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Consequences of German debt in the UK?

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My partner and I lived in Germany for a couple of years before moving back to the UK. We followed all of the rental obligations carefully, and were shocked when the rental agency hit us with ridiculous and exorbitant fees for cleaning costs, etc. even though the flat had been meticulously cleaned before we left. Unfortunately I was overseas for awhile, so my partner dealt with all of the fallout. He felt hopeless to dispute it, so he paid what they asked (I wouldn't have, without a fight!!) and then they also took the whole rental deposit, meaning that we've paid over €2000 despite all of our careful efforts to follow the rules and contractual obligations.


We're worried that they might send another bill later this year, for last year's utilities, and we just can't afford it. Yes, in some way it does feel irresponsible not to pay a legitimate bill, but we're so angry and frustrated about the other unjustified expenses that we want to avoid losing any more money. So my question is, if the rental agency sends us another bill of less than 500 euros, and we don't pay it, will there be any serious consequences to us in the UK? Surely they will forward the bill to a collection agency, but as long as there wouldn't be any impact on his/our credit rating, or UK court involvement, then I suppose it doesn't matter too much.


I should also mention that we're not going to be moving back to Germany in future.

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Hi Welcome to CAG, if the rental company do take action a UK debt collection agency or a debt purchaser could take action which would be recorded.



Or if action is taken in a German court and a judgement is awarded to the company they can apply for a European Enforcement Order to be actioned by the UK court system.



Much I think will depend on how much is owed and if the company thinks it is worth the cost and effort.

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I've lived there too.


In theory the letting agency could go down the route of getting a judgment in a German court and then trying to enforce it here, but I think the likelihood is that they won't, especially for a small amount, for the reasons Brig gives above.


Tenancies in Germany are much more tightly controlled by law than they are here. I wonder if the money grab when you left followed the correct route, or whether they were trying it on because you were leaving? It's not unheard of.

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Hi Achocha,


It is normal in Germany that the LL/LA will arrange for the apartment to be professionally cleaned and painted after you leave, it is also normal that they will try and charge as much as they can get away with.

If you are not German (i.e. an Expat) then this fee can be extreme, to say the least, as they know you will not be 'in country' to defend it..

They also 'try it on' with Germans as well - who sometimes pay up without a fight.


Did you pay any 'NebenKosten' while you were there???

If you did then you should receive a copy of what you have paid and a breakdown of your cost associated within the NK

I assume that you paid the standard utilities (Elec., TV, Telephone, Gas) yourselves or were these included?

If not included in the rent or NK, did you leave with any unpaid utilities?


You need to ask the LL/LA for the invoice that the cleaning company raised and then challenge it.


Do you still have a copy of your rental agreement as this will state your obligations when moving out.

In germany it is common that you spend a lot of time cleaning, or even getting someone in to do it, and then the LL/LA says 'don't like it - needs to be better' and you are stumped with the costs, which come out of the deposit.


I normally invite the LL/LA over prior to the final moving out day, usually a week at least beforehand, and go over what they think is needed and get it done myself or agree with them a 'cleaner/supplier'...


It is also worthwhile to note that the desposit is 'usually' there to cover the costs of cleaning/repainting, damage, etc. for when you move out.

As the deposit is placed in a special bank account you are entitled to any interest that has been applied - contact the LL/LA for this information..


They MUST provide you with a full itemised list of how the costs have been assigned against your deposit+interest and any over amount that you needed to cover.

There is no legal recourse in Germany that allows a tenant to say 'but I have already cleaned/repainted myself' all the LL/LA needs to say is 'not sufficient' and you are lumbered


As the ScarletPimpernel has said they do tend to 'try it on' especially when they know you are leaving the country...... Also the law is very much in favour of the tenant




P.S. How long were you in the apartment as this may have an implication as well?

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If not included in the rent or NK, did you leave with any unpaid utilities?


Do you still have a copy of your rental agreement as this will state your obligations when moving out.


P.S. How long were you in the apartment as this may have an implication as well?


Thanks all for your very helpful replies.


Gerson, we did pay Nebenkosten, but were always rather confused. We had been told when moving in that the rental price included all bills except for one (I can't remember if it was water, or whatnot). However, we regularly got bills from the gas company, etc. And every year, we were sent a bill for backpayment of what was explained to us as landscaping costs, heating, and who knows what else. The language barrier was a huge issue, as our German was only basic. We are expecting one of these backpayment bills later this year (the flat was vacated in August 2013).


We do have a copy of the rental agreement. In the agreement I noticed that they said the whole flat should be repainted every two years, but looking online, it seems that they are not legally able to enforce this even if it's stated in a contract. Nevertheless, they did require painting to be done and we did it. A representative from the rental agency came over to check the flat the day before we moved out, and mentioned a couple of things that needed to be done, so we did them. This is why we are perplexed as to why there were charges for cleaning and painting!


We were in the apartment for a little over two years. The contract had to be cancelled early, but another tenant was found, so all is well in that regard.

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Hi Achocha,


Can you post a redacted copy of your tenancy agreement - PDF format please.


I am looking for a particular clause regarding 'Moving out' and cleaning. The law was changed a few years back so need to verify what you signed for was correct/legal.... the text I am interested in may contain 'Besenrein' (swept clean)


For those that do not know....

NK = at each rental payment period you pay the rent + NK. The NK is an annual assessment for the costs of running the 'house' (i.e. the building costs, communal lights, communal heating, chimney cleaning, communal water, grass cutting, snow clearing, heating costs (estimated) per household, etc..) that is equally spread across all tenants based on apatment size, the number of occupants, etc. At the end of each NK annual billing period the costs are tallied up for each 'household' and charged against the NK (Note: there are usage meters attached to each radiator and you only pay for what you used). Any overpayment is returned within 10 days and any under payment is due within 10 days of the date you receive the breakdown. This 'invoice' will then be used to estimate the next years NK so that you are never presented with a massive bill - usually takes about 2 years of living there to flatline, +/- 100€ - my last one was 24.95€ that I had to pay (been here 8 years now).


As I do not know which area of DE you lived in then I can only give my opinion of the NK 'invoice' based on where I currently live. All meter readings and costs that go towards the NK should be completed and with the tenants no later than October of the current year.


As you left in August 2013 then you should already have been presented with this. If not then contact the LL/LA immediately - do they have your UK address? or e-mail address?


I would assume that the only bill(s) excluded would be either Gas, TV, Telephone/Internet, or Electric. As you have stated that you paid for the Gas then that should be documented in the tenancy agreement.


You are correct in that they cannot enforce that you repaint every two years. This was one of the law changes, i.e. you hand it back as you found it... and you only need to paint as often as YOU think is necessary.


As for finding another tenant because you left early, after two years rental that is a false statement - within the first 1-2 years you need to give 3 months notice, after that 1 month is enough and either way you do not need to find a new teneant unless you give a short notice period.


If you gave sufficient notice then it is up to the LL/LA to find a new tenant. If not and you or the LL/LA did find a 'Nachmeiter' within time then you are only liable for NK upto the earliest of a) date LL/LA begins renovating, b) the end of your 'notice period', c) the date the new teneants moved in


If you want I can check your NK statements as well - if so then redact and PDF them here



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Some more quick questions----


Did you rent the apartment as furnished or unfurnished?

Was a kitchen included?



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