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In the last three years or so I had to sign a new lease contract for the same place three times:

  • At the very beginning of the lease
  • When my girlfriend moved in
  • When I had to get an extension for 3 months until we find a new place (she had to move away) and I wrap up things at my current location

I found numerous problems among which a dishwasher that was not working and also damages that started occurring shortly after I moved in due to missing sealant at the shower cabin (yeap, it was never there to begin with).

I informed the landlord right away (verbally). When I signed the second time, I made sure that these things were in the contract. However the landlord's son spun things my way and the shower cabin damages were pinned on me. I was stupid enough to sign it.

The third time I signed the contract I made sure to correct this mistake and this time I wrote down that the damages have occurred due to missing sealant (hence not my fault). Needles to say the dishwasher was also mentioned. The landlord and I both signed and this is my current contract.

Sadly, the relationship has deteriorated quite rapidly (due to the son's behaviour towards me). I will be moving out and I am pretty sure that they will try to pin on my whatever is possible to hold back my deposit (give or take 1.6K EUR).

The dishwasher was checked by a technician (hired by the landlord 2 years or so ago). I also showed the landlord right away that it is not working (took over 1 year to get a technician to check it out though...).

I would like to know if my current contract completely supersedes the old one or, since it involves the same residence, things such as damages etc. are automatically transferred. If the latter, how would one treat the case I have described above regarding the shower cabin?

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  • FWIW, in English, the legal term for a situation where one contract is completely superseded by a new contract is a "novation".
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 15, 2023 at 19:32
  • @ohwilleke Should I change the title? I am not familiar with such legal terms. :D Mar 16, 2023 at 6:35
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    No need to chan ge the title, my point was more to give you a launching point for research of your own.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 16, 2023 at 12:51
  • Thanks, I'm doing that right now. :D Mar 16, 2023 at 12:52

2 Answers 2

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I would like to know if my current contract completely supersedes the old one

This is impossible to answer without knowing the details of the contract.

Many contracts contain language that explicitly supersedes any "previous and contemporaneous" contracts and agreements between the parties. Even if akin language is missing in your contract, other terms or details might lead to the same conclusion. For instance, clauses regarding the deposit --particularly the amount-- and the timing of your actual deposit could be indicative that the parties' mutual understanding at the time of signing the latest contract was that there were no pending deductions from your deposit (or, if there were any, the landlord waived them).

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  • Well the contract, as typical in Germany, is for unlimited lease. Each time we had to make changes (e.g. include another tenant) we basically signed a completely new contract with the respective additions. There is not a single clause that would indicate transfer of previously signed contracts since this contract is just not intended for that purpose. In Germany, as far as I know, you have the Vertrag (contract) and Nachtrag (a continuation of an existing contract). However in all cases we signed a new Vertrag and not a Nachtrag. Mar 15, 2023 at 16:54
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No, it does not. The previous contracts have not been canceled since this would need to be done in written form, § 568 Ⅰ BGB. Thus an amendment or superseding contract according § 311 Ⅰ BGB requires making reference to the previous contract.

It is quite possible to contract for the same thing multiple times as emphasized by § 311a Ⅰ BGB.

  • On the one hand, your landlord now has three legal obligations to provide you three times the same apartment. Obviously this is not possible; it only works once.
  • On the other hand, you have three legal obligations to pay rent. For the other two rents, however, you have the defense of non-performance (the landlord hasn’t given you the apartment twice or thrice).
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  • Oh, wow...This is unbelievable. O_O I will know from now on. So basically I always have to combine a cancellation (Kündigung) with the signing of the new lease even if it's for the same place. So since we have three contracts now, which one is the one that would be taken into consideration and which one will fall into the "non-performance" category? I guess it's the third, respectively first and second? Mar 16, 2023 at 16:30
  • I say canceling a tenancy agreement requires written form. You do not need to cancel any contract. You can make amendments as per § 311 Ⅰ BGB. There is no form requirement for amendments, but probably your original/first tenancy agreement will say “amendments in writing only”. The amendment contracts – if they do not mention the previous contract(s) – appear and are in form completely “new” and independent contracts. There is no predefined way to remedy the situation. I can only tell you the lowest common denominator applies (e. g. you have to pay at least the lowest rent). Mar 17, 2023 at 23:44

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