Heirs of a lease

A tenancy does not automatically end with the death of a tenant. The lease is inherited

If a lone tenant dies, he also passes on his lease. The heirs then enter the lease with all rights and obligations. This requires no change or renewal of the lease. The obligation to pay the rent or to vacate and renovate the dwelling can only be avoided by repudiation of the inheritance.

If the heirs do not want to use the apartment, they must cancel this in writing, with a notice period of three months. Important: If there are several heirs, all must sign the notice, otherwise it can be rejected for formal reasons and the rent must continue to be paid. This special right of termination after the death of a tenant also applies to temporary leases or when a cancellation exclusion has been agreed. However, notice of termination must be given no later than one month after becoming aware of the death and non-entry into the contract by the heir. If this period is missed, it can happen that the heir is tied to the tenancy for a limited lease for years.

Conversely, however, the landlord can terminate the heirs within a month after knowledge of the death of the tenant with a notice period of three months. Since the tenancy law reform of 2001, he needs no legitimate interest. The primary claim is made by life partners.

And what if there is no heir? In this case, the landlord has the disadvantage. He must do housing dissolution and beauty repairs at his own expense, but may use the deposit as well as usable from the apartment.

Completely different is the situation when the deceased did not live alone. As a general rule, spouses or life partners who have had a joint household with the deceased can generally not be deprived of the dwelling. Neither the landlord nor the heir can complement them from the apartment – regardless of whether they have signed the lease or not. Life partners – including same-sex – have the same rights as spouses. If both partners were officially tenants, the tenancy is simply continued with the survivor anyway. Otherwise, the partner or family members – unless they inform the landlord within one month otherwise – automatically enter into the tenancy. If the surviving spouse does not wish to continue the tenancy, adult children or other family members who previously lived in the dwelling can enter the tenancy agreement. It is true that the law gives the landlord the possibility to terminate the entrant – for example, if there is an “important reason”, for example insolvency or personal reservations. But in practice, this hardly matters, especially since the landlord in addition a legitimate interest, so for example domestic needs, must bring forward.

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