Less brokerage fees for buyers
On December 23, a new law came into force, according to which a broker may not charge more commission from the buyer of a single-family house or apartment than from the seller. The reason for the unusual date is the day of publication in the Federal Law Gazette.
That was on June 23, 2020 – and the “law on the distribution of brokerage costs when brokering sales contracts for apartments and single-family houses” should come into force six months after publication to give the brokers time to adjust to the new rules .
It remains unclear why it was not stipulated that the law would come into force at the beginning of the following month at least six months after publication. Then the new rules would have come into effect on January 1st and not the day before Christmas Eve.
From then on: Anyone hiring a broker must pay at least half of the broker’s commission themselves. Sellers also have to contribute to the costs of a real estate agent.
Another new feature is that in future the brokerage contract will need to be in text form – an oral agreement is no longer sufficient. And you do not have to pay a commission until you have signed a sales contract.
Special feature: The new regulations refer exclusively to single-family houses and apartments – and only affect private buyers. However, if the buyer has a commercial interest in the property, the brokerage costs may vary.
Modern law for homeowners
On December 1st, the Apartment Modernization Act (WEBoG) finally came into force. This strengthens the rights of homeowners’ associations. According to the Federal Government’s justification for the reform, the old residential property law from 1951 is no longer up to date.
Because it did not take into account the requirements that arise from the necessary expansion of electromobility, nor the structural requirements that are caused by climate change and demographic change.
The obstacles to structural renovation measures, which made the consent of all or a large proportion of the apartment owners necessary, are now being removed in certain areas: In future, individual apartment owners can in principle demand that so-called privileged measures be permitted by the co-owners.
This includes the installation of a charging facility for e-cars, as well as expansion and conversion measures for more accessibility, for burglary protection and for a fiber optic connection. In future, these measures will no longer require the consent of everyone. The respective owner then bears the costs.
New majority rules
The following applies to structural changes: If a double qualified majority in the owners ‘meeting – more than two thirds of the votes at the owners’ meeting and at least 50 percent of the co-ownership shares in the property – has voted for the measure, all owners must pay for the measure.
However, this does not apply if it is associated with disproportionate costs. Courts will decide that in the future. If there is only a simple majority vote in the owners’ meeting for the measure, those who voted for it have to pay for it.
In future, tenants will also be entitled to the fact that landlords allow the installation of an electric charging station as well as measures to reduce barriers and to protect against burglary at the expense of the tenant.
In addition, the WEBoG regulates the relationships with owners and property managers as well as the regulations for apartment owners’ meetings. In the future, participation should also be possible online, for example.
Cheaper FFP2 masks for people at risk
People who are particularly at risk, such as those aged 65 and over or people with certain pre-existing conditions, will receive discounted FFP2 masks from December – but only 15 per person. In mathematical terms, that’s one mask per winter week that this risk group should receive for a small contribution. The federal government bears the remaining costs.
DAB + mandatory in new vehicles
From December 21, all new vehicles – including campers, ambulances, ambulances and buses – must be equipped with digital radios with DAB + standard. DAB + is to make more than 260 programs available on 98 percent of the area of Germany – especially on the motorways.
More long-distance trains on important routes
The timetable change at Deutsche Bahn is on December 13th. The company promises 13,000 additional long-distance seats. The daily offer will then amount to 213,000 places.
Long-distance trains between Hamburg and Berlin are to run every half hour. The direct ICE service between Bonn and Berlin is also expected to increase. And the Eurocity Express between Munich and Zurich is intended to lure travelers from the plane to the rail.
But it will also be more expensive. Flex tickets are increasing by 1.5 percent, and for route season tickets and the BahnCard 100 it is even an average of 1.9 percent. Super saver prices, saver prices, Bahncards 25 and 50 do not get any more expensive.
An end to the old oven – or not
Around two million outdated wood stoves will have to be replaced, upgraded or shut down by the end of 2020. All wood-burning stoves, fireplaces and tiled stoves with a type test up to December 31, 1994 are affected. Anyone who operates such a stove must prove that it meets the limit values of level two of the first Federal Immission Control Ordinance (1st BimSchV).
In December there will be no desperate run on the stove fitters, because according to the Industry Association for House, Heating and Kitchen Technology (HKI), a significant proportion of the stoves in question have already been replaced this year. How many in total and which new ovens were actually replaced will become clear in the next few weeks.
The combustion systems must comply with emission limit values for dust and carbon monoxide as well as minimum degrees of efficiency. This can be proven by a corresponding certificate from the manufacturer, which shows that the furnace type on the test bench does not exceed the limit values. If the year of construction can no longer be determined, the pollutant emissions must be measured by the chimney sweep.
If he comes to the conclusion that the system does not meet the requirements, a filter must either be retrofitted or the furnace must be shut down or replaced by a modern, low-emission successor. If you want to be on the safe side, look out for the “Blue Angel” environmental label when installing a new stove.
Open chimneys, handcrafted basic ovens and stoves as well as closed chimneys, which can also be operated in the open state, are exempt from the obligation to exchange. This also applies to historical wood-burning stoves that were verifiably built before January 1st, 1950 and are still in the same place in the house.
Get married quickly and then split up
Anyone planning to say yes in front of the registry office soon should do this by December 31st. Because then the spouse splitting for the entire year can be requested in the tax return for 2020. This can be worthwhile when a couple has different incomes. If you only go to the registry office in January 2021 – the church wedding is not enough – you will only get the splitting in the coming year.