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Who has the internal maintenance obligation? Do you have it as a tenant or do your landlords have it?

Here is a quick guide to clear up any confusion.

For starters, it is important to distinguish between ’internal maintenance’ and ’external maintenance’.

What is internal maintenance? Many people tend to think that internal maintenance means maintaining everything within the four walls of the lease. However, this is not entirely correct.

Internal maintenance only covers whitewashing or painting the ceiling and the walls, wallpapering and varnishing or painting floors in the lease.

In article §8 of the lease agreement, the landlords must clearly state whether it is you as a tenant or the landlords who have the internal maintenance obligation.


If you have the internal maintenance obligation:

In many private leases, the tenant typically has the internal maintenance obligation.

If internal maintenance is indeed your responsibility, it will always be up to you to decide which craftsperson you wish to use, as long as all work is carried out in a correct manner by professionally qualified craftspeople.

Let's say you've lived in your lease for ten years and the paint on the floor is wearing thin. So who has the maintenance obligation? In this case, repainting the floor will be incumbent upon you.


If your landlord has the internal maintenance obligation:

In case your landlord has the internal maintenance obligation, there will also be a maintenance account.

*  In practice, it works like this: Your landlord collects a specific amount each month as part of your rent, and this amount will be deposited in the maintenance account.

*   When your landlord has the internal maintenance obligation, it will also be your him or her  who gets to decide how a certain maintenance task is to be carried out. Therefore, it will be up to your landlord  to decide if he will allow you to do it yourself – or if a specific craftsperson should be put in charge of it.

*  Make sure you always get a landlord’s written consent before starting any maintenance work  – otherwise you may end up having to pay a chosen craftsperson to do the job instead.

*  Let’s say you’ve lived in your lease for ten years and now, the paint on the floor is wearing thin. So who has the maintenance obligation? In this case, you should contact your landlord and let him know that you wish to draw money from the maintenance account to fix your floors.

*  REMEMBER: you cannot use the money in the internal maintenance account after you terminated your lease. You therefore must apply for using specific amounts from the maintenance account before terminating the lease.


What is external maintenance?

External maintenance is defined as everything that is not internal maintenance. For instance, this would include the windows, the toilets, the taps, the kitchen worktops, etc.

To find out if you as a tenant have any of the external maintenance obligations, it is important to read the specifics in section §11 of the lease agreement. However, if certain conditions are met, the landlords are not entitled to make the tenant partly responsible for external maintenance obligations.

If you live in a building with more than six tenancies, the landlord is not at liberty to impose external maintenance obligations on the tenant.  

If, on the other hand, you rent a private lease from a private person, your landlord may well state in section §11 of the lease agreement that the tenant – for example – is responsible for maintaining windows and toilets in the tenancy.


Maintenance of locks and keys

Did you know that its up to the tenant to carry out maintenance of locks and keys and if necessary, their renewal?

This means that if your lock should suddenly cease to function, it will be incumbent upon you to replace it. At the same time this also implies, that you are at liberty to change the locks and keys in your lease at any time  – without being obliged to give your landlord a copy of the news keys as long as you stay in the tenancy.


If you are still in doubt whether it is you or your landlord who has the maintenance obligation in your home?

Drawing the fine line between internal and external maintenance can sometimes be pretty subtle. So if you are in doubt as to whether it is you or your landlords who have the maintenance obligation, you may simple send your rental contract to us and we will most likely be able to provide you with an answer.

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