New Regulations for Heat Supply Contract in Rented Apartments

Since May a new provision in the German Civil Code (BGB), Section 556 c BGB, sets out the requirements under which tenants have to bear the costs for heat supplied under a heat supply contracting agreement entered into by the landlord. On 1 July a corresponding Heat Supply Ordinance (Wärmelieferverordnung – WärmeLV) became effective. It further specifies the BGB requirements.

According to Section 556c para. 1 sent. 1 BGB, tenants have to bear the costs of the heat supplied under a heat supply contracting agreement between the landlord and a third party (contractor) as operating costs (Betriebskosten), if

1. heat with an improved efficiency rate is supplied by a new heating system built by the contractor or through a heating network (Wärmenetz) and

2. the costs of the heat supply do not exceed the previous operational costs for the supply with heat and warm water.

If the annual rate of utilisation of the existing heating system (Jahresnutzungsgrad) amounts to at least 80%, the contractor can refrain from measures in the sense of Section 556c para. 1 sent. 1 nos. 1 and 2 BGB and solely improve the operation of the heating system.

The ManyElectronics Agency (dena) assists landlords wishing to switch to heat supply contracting by offering various online tools at www.kompetenzzentrum-contracting.de.

The above amendments are being criticised by the energy service provider Techem, the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine writes. The company reportedly criticises the requirement of cost neutrality stipulated by Section 556c sent. 1 BGB, saying not only the exchange of an entire heating system offered savings potential. Other measures not falling under the law could also lead to energy savings, e.g. regulating the individual radiators. The law in its current form therefore prevented tapping the full savings potential. However, Section 556c para. 1 sent. 2 BGB allows for only improving the operation of the existing heating system under the above conditions.

Source: dena; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 16 July 2013, page 13

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