What do I have to consider when renovating a bathroom in a rented apartment?

ZAre you Bathroom Renovations a tenant looking for a new bathroom? When you are entitled to a renovation and what measures you can take yourself. 

© Gina Sanders/Adobe StockGet landlord’s consent

If you are planning a bathroom renovation in a rented apartment, this must always be discussed with your landlord. It does not matter whether the landlord is obliged to renovate or not.

In principle, tenants are not entitled to the renovation of the bathroom in a rented apartment – but it often happens that they still carry it out on their own. Basically, of course, this is a clear upgrade for every bathroom, but you should still be careful – because from a purely legal point of view, the owner can demand that the bathroom be restored to its original state when the tenant moves out. Thus, a bathroom renovation that has not been discussed with the owner can be quite problematic and is therefore not a good idea. You should therefore obtain written permission from the owner in advance in order to be legally on the safe side. As far as the expenses for the renovation are concerned: financial support does not have to be provided by the owner if the tenant wishes a renovation. As a tenant, you should therefore first think about whether a renovation in a rented apartment is profitable at all, or whether you would prefer to move in the foreseeable future. Maintenance is a matter for the landlord

From a legal point of view, however, owners must ensure maintenance. Above all, this means that he must ensure that all technical and sanitary elements are functional. Individual cracks or stains on tiles do not have to be removed immediately, provided that the functioning of the sanitary elements is not impaired. What tenants may change without the consent of the landlord

Most bathrooms are decorated in disdainful white: no-frills, simple and somehow boring. Even the colorful shower curtain makes no difference. However, this is exactly the framework where you can let off steam as a tenant. Because even small changes can get a lot out of a bathroom. The only important thing is that any change can be reversed when the tenant moves out. Because, of course, no owner wants to have effort to eliminate major changes of the tenant in order to restore the bathroom to its original state.

Changes that the tenant may make himself may include a new wallpaper or wall paint, the replacement of the toilet seat, mirror, lamp or towel rail, and a new shower curtain. Of course, you are also free to install new bathroom cabinets and shelves. It is only important to store the old furniture, as it is the property of the landlord – unless it may be disposed of explicitly. This should then be confirmed in writing for safety.

Attention: Drilling holes in tiles is often a gray area. It is better, if at all necessary, to drill into joints, as these can be repaired later with filler. The best solution, however, is to switch to suction cups or adhesive strips, which can be removed without residue. Clarify important questions before

As mentioned at the beginning, all changes should always be agreed in writing with the owner in order to be legally protected in case of a case. This applies in particular to costs: Who pays what? Does the renovation affect the amount of rent? Does the owner bear part of the costs or does the tenant have to pay for the renovation alone? Installation work should always be carried out by an expert so that you cannot be held liable for any defects later. Here, too, close cooperation with the owner is recommended when it comes to finding the right specialist company. Finally, it should be made clear to the owner that a modernization of the bathroom also makes sense for him, because it increases the property value in this way. In most cases, however, a rent increase follows for the new tenant.If the bathroom has to be converted barrier-free

A special rule applies if a tenant cannot move around his apartment as before due to a physical disability or limited mobility. Here, the owner can be obliged to convert the living spaces accordingly. However, this always depends on the individual case. The expenses for this must still be borne by the tenant, but he can also deduct them from the tax. Is hotel accommodation permitted?

If an owner agrees to a bathroom renovation, the tenant first asks himself whether he must or can stay in his apartment during the construction work. Of course, this depends on the individual case, but is usually not the case. Sometimes a move to a hotel is necessary, but sanitary elements can usually be replaced or installed within one day. Should accommodation in the hotel nevertheless be necessary, many tenants wonder whether they have to bear the expenses themselves. In general, one should orient oneself here on § 555a paragraph 3 BGB – this paragraph stipulates that owners must pay in a reasonable manner for expenses incurred by the tenant in the context of maintenance measures. These can also be hotel costs if the tenant cannot use the bathroom for a longer period of time.

Further information can also be found on the page “Renovation of the rented apartment: What are tenants and landlords obliged to do?” at mietrecht.com.

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