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Not sure if this is specifically counts as an expatriate question, but I am an expat (non-EU) who recently moved to Germany.

I have signed an unlimited rental contract with a management office for an apartment in Frankfurt am Main. In the contract, the monthly value was given like this:

rental price

I found it weird that the final price was not 960+95 EUR, but when I asked the agent said that 970 was correct. The reason my friend and I signed the contract was because it was within our budgets (less than 1000 EUR), but now the management is claiming an error and that I should pay the extra 85 EUR.

Now, since the contract is binding, is it within my rights to refuse this increase? If this 1055 EUR was the value in the contract, we would not have signed it (we had other offers).

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    I don't know if you have a leg to stand on but note that the way you frame this is a little self-serving. The number is not coming out of nowhere, the rent has not been increased and it's not a matter of the contract being binding or not. Rather, the question is what is the most reasonable interpretation of this self-contradictory contract and who should benefit from it.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 9 at 17:28
  • I posted an answer regarding an important additional caveat.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 9 at 17:34
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    I would also say there might be a very small chance to use some sentences from the contract to reduce the price, however, usually it is not possible. See frag-einen-anwalt.de/… for reference. Feb 9 at 17:59
  • Note that the “rent” is technically €960. This could be a simple case of miscommunication or even the agent deliberately failing to dispell the confusion and using this to convince you to sign without ever lying about anything.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 9 at 18:01

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It may not matter at all, the €95 are only a provision on additional charges that will be determined after the fact (typically each calendar year). If you pay less now, you can expect your landlord to ask for the difference at the end of the year. Even if you pay €1055, there is no guarantee you won't have to pay a surcharge (and a sneaky landlord can lowball this and hit you later with the difference).

Technically the rent is still €960 and such an adjustment wouldn't constitute a rent increase or breach of contract. That's the plain meaning of Vorauszahlung für Betriebskosten and completely legal. I would however expect the landlord to be able to produce invoices for these costs. I don't remember this ever happening to me in Germany but in other countries with a similar system, I have occasionally received money back too.

Finally, there is also a statistical reference (Betriebskostenspiegel) that will further weaken your case. Currently, the average is over €2 per square meter per month. The actual costs will depend a bit on the specifics of your apartment, the building, and the area but €10 per month seems unreasonably low.

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