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In this way, tenants and landlords avoid expensive mold processes

It's just announcements.

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In this way, tenants and landlords avoid expensive mold processes

It's just announcements. Things should get serious in the fall. Because then many housing companies want to reduce the heating temperatures in rented apartments in response to the dramatically increased gas prices. This was announced by the Vonovia housing group, for example, but also by numerous municipal housing providers.

What side effects occur when rented apartments can no longer be heated above 18 degrees is currently the great unknown in the nationwide savings project. Trade associations and experts are now warning that the heating throttling could not only be a source of mold, but also of increased disputes between tenants and landlords.

The Federal Environment Agency has already announced that reducing the room temperature to below 19 degrees during the day and below 18 degrees at night would "significantly" increase the risk of mold. The Federal Association for Mold Remediation is now warning of other possible consequences of the planned energy-saving measures. "I assume that due to the drop in temperature, we will see more mold, especially in corner areas of apartments. Disputes with landlords will therefore increase," says Wolfgang Lorenz, deputy chairman of the association.

And not only the mold is likely to cloud the relationship between tenants and landlords from autumn. Because landlords still have no legal recourse to arbitrarily lower the heating temperature at all. If the federal government does not pass a corresponding law, the cooler temperatures could lead to a wave of lawsuits from angry tenants against housing companies that regulate the temperatures.

Elmar Streyl, presiding judge at the Krefeld district court, knows how exhausting and costly the dispute over mold in the home is. The lawyer regularly has to deal with cases in which the dispute over mold ends up in court. "The point of contention is always the same. Tenants affected by mold accuse the landlord that the structural condition of the apartment is not tidy. And landlords claim that tenants heat and ventilate too little,” says Streyl.

Even if causation differs from case to case, according to Judge Streyl, one thing is always the same: "There are hardly any other rental disputes that cost as much as litigation because of mold. The required reports cost at least 2,000 euros, often twice as much or even more. In addition, there are legal and court costs,” says Streyl. Whoever loses the process has to bear the costs in the end.

Mold cases would also become more complicated from autumn due to the uncertain legal situation. "Since there is still no legal basis for landlords to lower heating temperatures, we are entering new legal territory if a landlord acts on his own initiative. The legal situation is very uncertain, perhaps tenants and landlords should have to share the risks in some way," says Streyl. The judge hopes that there will be legal requirements and that they will be specific enough so that disputes can be clearly decided. Otherwise one would have to wait for a judgment of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in order to have a clear decision on different legal opinions. "However, it will be years before there is a corresponding BGH ruling," says Streyl.

According to the German Tenants' Association, "moisture damage with or without mold growth" is already one of the most common housing defects. In view of the increasing potential for conflict, Lorenz from the Federal Association for Mold Remediation urgently advises defusing possible disputes in advance. "House management companies should name contact persons for problems with mold that tenants can turn to," says Lorenz.

According to the mold expert, raising tenant awareness is also crucial. "Simple measures are often enough to produce less moisture and thus reduce the risk of mould," says Lorenz. Once the mold has developed, it could also become difficult to have it removed quickly and professionally due to the labor market situation. "The bottleneck among craftsmen also affects the mold remediation industry, of course," says Lorenz.

When it comes to saving gas, private households in particular are now in demand. Economics Minister Robert Habeck is not the only one who sees great potential here. The FDP warns that not only the gas but also the electricity supply could pose a problem in winter.

Source: WELT/ Leonie von Randow

The landlord association, on the other hand, does not want to see “any increased disputes” because of the announced temperature cuts. A slight throttling seems harmless to the landlords' association for houses and tenants. However, depending on the energetic equipment, both tenants and landlords would have to take appropriate countermeasures in the event of mold damage.

Zoff threatens tenancies in addition to the mold through the lowering of the heating. The German Tenants' Association has already spoken out against a legal throttling below the currently applicable minimum temperatures. "Because the building stock is too heterogeneous for that and people's heat needs and perceptions of heat are too different," says the tenants' association.

The Association of Berlin-Brandenburg Housing Companies (BBU) takes a diametrically different view on behalf of its member companies such as Vonovia and municipal landlords. "It must be possible to lower the temperature to 18 degrees in a legally secure manner," says the association.

Experts expect that the federal government will enact a corresponding law on heating throttling by autumn. What could stand in the way of this is the fear that many tenants who do not want to accept the cooler temperatures could increasingly use electrical appliances for heating. This would, however, threaten to overload the power grid. In addition, consideration must be given to older people, for whom colder rooms could pose greater health risks.

Judge Streyl cannot yet say whether the legal disputes will really increase from the fall. In any case, he has a clear recommendation for tenants and landlords in the event of mold disputes. "The most efficient and cheapest way is for tenants and landlords to get together and quickly clarify the cause with a specialist," says Streyl. A simple means is also to set up so-called hygrometers, which measure the humidity. Together with a thermometer, tenants have a clear indicator of whether they are ventilating and heating sufficiently.

However, Judge Streyl also knows that his advice on an out-of-court settlement is not often accepted. "Most of the time, the fronts between the parties are just too hardened," says Streyl.

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