After moving out of the previous apartment, the landlord wants to deduct from the deposit 1400 for painting and 700 for Mietausfall. The apartment is 3 rooms, 70 square meters, the rent was 1400 per month. The walls were really messed up pretty badly by the kids, but can it really take half a month and cost that much. Please advise how adequate these figures are and is there any way to dispute them?

  • Doesn't seem outrageous or worth fighting over in court. One idea to save money is to do the work yourself. Not completely sure it's an expat question though.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 13:39
  • Hi, Relaxed. I posted here as I believe this forum is about living in different countries, in this case Germany, for English-speaking people. So, I definitely couldn't post it anywhere in German forums. Hope it's OK to have this question here.
    – Boris
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 13:56
  • 3
    This depends on the conditions of your contract. Does it require you to renovate before leaving? If yes, was it a renovated condition when you moved in? If both answers are yes and they had to renovate it after you left, then it would be difficult to avoid compensating them for their renovation costs and lost rent. Renovierung der Mietwohnung | Mietrecht 2021 Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 14:20
  • 2
    @Jan That what the question states, they are deducuting from the deposit the two weeks after the person left until they could re-rent (after the painting) plus the costs of the repainting. Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 18:09
  • 2
    Well, it very much depends on the contract and the time you cancelled it. The market price for painting 70qm could be around 1000 Euro, because the landlord will not paint it himself, but hire a company. If you paint yourself, you only pay for materials, ~200 Euro. The company will not do it 2 weeks long, of course (it takes 1-2 days to paint a flat), but they can arrange an appointment for painting only 3-4 weeks later, and the landlord will need to wait for it. If you returned walls really messed up, both price (a bit high, but depends on conditions of walls) and timing seem adequate. Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 10:29

2 Answers 2


While Mark did a good job at summarising everything relevant concerning the painting cost (€1400 – which you will definitely have to pay unless you somehow manage to prove that that be way above market value, which I doubt), I disagree with his conclusion concerning the loss of rent – based on his own reference.

First, I would like to point out that the landlord cannot claim loss of rent according to § 546a (1). For this paragraph to apply, it would be necessary that you are still occupying the previously rented apartment in some way or another. I assume that:

  • none of your stuff remains in the apartment; and
  • you have returned your keys and the landlord signed the Abnahmeprotokoll.

This means that you are in no way occupying the apartment which is a requirement for § 546a (1) to apply. I quote (and translate) the relevant passage from the OLG Düsseldorf’s decision in a partially similar case as summarised by Rechtsportal.de:

[Ein Entschädigungsanspruch nach § 546a Abs. 1 BGB] setzt voraus, dass der Mieter dem Eigentümer die gemietete Sache im Sinne dieser Vorschrift vorenthalten hat. Hierzu reicht es nicht aus, dass er durch die Ausführung der Reparaturen noch den Mitbesitz an den Räumlichkeiten inne hat. Vielmehr müsste der Mieter diesen entgegen dem Willen des Vermieters ausüben. Hiervon kann nur dann ausgegangen, wenn der Vermieter ihn zur Herausgabe der Mietsache aufgefordert und der Mieter sich geweigert hat, dieser Aufforderung unverzüglich nachzukommen.

[A compensation according to § 546a sec. 1 BGB] requires the lessee to have prevented the lessor access to the leased object in the sense of this rule. In this sense, it is not sufficient that he [the lessee] remains partially in possession of the object to perform the repairs. Rather, the lessee would have to exert possession against the will of the landlord. This can only be assumed if the lessor has requested him to relinquish possession but the lessee has refused to acquiesce immediately.

(In the court case, the lessee and the landlord agreed that the lessee would perform the required renovation work (mostly painting). The painting work took the lessee 7 months for which the landlord afterwards tried claiming compensation due to loss of rent.)

This quote, I believe, applies perfectly to your situation: as you have returned the property back to the landlord (keys and all) you currently have no possession of the object and thus § 546a (1) cannot apply.

