the rental agreement regarding ventilation behavior. Otherwise, the landlord is responsible for removing the mold.

Tenant protection also applies in this case. Because mold in an apartment places a heavy burden on health, a rent reduction of up to 100% can be enforced. Before doing so, however, all damage should be documented in detail by the tenant and professional help should be sought.

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Tenant protection and ancillary costs: Full transparency for tenants

Operating costs, ancillary costs, etc. such as water, sewage or garbage collection are sometimes so high that they seem like a “second rent”.

There are no concrete regulations for how high the ancillary costs may be, as they vary locally. Sometimes they seem incorrect to a tenant. As a tenant, therefore, you have the legal right to an operating cost statement. Tenant protection also gives tenants the right to inspect all receipts on which the statement of operating costs is based.

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