From contract to termination
1. Renting a flat
When you rent a flat, the main element is the lease contract. It creates and regulates the relationship between tenant and landlord from the day the keys are handed over. The lease contract must obviously comply with legal obligations, but some obligations are contractual, so they may vary from one contract to another.
The law does not prohibit an oral contract, but it is always better to have a written contract, as the rules and obligations are then clearly stated in black and white!
It is important to check whether the lease is for a fixed term or is tacitly renewed each time for the same period, or whether it is for an indefinite period. This distinction plays an important role in termination. Moreover, a verbal lease is automatically a lease for an indefinite period.
Two recurring obligations that come into play as soon as they are mentioned in the contract are the rental guarantee and the insurance. Insurance against rental risks for tenants is recommended in any case, with or without an obligation in the contract.
If a rental guarantee is included in the contract, it cannot exceed an amount equal to 3 months’ rent. An inventory of fixtures on entry becomes compulsory. It must detail the state of the various rooms in the accommodation and must be signed by both parties. The inventory of fixtures is drawn up on the day the keys are handed over to the tenant.
During the first 8 days of occupancy, the occupant must register with the municipality.
2. Habitability, health and safety of the accommodation and the rented room
The rented accommodation or room must comply with the safety and health criteria laid down by the law of 20 December 2019 and by the Grand Ducal regulation of 20 December 2019. Some of these criteria apply mainly to rented rooms, but most of them have a general application. Moreover, hotel rooms do not fall under this law, but are governed by another statute.
Owners who wish to rent out one or more rooms must register them with the municipality and keep a register of occupants; in this register, each entry must be countersigned by the occupant.
- The surface area of a bedroom may not be less than 9 m2 per occupant. The minimum area does not take into account a kitchen niche or space for sanitary facilities;
- A bedroom may only accommodate a maximum of two adult persons;
Each dwelling or room must have a minimum height of 2.20 metres, except for the attic part;
- The dwellings and rooms must be protected against humidity, comply with fire protection criteria (detectors, fire extinguishers, etc.), have a heating system, and make it possible to evacuate quickly in the event of fire.
A Grand Ducal regulation of 20 December 2019 specifies which rooms must have a window or mechanical ventilation:
- Bedroom: window;
- Living room: window;
- Kitchen: window if it is the second exit for the occupants, otherwise mechanical ventilation;
- Bathroom: natural or mechanical ventilation;
- Toilet: natural or mechanical ventilation;
- Laundry room: natural or mechanical ventilation;
- Garbage room: natural or mechanical ventilation
All dwellings must have sanitary facilities (bathroom, toilet, washbasin); in the case of rented rooms, the occupants must have access to private or, where appropriate, shared sanitary facilities without having to leave the building.
The private part of the dwelling must be closable by a door; if it is a door to the outside, it must be watertight.
The law also contains provisions for the kitchen and living room, which vary according to the dwelling and the number of inhabitants. If two or more rooms are rented, access to a communal kitchen is required.
3. The main obligations
For the landlord:
To hand over the dwelling or building and the keys to the tenant in good condition and in compliance with health and safety regulations;
To maintain the accommodation (structural work) so that it can be used for the intended purpose;
To ensure the peaceful enjoyment of the property by the tenant (respecting privacy, not infringing on the rights of the tenant).
For the tenant:
- Pay the rent until the end of the lease (non-payment of rent may result in termination of the lease);
- Furnish the accommodation (if it is not already furnished). This obligation is linked to the fact that, in the event of non-payment of the rent, the lessor can have the furniture seized (only those intended for habitation);
- Maintain the accommodation in good condition (“enjoy as a good father of the family”);
- Respect the rules of the co-ownership and the internal regulations of a building (do not disturb the neighbourhood by excessive and continuous noise, by lack of cleanliness, etc.);
- Return the accommodation and the keys at the end of the lease;
- Respecting the clauses of the contract.
4. During the tenancy
There is a difference between rental repairs that the tenant must pay for and major repairs that the landlord must pay for. In reality, the distinction is not always easy to make and may depend on the cause (dilapidation, lack of maintenance by the tenant, etc.).
In principle, all repairs due to dilapidation of the building, force majeure, all work concerning the substance of the building and necessary for the tenant to enjoy the accommodation normally are chargeable to the landlord (repairs to the roof, floor coverings, repairs to large walls, etc.). Others must be paid by the tenant, such as the replacement of taps, household appliances, doors, etc.
As far as charges are concerned, only those for the exclusive benefit of the tenant (water consumption, etc.) must be paid by the tenant. Moreover, charges for meter rental or meter reading are to be paid by the landlord. The landlord is obliged to send a detailed statement (in most cases annually) to the tenant.
In the case of urgent work, the landlord has the right to have it carried out immediately. In this case, the tenant cannot request a reduction in rent if the work does not exceed 40 days.
The landlord has the right to visit the property once or twice a year to check on the condition of the property, normally stipulated in the contract. The tenant cannot refuse this right. However, the landlord must agree with the tenant on the time and date of the visit.
A change of landlord does not directly affect the lease itself, although the new landlord can later terminate the lease within the time limits and conditions provided for by law.
5. The end of the lease
The tenant does not need to give reasons for the termination, but he must respect the notice period, which is in principle at least 3 months. In the case of a fixed-term lease or a lease that is renewed, e.g. from year to year, the termination must respect the term stipulated in the contract.
For the landlord, a termination of the tenancy can only be done in cases provided for by law: for personal need (termination period of 6 months), in case of non-compliance with the tenant’s obligations (he can apply directly to the justice of the peace for termination), or for other serious and legitimate reasons which the landlord must indicate (termination period of at least 3 months). In the case of a fixed-term lease or a lease that is renewed for fixed periods, he must respect the term provided for in the contract. The tenant has the right to request an extension of the term.
Termination for personal reasons must be made by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt and must quote section 12(3) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2006. For other terminations, the law does not provide for any particular form, but it is always recommended to terminate by written letter, if not already stipulated in the contract.
An inventory of fixtures at the end of the lease is not compulsory, but it is strongly recommended that it be carried out if there has already been an inventory of fixtures at the beginning of the lease.
An exit inventory of fixtures is done on the day the keys are handed over to the landlord (or to the agent acting on behalf of the landlord). The tenant must leave the flat in the same condition as it was at the beginning of the lease, except for any damage or deterioration due to normal use or the age of the building.
For the handover of the keys, it is important that the tenant requests a certificate or receipt, or that he/she mentions the handover of the keys on the inventory of fixtures at the end of the lease.