I am a visiting scientist in Heidelberg, Germany. I was unsuccessful in my search for a private apartment in town so I made a reservation request with the University guest house. They sent me a booking offer by email for a rental starting January 19th, including terms and conditions, and asked me to formally accept it by email last week, which I did.
Now, one week later, I finally found a real apartment much better suited to my needs (e.g., it's available sooner) and asked the guest house to cancel my booking. However, they insist on applying the cancellation penalty, which is 1 month of rent. It supposedly applied to any booking cancelled less than 2 months before the start date, unless they find a new tenant.
I find this quite unfair because I only "locked" their apartment for 7 days. But my question is about the legal aspect: I didn't sign anything, and didn't transfer any money. My understanding is they plan to send me an invoice by mail and sending me to court if I don't pay it.
Hence my question: was my email confirmation legally binding? Would they win if they take me to court?