The summary considers a couple of other paragraphs of the BGB that were again deemed not to apply to this case as – once again – it had been returned. It (and the court) then continued to examine whether compensation may be permitted according to the §§ 280, 281, 286 and 252 BGB. I will refrain from citing the individual codes and instead again only quote and translate the summarised court decision:

[Für einen Anspruch auf Ersatz des Mietausfallschadens nach §§ 280, 281, 286 und 252 BGB] muss der Mieter sich erst einmal pflichtwidrig verhalten haben. Diese Voraussetzung liegt im zugrundeliegenden Fall vor, weil die Mietsache sich bei Beendigung des Mietverhältnisses in keinem ordnungsgemäßen Zustand befand.
Ferner muss allerdings der Vermieter nachweisen, dass der vertragswidrige Zustand dazu geführt hat, dass er die Räumlichkeiten über den Zeitraum von sieben Monate nicht weitervermieten konnte. Die dafür notwendige Ursächlichkeit zwischen Fehlverhalten und Schaden entfällt normalerweise, wenn der Vermieter sich nicht um eine Weitervermietung bemüht hat. Der Vermieter muss seine Anstrengungen darlegen. Außerdem muss er aufzeigen, dass die Weitervermietung an dem vertragwidrigen Zustand gescheitert ist. Beides ist im vorliegenden Fall nicht geschehen. Aus diesem Grunde verneinte das OLG Düsseldorf auch einen Anspruch des Vermieters auf Ersatz des Mietausfallschadens und wies die Klage ab.

[For the lessor to be entitled for damages in accordance with § 280, 281, 286 and 252 BGB] the lessee first has to have acted contrary to his obligations. This requirement applies to the case at hand as the object was not in proper condition at the end of the rental period.
Furthermore, however, the landlord must show that it was the improper condition that caused him not to be able to rent out the property during these seven months. The necessary causality between misconduct and damage usually does not apply if the landlord did not attempt to re-rent out the property. The landlord is required to document his efforts. Furthermore, he has to show that a new rental agreement failed due to the improper condition of the property. Neither has been demonstrated in the case at hand. For this reason, the OLG Düsseldorf denied the landlord’s claims for damages due to loss of rent and threw out the case.

Translated to your specific case, I interpret this to mean the following: unless the landlord can show that

  • they tried to rent out the apartment again in due course; and
  • this failed precisely due to the condition of the walls,

they cannot claim compensation due to loss of rent.

The summary concludes with a couple of reminders to landlords (or for their legal counsel to remind the landlords): it is absolutely necessary to attempt to rent out the object in a timely manner and to document one’s efforts. Furthermore, the landlord should get a written confirmation from potential new lessees that they did not sign the contract explicitly due to a lack of interest after seeing its poor condition.

It seems to me that you have a very good chance at disputing the €700 part of your landlord’s request.

Standard disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Professional legal counsel may be very helpful.

Note: as the German originals consistently use er, sein, ihm, ihn – i.e. male pronouns – when referring to the landlord or the lessee I have done so in my translations to remain true to the original.


This depends on the conditions of your contract.

  • Does it require you to renovate before leaving?
  • If yes, was it a renovated condition when you moved in?

If both answers are yes and they had to renovate it after you left, then it would be difficult to avoid compensating them for their renovation costs and lost rent.

See Section 546a(1) Compensation of the lessor in the case of late return of the German Civil Code BGB below.

Summary from comments:

OK, I have just checked out the contract. The renovation is not mentioned there. The only sentence about this subject is the following: "At the end of the tenancy, the premises must be cleaned and handed over in good condition to the Landlord." Neither "Schönheitsreparaturen" nor "Kleinreparaturklausel" is mentioned. Does it mean I am not responsible for wall painting and therefore for loss of rent?

Yes, unless The walls were really messed up pretty badly by the kids is not considered to be 'be cleaned and handed over in good condition to the Landlord'.

There is a following sentence in "abnahmeprotokoll" about the walls: "wande in der ganze wohnung stark verschmutzt, neu anstrich notig"

Well, with 'Walls in the whole apartment very dirty, repainting necessary' and if the painting was (or could only be) done after your rent period ended, I don't see how you can avoid paying for their lost rent.

