KARLSRUHE (dpa-AFX) - The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has backed landlords in the rental dispute over the settlement of claims for damages via the rental deposit. Landlords are allowed to offset claims for damages to a rental property that are actually time-barred against their tenants' deposit even if they have not exercised their right of substitution within the six-month limitation period, the Karlsruhe Senate stated in a ruling. This power allows landlords to claim compensation in money in the event of damage to their apartment instead of restoring the damaged property.

In principle, landlords have six months after returning an apartment to claim compensation for damage from their former tenants. However, there is one exception: if the claim could theoretically have been offset before the six months have expired, then offsetting is still possible at a later date. However, one of the conditions for this is that two similar claims are involved. Whether this applied in the case presented to the BGH was one of the focal points of the hearing.

In the specific case, a tenant had sued because her landlord had not repaid her rental deposit of around EUR 780 after she moved out. He justified this by saying that he was offsetting the deposit against claims for damages to the apartment. However, as the tenant was of the opinion that the claims were already time-barred, she sued for repayment of the deposit - and was proved right in the lower courts. The defendant landlord's appeal was now successful. The BGH overturned the judgment of the Nuremberg-Fürth Regional Court and referred the case back to the court for a new hearing./jml/DP/tih