Rules of the renting game04-09-2014
Each year thousands of expatriates take up rental contracts in Luxembourg when they move to the Grand Duchy for work.
Luxembourg's consumer union the ULC received 713 complaints relating to rented accommodation in Luxembourg in 2013. Compared to the country's total renting population of around 160,000, this figure may not seem high but if not all tenants are aware of their rights, it may only be the tip of the iceberg.
Here, the ULC answers the most commonly asked questions when it comes to rented accommodation.
Are tenants entitled to visit a property before renting?
There is no legal obligation for the owner or the estate agency to show the property to a potential tenant. However, if a potential tenant asks to see the property, the landlord or agency cannot refuse this request.
If a property rental agreement is signed without the tenant having seen the property, they relinquish the right to reproach the landlord if, for example, it is not in a good state.
If the potential tenant lives abroad, they may be tempted to sign a contract based on pictures that claim to show the property. They should be aware that a photo may hide property flaws and should always visit the place before signing a contract.
What if a landlord or agency uses a false photo to publicise their property?
A legal case is possible if the photos do not correspond to reality. This can be classified as a misleading business practice.
The Consumer Code defines that such an offence is liable to a fine of 251 to 120,000 euros and the possibility for the tenant to have the contract annulled in court.
The tenant could also request the contract be annulled by claiming error of substance only if they can prove they have invested the time and means to check the state of the property. However, it is difficult and the onus is on the tenants to inspect the site before signing the contract.
Can landlords charge administration fees for extending the period of the tenancy?
If the contract is not terminated once it expires, it is automatically extended so the tenant should not incur an administrative cost.
What are the minimum legal requirements for a landlord to rent accommodation in Luxembourg?
For one person, the property must provide a living space of 9 m2, for two people 18m2, 24m2 for three people and 30m2 for four people.
Landlords renting accommodation must declare details of the property to the mayor of their commune, indicating the number of people living there, the amount of rent they pay and a description of the state of the house or flat.
The local authority is responsible for checking the property meets the required standards. If a property does not meet the criteria, landlords may be fined from 251 to 125,000 euros and could face a prison sentence of eight days up to three years.
Are there limits on the amount of rent charged to tenants?
The annual rental revenues of a property should not exceed 5 percent of what was paid for it.
What should tenants do if they feel mistreated by a landlord or estate agency?
It is the obligation of the landlord to guarantee the tenant the possibility to live peacefully in the property. If this is not the case, for example the place is uninhabitable, the tenant should lodge a complaint as quickly as possible by sending a letter by registered post to the landlord.
Regardless of the complaint, the tenant has no right to cease paying rent. Only a judge may request a reducation in rent if a landlord is deemed to have broken the law. Failure to pay rent will put the tenant at risk of being taken to court.
In all cases, tenants may contact the ULC by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 49 60 221.
For more information on consumer rights and housing contracts:
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