Prospective tenants often have to disclose extensive information about themselves when applying for a rental apartment. But not every question asked by real estate agents or landlords needs to be answered honestly.
The housing market is tense in many regions of Germany. If you want to prevail against the often numerous competitors for a rental apartment, you have to convince the broker or landlord of yourself. If they have the choice between several interested parties, factors such as creditworthiness or marital status often decide who will be awarded the apartment. But not everything that interests landlords or brokers must be disclosed by potential tenants.
Brokers and landlords should ask that
In principle, landlords or the brokers commissioned to search for tenants may ask any question. However, apartment hunters do not have to answer everything truthfully.
Potential tenants must disclose information in which the landlord could have a legitimate interest. This interest must be factual and understandable for all involved.
This factual, comprehensible and legitimate information includes above all the question of the creditworthiness of the potential tenant. After all, the landlord wants to make sure that the tenant can easily raise the rent. Therefore, the question of income is justified – landlords have to answer it truthfully. In particular, landlords or brokers may ask about an existing employment relationship – the question of the employer and the duration of the employment relationship is also permissible if it serves to determine the creditworthiness of the prospective tenant. Tenants must also provide information about the average net income and, if necessary, verify this with proof of salary. Corresponding evidence only has to be submitted when the contract is about to be concluded and the decision for the tenant has already been made. Here the tenant is allowed to black out information that goes beyond the legitimate interest of the landlord – namely the amount and regularity of the income.
Anyone who is not in an employment relationship but wants to pay the rent from social benefits must also state this.
In addition to the income situation, the broker or landlord may – in particular with regard to utility billing and the size of the rental property – also register a legitimate interest in the number of people who want to move in with the tenant. However, the tenant does not necessarily have to answer questions about marital status, as close relatives such as spouses, life partners or children can move in with the tenant without permission. The potential tenant does not have to provide any information about the exact family relationships; the tenants’ association considers such a request to be inadmissible.
Prospective tenants, on the other hand, have to answer truthfully to the question of whether an affidavit has been taken or insolvency proceedings have been or are pending. Because this information can also be used to draw conclusions about the tenant’s solvency.
Anyone who tells the untruth in questions with a legitimate interest for the broker or landlord can face consequences – up to and including termination without notice.
Expert Ulrich Steinmetz reports first hand on the most exciting real estate projects around the world.
Brokers and landlords shouldn’t ask that
In principle, inquiries for private and personal data are not allowed for brokers and landlords. For example, the question of future family planning is taboo – if the landlord still wants to know whether a marriage or children are planned in the future, the prospective tenant may provide false information if he does not want to disclose the information. He must not suffer any disadvantage from this later.
Tenants do not have to answer the landlord’s questions about hobbies or their preferred music genre – even if the landlord lives in the same house. Whether the prospective tenant smokes or receives frequent visitors are taboo topics, as well as possible party or religious affiliation or membership in a tenant association.
On the other hand, realtors and landlords are likely to inquire about plans for house music – a general ban is not permitted.
There is a particular taboo on questions relating to the health of prospective tenants. Here the tenant is not obliged to provide truthful information.
When asked whether tenants have served a prison sentence in the past or have a criminal record, prospective tenants do not have to give a truthful answer. Unless this happened in connection with acts of violence against the former landlord – in which case the new landlord has a legitimate and understandable interest in this type of information.
Personal information on identification documents that go beyond name, date of birth and address must also not be made available to the landlord. He may only request information that is necessary for a clear identity check – prospective tenants may refuse all other information.
When asked about plans to buy a pet, the potential tenant does not have to give a binding answer. The keeping of dogs and cats is usually regulated by a corresponding provision in the rental agreement, the tenant may also keep small animals without the express consent of the landlord. Many courts in this country disagree on the answer to the question of when a dog can still be classified as a small animal. Many rental experts advise tenants to play with open cards towards the realtor or landlord in order to avoid possible quarrels afterwards.
Way out tenant self-assessment?
When viewing apartments, it is now common practice for landlords to request tenants to provide information about themselves. These questionnaires are often given out directly at the first contact in order to enable brokers or landlords to pre-select applicants. Even if these self-assessments are made on a voluntary basis: prospective tenants can hardly avoid filling out this tenant self-assessment if they want to maintain a chance of winning the rental property.
Potential tenants can avoid questions that are too personal or private by bringing their own tenant self-assessment with them to the appointment. Corresponding forms are available for download from tenants’ associations and property sites on the Internet.
Landlord sits on the longer lever
Basically, it can be said that, especially in regions where the number of people looking for rent exceeds the number of rented property, landlords vigorously sifted out when choosing their new tenant. When looking for a new apartment or house, it is advisable to answer the most pressing questions from realtors or landlords in a friendly and determined manner and to the best of your knowledge and belief. Refusing to provide information completely can be a disadvantage under certain circumstances. Fibbling is allowed if the requested information encroaches too deeply on the private life of the prospective tenant and is not relevant to the rental of the rental property.
Image Sources: fizkes / Shutterstock.com