Back payments expire after New Year’s Eve


Lerato Khumalo

If the landlord delays paying the utility bill, this may be advantageous for the tenant, as he or she will not have to pay.

Those who do not receive their utility bill for 2021 until 2023 could be in luck. Because then tenants will no longer have to pay the additional charges listed therein. The Hamburg Tenants’ Association points this out.

Additional payments for 2021 are only valid if the invoice reaches the tenant no later than December 31, 2022. And not at midnight, as the Hamburg Regional Court (AZ 316 S 77/16) decided. According to the court, the invoice must reach the tenant by 6 p.m. on the last working day of the year. If December 31 falls on a Sunday, the tenant must receive the invoice the day before.

When the landlord sent the letter is irrelevant. “What matters is that it was received within the deadlines set by the courts, which the landlord must prove in case of doubt,” says Rolf Bosse, chairman of the Hamburg Tenants’ Association.

A higher additional payment can also no longer be claimed after the turn of the year. If the landlord corrects bills after the one-year period has expired, this must not disadvantage the tenant. However, if the billing involves a refund for the tenant, their claims do not expire even if the operating costs bill for 2021 does not arrive until 2023.