The utility bill

The utility bill

The utility bill

The utility bill is a sensitive issue between tenants and landlords, not only in terms of the amount that may have to be paid in arrears, but also in terms of the errors in content that can occur.

We have compiled the most important sources of error for you:

1. Additional payment despite gross rental agreement (inclusive rent)

If you have concluded a rental agreement with your landlord that shows a gross (cold) rent, the landlord is not allowed to submit a statement of operating costs at the end of the billing period, since with this type of rental costs no flat rate is paid as a deduction from the operating costs, but rather the costs as actual costs be paid.

2. Late Billing

Landlords have 12 months after the billing period to make a corresponding additional cost claim to the tenants. If the landlord has digressed and only presents this after 15 months, the tenant no longer has to pay additional claims. However, any credit in favor of the tenant does not expire.

3. Separate billing of commercial space

Since businesses (e.g. bars, bakeries) use more waste or water than private individuals, commercial premises must be billed separately and deducted from the total area. If the landlord fails to draw a clear distinction here, the tenant would be unduly disadvantaged.

4. Cost deduction for empty apartments

If there are empty apartments in your residential building, the tenant must count these in the total living space, as fixed costs such as property tax, chimney sweeps, etc. in any case, regardless of whether the living space is rented or not.

5. Principle of Economics

The landlord is obliged to act economically with the tenants' advance payments. For example, if the landlord hires a cleaning company to clean the stairs four times a week, there obviously seems to be a violation of the principle of cost-effectiveness.

6. Unjustified operating costs

Only costs that are listed in the rental agreement under the corresponding costs - especially under other costs - and which are accepted by the court as such may be billed. It is also important to know that only ongoing costs can be billed. For example, replanting the garden is not part of ongoing costs, which is why the landlord is not allowed to pass these on to the tenants.

7. Billing Period

The billing period must always be 12 months. If you move into your new home in October of a year and the landlord does not want to create a separate final invoice for the remaining 3 months until the end of the year, but does want to create a subsequent invoice for a total of 15 months, this is not permitted.

8. Area information

Many operating costs are allocated according to the living space. It is worth taking a look at the area allocated and checking whether it corresponds to the area specified in the rental agreement. If 50 m² is used as the calculation basis in the final bill instead of the 35 m² specified in the rental agreement, this can result in considerable additional costs.

9. Administrative and repair costs

Administration and repair costs are not eligible costs. If the elevator company is called in to repair the elevator and maintenance is carried out at the same time, only the costs of the maintenance may be passed on to the tenant - in return, the landlord must bear the repair costs.


The item “maintenance reserve” appears again and again in utility bills. These costs may not be passed on to the tenant - nor should bank and postage costs.

10. Double billing of costs

Even though you have a caretaker in your rental property, does your landlord bill separately for garden maintenance and snow removal costs? However, these are usually typical tasks of a caretaker. If these activities have been outsourced to external companies, the cost share must be deducted by the caretaker according to the service profile so that the costs are not billed twice.

Source: http://www.berliner-mieterverein.de/magazin/online/mm1203/hauptmm.htm?http://www.berliner-mieterverein.de/magazin/online/mm1203/120323.htm

The utility bill is a sensitive topic of debate not only in terms of the amount that may possibly have to be paid back, but also in terms of errors in the content.

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