Notice of termination for own use: what rights does the landlord have??

Every landlord has the right to terminate a lease for personal use, but you must observe various formalities in this regard. Only then is the termination effective. The notice of own need is regulated in the BGB: According to § 573, you can declare your own need in case of legitimate interest and terminate the tenant, if you give your reasons.

When is there justified interest?

As a landlord, you have a legitimate interest in the tenant moving out if you yourself, a family member or a person belonging to your household needs the apartment. This includes

  • parents
  • grandparents
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Stepchildren
  • Parents-in-law
  • Nieces
  • Nephews
  • Cousins
  • Brother-in-law
  • Children of non-marital partners
  • Household or care staff

Termination of own use: These reasons are possible

Notice of own need: What rights does the landlord have?

It is not sufficient if you only mention own need in the notice of termination. You must justify why you (or your relatives) have this need. This is often accompanied by a change in living circumstances, such as

  • for a shortening of the way to work
  • after a divorce
  • after a death
  • because of an illness
  • after a return from abroad
  • for the care of a relative

Explain these reasons in a comprehensible way – otherwise your notice of owner-occupied property will probably be invalid. By the way, it is not a sufficient reason that you can sell the apartment more profitably without tenants.

Deadlines also apply to the notice of own use

The normal notice period, which you as a landlord must take into account for every notice of termination, also applies to the notice of own need. That is, it is three months if the tenant has lived in the property for less than five years. If he has lived there between five and eight years, the period increases to six months. If you have lived in the apartment for more than eight years, the notice period is nine months.

Complications with the termination of own use in case of hardship

If your tenant lodges an objection to the notice of termination of owner occupancy, the proceedings will be protracted. This can happen if it is a so-called case of hardship. This occurs, for example, if your tenant is very old or seriously ill, and if his condition would worsen by moving. Since this must be proven, such cases often end up in court, which calls in experts. Heavily pregnant women may also file an objection. Therefore, it is advisable that you find out about your tenant's current situation before giving notice of termination. Finally, it may be that you yourself meet all the requirements for the notice of own use, but your tenants do not.

Caution with the notice of own need after change of owner!

If you buy an apartment in an apartment building that is currently rented, you may not immediately throw the tenant out the door because of own need: In this case, there is a lock-up period for the notice of own need. Normally, this is three years, although – depending on the federal state – it can also rise to ten years. If you would like to move into your new apartment yourself, you should carefully inquire about the conditions beforehand, otherwise you may be in for a nasty surprise.

Notice of own need: Pattern is complicated

Because of the individual reasons for a notice of termination of own use, a sample can only give hints. Nevertheless, you can find some assistance on various portals. In principle, you should state certain things in any case in your written notice of own need:

  • your name and address
  • the names and addresses of your tenants
  • the exact designation of the rented property including the floor
  • the notice of termination due to own need
  • the explanation for whom you need the apartment
  • the date from which you need the apartment
  • the exact reason for which you (or the persons who are to move in) need the apartment
  • pointing out the right of objection that tenants have: They can file their objection in writing up to two months before the date of termination and give reasons for it

If you have another apartment that you can offer your current tenants as an alternative, you must also mention this here. You also specify the conditions for renting the other apartment. Also explain conclusively why the other apartment is not suitable for your own needs.

If the person who is to move into your apartment is not a close relative, you should also explain the circumstances that connect you. This can be, for example, the need to have a caregiver nearby.

You should also take note of the following when giving notice of termination for own use

The personal need, for which you want to terminate the tenancy, should already exist at the time of termination or at least occur in the period until moving out. It is not sufficient that you suspect that you will soon have an own need. Accordingly, you should in no case feign a personal need that does not exist: In this case, the tenant could sue you for damages after moving out because of the moving costs or any higher rental costs.

If you already know at the time of signing the rental agreement that the tenant will need the apartment for his or her own use, you must communicate this information accordingly. This only does not apply if you only suspect that it could come to this one day. However, if you know, for example, that your child will be working abroad for three years and would like to move into the apartment afterwards, you must inform the tenants of this fact when you sign the contract. If you fail to do this, the subsequent notice of own need will not be effective.

A conversation often helps

If your tenants do not know about your own needs, the notice of termination will catch them cold. In such cases, it is easier for an objection to be filed. It is better to talk to your tenants in advance and inform them that they will need their own apartment in the near future. You can explain your situation to them. Often the tenants then show understanding. Because it is also easier for them if they know what they have to adjust to.

What to do if the tenants do not move out despite a claim of own need?

In some cases, tenants pretend that they have not received the notice of termination of the lease agreement. You can prevent this by sending the notice of owner-occupied use by registered mail. It is even safer to hand it over in person – preferably in the presence of a witness. The tenant can still file an objection. If this is rejected and the tenant still refuses to move out of the apartment, your only option is to sue for eviction. Although this is often successful for landlords, the process can be considerably protracted: It often takes six to twelve months before you can use the apartment for yourself.

Conclusion: With care to a valid notice of own need

Since tenancy law protects the tenant in many respects, you have to comply with a whole range of requirements when giving notice of your own needs. However, if you fulfill all the formalities mentioned above, there is usually nothing to prevent you from using your own apartment. In many cases, however, you can save yourself trouble by familiarizing yourself with your tenants' situation and ensuring that it is not a case of hardship. It's also helpful to have a face-to-face conversation with tenants to prepare them for termination. Inform them politely and transparently, they are usually less likely to give you trouble.

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