Purchasing a tenanted apartment for your own use comes with several legal limitations. Generally, buyers need to establish a valid reason for moving into the property and then provide the tenant with written notice of this intention. It should be noted that should a buyer already own an apartment and wants to use the tenanted apartment for their own use; they need to provide a solid reason, as the courts tend to side with the tenant in case of doubt.
Valid reasons for using the property for your own use include the following:
- A job change, which requires a move
- An increase in the size of the family, which requires a larger flat
- Change in living circumstances (e.g. marriage, divorce)
- Taking in relatives in need of care.
If the aim is to allow a family member to use the property, it must be demonstrated that they are close relatives, such as spouses/partners, children, parents, grandchildren, siblings, nieces or nephews. However, the courts will examine the relationships on a case-by-case basis.
Where the buyer intends to use the apartment for their own need, notice periods exist regarding the tenant having time to move out. The notice periods are provided for by § 573c (1) German Civil Code (BGB), and it bases the statutory notice periods on the length of the tenancy:
- Duration of tenancy 5 years or less: 3 months’ notice.
- Period of tenancy between 5 and 8 years: 6 months’ notice
- Tenancy of over 8 years: 9 months’ notice
Buyers also need to be aware that hardship cases exist, whereby removing the tenant can prove to be impossible. Such hardship cases are provided for under § 574 BGB. They include those involving elderly tenants, those who have a severe illness or require care, pregnant tenants, tenants that are at suicide risk, cases where a move endangers a graduation (school, study, training) and those involving school-age children for whom a change of school may be deemed to be unreasonable.