Keeping animals in the rental law: when is the apartment allowed? – Country of the region

The cat is the most popular pet among Germans. Photo: Suomi/Pixabay


When it comes to pets, problems with the owner can arise quickly. There are even common clauses in lease contracts that are ineffective. We explain what to consider when keeping pets in rental apartments.

Since there are no specific Civil Code (BGB) clauses about pets in the rental law, in the event of a dispute, it depends on what is regulated in the rental agreement. In principle, animal husbandry should be in accordance with the contract, that is, it should correspond to the normal use of the apartment.



Is banning pets legal?

The online portal bussgeldkatalog.org indicates that this (as is often the case with legal questions) cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no”. However, in principle, the owner does not have the right to keep pets Unbound for not allowing. In a 2007 ruling, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled that the general ban on pets in the rental agreement Not allowed She (Reference No.: VIII ZR 340/06).

However, the owner is allowed to keep pets by restriction. In many lease contracts there is a so-called Permission Reservation. This means that the tenant must first ask before acquiring a pet. If the owner refuses, he must justify his decision. In an apartment building, for example, the interests of all residents must be taken into account and balance each other. In addition, the owner can also give his consent depending on other aspects, for example the number of animals and their danger, or whether they are disturbed by their own strong noise or smell.

Small animals are generally allowed

However, keeping young animals is usually not a problem and, according to bussgeldkatalog.org, the owner has to put up with this. Small animals, in particular, include animals kept in cages, aquariums, or other enclosures, such as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, aquarium fish, birds, or some reptiles.

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Dogs and cats are among the most popular pets ever. According to Statista, about 10.7 million dogs and 17.5 million cats lived in German homes in 2020. According to mietrechtslexikon.de, BGH explained in 2007 that dogs and cats Not as little animals (Az: VIII ZR 340/06). However, the following applies to them: a clause in the lease that essentially prohibits invalid fur noses. This in turn was determined by the BGH in 2013 (Az: VIII ZR 168/12). However, if the rental agreement states that the landlord must agree to buy a dog or cat, the tenant must comply with this. Here again, realtors cannot arbitrarily express a possible refusal, but they must provide valid reasons for it.

By the way, tenants who have guide or therapy dogs do not need permission to keep them. However, the owner has the right to block the so-called “menu dogs” (they are also known as “fighting dogs”).

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Visiting animals in the apartment

If an animal comes temporarily to a rented apartment, this must also be assessed on a case-by-case basis. In principle, visiting an acquaintance with one of the appendages is, of course, good. However, these visits should not last long and occur frequently. What this means in concrete terms is not entirely clear – the portal immowelt.de indicates, however, that a visit of more than six weeks cannot be considered a visit.

Caring for someone else’s pet

If you want to take care of a third-party pet at home, for example during the holiday period, you need the consent of the owner. If the latter does not agree, then the animal may not be taken, as decided by the Hamburg court (Az: 49 C 29/05).

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What to consider with liability insurance?

The landlord is generally liable for damages caused by the pet to the rental apartment that are beyond normal use. According to Stiftung Warentest, pet owners need private liability insurance. Owners of small animals and cats are fortunate because they are responsible if damage occurs. With a dog, things are often different: In some federal states, dog owners are required to take out additional dog liability insurance. However, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, there is only a similar obligation for the so-called “menu dogs”, as stated in the portal finanzen.de.


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