What is maintenance obligation, what does it mean and what consequences does it have if you don’t comply with the maintenance obligation? We would like to make it clearer.
Maintenance - What is it?
The basis of the rental agreement is that the landlord has the maintenance obligation for the entire lease except for the replacement and maintenance of locks and keys. The maintenance obligation of locks and keys is thus imposed on tenants.
However, the rules on maintenance obligations may be waived. It is thus legally agreed in the lease that the tenant takes over the maintenance obligation.
The person who has the maintenance obligation is obliged to maintain and correct any defects. It can be quite burdensome if the tenant in the lease is subject to the maintenance obligation for large parts of or the entire residence. Therefore, if the tenant takes over the maintenance obligation, the rent should be reduced accordingly.
However, it is often seen that the tenant is only required to handle the internal maintenance. But you must be aware of Section 11 of the lease agreement, where the maintenance obligation can be extended to specific installations or objects. You will then be responsible for the maintenance of these.
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Failure to fulfill the maintenance obligation
If you as a tenant do not meet the maintenance obligation, you may be required to pay for the repair. However, this will often be more expensive than if you had maintained the residence.
If there is a defect in the residence which the landlord has the maintenance obligation to rectify, please notify the landlord so that the landlord can correct it. If the landlord does not respond, you may be required to bring a case before the Rent Committee. Here the Committee will, as a starting point, give the landlord a certain period of time within which the landlord must carry out the maintenance. If the landlord does not perform maintenance during this period, you will, as a rule, be entitled to a relative reduction of your rent from the time the defect occurred.
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It is clear from the rent act that the interior maintenance concerns whitening, painting, wallpaper and floor painting. This means that the person who has the internal maintenance obligation must ensure that the apartment’s walls, ceiling and woodwork are painted and always maintained.
As a general rule, a home is to be painted every 3 to 5 years to be considered maintained. However, this may vary depending on the specific circumstances. For example, it can be smoked indoors, etc.
It will be stated in the lease who has the internal maintenance obligation. However, if the landlord is responsible for the internal maintenance, you are obliged to inform the landlord in case of a shortage in the lease. If you do not inform the landlord of a deficiency and this deteriorates, you may risk signing up for the improvement.
The work can either be carried out by the tenant / landlord or by professional. The only requirement is that the work is carried out manually properly.
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One would think that the external maintenance concerns all external maintenance. However, it is true that the external maintenance is actually more extensive. It relates to all maintenance other than internal maintenance – all other than paint, whitening and wallpapering in the lease. External maintenance therefore also applies to interior conditions – as long as it is not covered by internal maintenance.
External maintenance, for example, relates to electrical installations, water and gas hobs, radiators, etc., and white goods, if these were in the lease of occupancy and are stated in the lease.
It is the case that the residence must comply with the description in the lease. If the lease states that there is an oven in the lease, it must be expected that it is functional. If this is not the case, there is a defect in the residence that the landlord must remedy if the landlord has the maintenance obligation.
If you own the item in your residence, you are responsible for replacing or repairing them.
Exceptions to the maintenance obligation
There are a number of exceptions that are not included in the maintenance obligation.
These are listed here:
- Ordinary wear and tear in the lease.
- Other incidental impairments in the lease.
- Damage in the lease caused by negligent or deliberate action by the landlord or tenant or under one of their responsibilities (eg, the wrong use of the stove, marks on the wall, etc., or the landlord who negligently destroys something with repair or otherwise in the lease)
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It is usually the case that the internal maintenance is imposed on the tenant. If it is not subject to a tenant, but instead the landlord, an internal maintenance account must be established.
It is stated in the lease whether a maintenance account has been created. You pay – together with your rent – a fixed amount to your maintenance account each month. The amount depends on the size of the rent and is specifically regulated by the rental agreement.
You may, when necessary, require your landlord to perform maintenance. The landlord may then use the amount available on the maintenance account to cover the expenses.
In case of re-letting, the maintenance account is continued. This means that, as a tenant, you are not entitled to receive the amount deposited in your maintenance account. The amount will be transferred to the rent of the new tenant.
In case you get a new landlord, this will initially assume your old landlord’s obligations. This implies, among other things, that your new landlord takes over the maintenance obligation, and thus also the maintenance account. There are no changes.
Move in and vacate inspection – how does maintenance apply?
If your landlord leases more than one residence, the landlord is required to conduct a move in and vacate inspection of the residence. If the landlord doesn0t do it, the landlord loses the right to charge rehabilitation expenses upon relocation.
In the case of move in inspection, the status of the lease upon moving in is determined. The condition of the lease when moving in is important for the maintenance obligation when relocating. With the latest changes to the rental agreement, which entered into force on 01.07.2015, it was agreed that the landlord may only require normal repair and not repair which will bring the residence as good as new. Likewise, the principle that you are not required to leave the residence in better condition than you got it. This means, that you have to hand over the residence in the state established by the inspection team. Your maintenance obligation is limited to this condition.
For the vacate inspection, it will again be determined in what condition the lease is. If you have complied with your maintenance obligation, there will hardly be any comments from the landlord. If you have not complied with your maintenance obligation, this will be noted in the removal report, after which you will be responsible for the landlord’s renovation of the lease (of course, only the part of the lease that you have a maintenance obligation).
Keep in mind that the landlord for both inspections must submit a move in and vacate report, otherwise the landlord may for this reason lose the right to claim his rehabilitation expenses covered.
Repair upon vacating
The part of the residence on which you have a maintenance obligation is your responsibility to maintain. This applies both to the rental period and to relocation. This means that the residence when vacating must be maintained at the same condition in which you took over the lease.
Depending on your maintenance obligation, you can maintain the lease on a regular basis during the rental period, so that you do not have a major maintenance work in front of you.
Furthermore, it may be an economic advantage to do a part of the renovation work, so that the landlord doesn’t need to use professional at your expense. However, keep in mind that if you choose to paint and perform another form of restoration yourself, the work must be done correctly. Otherwise, the landlord may just require the work to be done (again) by a professional.
Also, remember that the landlord can’t require renovations of the part of the residence which the landlord carries on the maintenance obligation. However, a single exception to this is if you have breached the lease by negligent or intentional conduct. Such damage is your responsibility.