This will be especially true if you co-signed the acceptance report (Abnahmeprotokoll).

From Renovierung der Mietwohnung | Mietrecht 2021:

Wann besteht Renovierungspflicht für den Mieter?
Das Bürgerliche Gesetzbuch § 535 Abs. 1 bestimmt, dass die Renovierungspflicht beim Vermieter liegt. Es handelt sich hierbei aber um abdingbares Recht. Dies bedeutet, dass von den gesetzlichen Bestimmungen durch eine vertragliche Vereinbarung abgewichen werden kann.

When is the tenant obliged to renovate?
The Civil Code § 535 Paragraph 1 stipulates that the landlord is responsible for the renovation. However, this is an indispensable right. This means that it is possible to deviate from the statutory provisions by means of a contractual agreement.

Somit besteht die Möglichkeit, im Mietvertrag festzulegen, dass der Mieter für die Schönheitsreparaturen zuständig ist. Dabei wird meistens bestimmt, dass die Renovierung entweder beim Umzug oder nach Ablauf einer bestimmten Frist durchgeführt werden muss.

It is therefore possible to specify in the lease that the tenant is responsible for the cosmetic repairs. It is usually determined that the renovation must be carried out either when moving or after the expiry of a certain period.

Renovierung durch den Mieter: Wann ist die Mietvertragsklausel unwirksam?
Prinzipiell ist es legitim, die Pflicht zur Renovierung auf den Mieter zu übertragen. Allerdings kann die Klausel im Mietvertrag unter bestimmten Voraussetzungen auch ungültig sein und den Mieter somit von dieser Pflicht entbinden:

Renovation by the tenant: When is the rental contract clause ineffective?
In principle, it is legitimate to transfer the obligation to renovate to the tenant. However, under certain conditions, the clause in the rental agreement can also be invalid and thus release the tenant from this obligation:


  • Endrenovierung bei Auszug: Besonders häufig wird Mietern auferlegt, dass sie mit dem Ende ihrer Miete auch eine Renovierung der Wohnung vorzunehmen haben. Doch auch hier gilt, dass die Schönheitsreparaturen nur durchgeführt werden müssen, wenn tatsächlich Bedarf besteht.
  • Final renovation when moving out: Tenants are particularly often required to renovate the apartment at the end of their rent. But here too, cosmetic repairs only have to be carried out when there is actually a need.
  • Einzug in unrenovierte Wohnung: Wurde dem Mieter die Mietwohnung bereits nicht-renoviert übergeben, kann die Renovierungsklausel im Mietvertrag ebenfalls ungültig sein. Dies gilt besonders bei kurzer Mietdauer, denn ein Mieter kann nicht verpflichtet werden, die Wohnung in besserem Zustand zurückzugeben, als er sie übernommen hat.
  • Moving into an unrenovated apartment: If the rented apartment has already been handed over to the tenant without being renovated, the renovation clause in the rental contract may also be invalid. This is especially true for short leases, because a tenant cannot be obliged to return the apartment in a better condition than when he took it over.



  • It would be great if you could also find and add a source that validates the loss of rent claim.
    – Jan
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 7:33
  • @Jan Added quote of § 546a(1) BGB to the answer. Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 10:53
  • Thanks. You might want to re-read your Rechtsportal link because (1) it states that § 546a(1) BGB does not apply (and it does not in OP’s case: they vacated and returned the flat by the due date) and that the other paragraphs (§§ 280, 281, 286 and 252 BGB) likely do not apply unless the landlord can show that they tried renting out the flat but it failed due to the condition of the walls. In addition, it’s worth noting that in the court case cited the renovations took 7 months (the lessee performed them as agreed upon) whereas in OP’s case it’s the landlord doing it in two weeks.
    – Jan
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 11:46
  • @Jan, Yes, that is the case in that ruling because the situation was different than that of the OP. But it does quote the relevent paragraph for the loss of rent claim (that applies to the OP) - which is what you were asking. Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 16:35

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