Beauty Repairs – What Tenants And Landlords Should Know

Actually, the landlord is responsible for obtaining his property. However, some of the renovation work may be transferred to his tenants by means of so-called beauty repairs. However, landlords do not always comply with legal regulations.Beauty Repairs

Examples of actual beauty repairs

The phrase “beauty repairs” is initially misleading since it has nothing to do with repairs in the conventional sense. Rather, it encompasses so-called decorative tasks in a rented apartment, which primarily contribute to the improvement of the appearance. Small superficial damage, such as the removal of small wells, can also be included.
The beauty repairs include:

  • Simple painting work, including painting or walling walls and ceilings, as well as painting of radiators.
  • With regard to the coating of windows and doors, the tenant is exclusively responsible for the interior. The external sides are the property of the landlord.
  • All other activities, for example grinding work or a carpet may only be demanded by the hirer if it has been proven to damage them by improper use. Normal wear and tear are not included.

Examples of unauthorized beauty repairs

The concept of beauty repairs is often interpreted very arbitrarily in leases, and includes a large number of explanations which are not permissible from a legal point of view.

  • One of the most common ambiguous areas of the apartment, which regularly leads to disputes in court, is the floor. Many rental contracts stipulate that a floor is to be brought into the same state in which it was taken over. This is basically not possible. An originally newly laid carpet flooring, which is part of the tenant’s property, will inevitably look worn after ten years of rental period.
  • The landlord may expect a hygienically clean and clean condition, but no renewal.
  • The same is true for parquet floors. It is generally not the tenant’s responsibility to maintain a parquet floor in the form of sanding or sealing. This work is to be borne principally by the landlord.
  • The painting of skirting boards and pedestals is not part of the tenant’s responsibility.

Effective clauses in the lease

The landlord usually has the right to arrange the takeover of beauty repairs by the tenant in the lease. Contrary to the frequent assumption, however, the tenant is not obliged to undertake any activity which is not recorded in writing in the contract. There are two essential requirements for the validity of all clauses.

  • The apartment has been given in a completely renovated condition.
  • In the case of a non-renovated transfer, the tenant must have received an adequate compensation.

Effective clauses in the rental contract may only cover the actually permitted beauty repairs. They can be listed in a contract formulated by the landlord himself or in a finished form lease contract. In the case of form contracts, the actuality of the form must be observed. Only the form sheets, which were created after the legal change in 2015, are decisive for a lease.

Ineffective clauses in the lease

The concrete demand of the landlord knows to delete is not allowed. It may, however, expect neutral colors and a suitably designed finish.

The number of ineffective clauses in typical tenancy agreements is so varied that only a selection of the most frequent remarks can be made at this point.
The final renaissance clause generally provides for a renovation of the apartment upon removal. This clause is inadmissible because it does not take into account whether a tenant has lived the rooms for six months or twenty years. Rigid renovation periods specify the exact distance the tenant has to renovate the individual rooms during his rental period. This requirement is also ineffective because it does not allow a temporal alternative. The clause can only be formulated as a guideline.

The requirement of a white coat is not allowed. The landlord may only expect a residential delivery with so-called neutral colors.


Color selection clauses for wallpapers can also be found in many rental agreements. They stipulate that the wallpaper may be painted during the rental period only in certain colors, which should have a light tone. The clause is not permissible. The tenant is allowed to choose all the colors and patterns for the walls during the residential use.

The settlement clause

One of the most frequent legal disputes in rental contracts is the closing clause within the framework of timetables. Even if the renovation periods during the rental period are legally flawless in the sense of a guideline, there is regularly a closing clause for the time of the move. This stipulates that the lessee must pay a pro rata share of the renovation costs of the landlord. The landlord defines for each room a useful period until the renovation. From this period, the tenant’s period of residence is deducted and a pro rata cost estimate for the renovation work is calculated. For a rental period of two years, the contract has a share of 66% of the renovation costs for the kitchen and 40% for the living room.


This frequently used clause is invalid in all cases and does not have to be considered by the tenant. The legislature assumes that only the actual state of an apartment is relevant at the time of the withdrawal. If, on the other hand, the landlord had a high degree of wear and tear, he can be held liable.

Rent an unrenovated apartment

Since March 2015: tenants of an unrenovated apartment are not responsible at the beginning of the rental period, during the rental period or during the extension for renovation work and beauty repairs.


One of the most common mistakes in the responsibility for beauty repairs and renovations is in the context of taking over an apartment in the unrenovated state. Until 2015 it was permissible to impose the activities on the tenant, provided this was anchored in the tenancy agreement.

March 18, 2015, marks the date of the so-called “legal” turn. On this day, the Federal Court of Justice has determined in a judgment that the tenant of an unrenovated apartment is not responsible for the start of the rental period, nor during the period of rental or during the removal for beauty repairs or renovations.

An exception to this rule is permitted only if a written agreement is made between the tenant and the lessor. In this case, for example, a rental-free time can be agreed. The transfer of an unrenovated apartment necessarily requires a corresponding notice in the lease. Small traces of use are not sufficient to be released from beauty repairs. Frequently, landlords try to conceal an unrenovated state by minor refreshments. In this case, a detailed transfer protocol and, if necessary, photographs of the premises are helpful.

Proper execution of the work

One of the most common issues is based on the different assumptions about the meaning of the term “professional”. Numerous rental contracts demand the need for the proper care of beauty repairs and renovations. Very often the word “execution by a painter company” is used. Provided that the execution of the work is basically lawful, the landlord can only demand an implementation in “medium type and goodness”. No specialist operation is required for this service. The renter has only to ensure that the beauty repairs transferred to him are performed accordingly. He may also do so in his own capacity or by acquiescing friends or acquaintances of his choice. The demand of a specialist company constitutes an unreasonable disadvantage. The tenant must be able to carry out the work within the framework of a cost-saving self-service. He is also not obliged to provide proof of the manner of implementation to the lessor, provided that the result has been carried out properly and is recognizable.


Much of the leases are faulty

A rental contract should specify precisely the type and scope of beauty repairs. Especially anger in painting and the condition of the parquet can be avoided.

The legal situation with regard to the cosmetic repairs to be carried out in a rented apartment is rarely clear, and often only in the context of an individual case. The German Civil Code (BGB) basically defines the landlord as the competent person for the transfer of an apartment and the preservation of the property during the duration of the rent. At the same time, in many tenancy agreements, the tenants themselves are held responsible for the safeguarding of the housing situation by means of certain renovating clauses.

This practice is only permissible in the sense of a transfer of a contract, if precisely stipulated provisions are adhered to which determine the type and extent of the beauty repairs. In the past, there were various court judgments, which caused a degree of uncertainty, as more and more clauses were declared ineffective. A large number of leases are formulated incorrectly in this regard. The tenant may, if necessary, sue against unlawful requirements and is not obliged to implement work which is based on invalid clauses.

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