A tenant has the right to have an incorrect distribution key changed when billing the heating costs. The Federal Court of Justice decided in a recent ruling.

The landlord must adhere to certain rules when billing for heating costs.

MPeople are entitled to have their heating costs billed according to the correct distribution key. This is made clear by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe in a judgment published on Thursday (Az. VIII ZR 113/17).

A tenant has sued, to whom his landlord bills half of the heating costs based on living space and half based on measured consumption. The man says that according to the heating costs ordinance, 70 percent of the costs would have to be based on consumption. The Frankfurt Regional Court had been of the opinion that it could remain open whether the requirements for this were met. The judges referred the man to the so-called right of reduction: According to this, the tenant can reduce his share of the costs by 15 percent if the landlord does not bill him according to consumption. This also applies to incorrect accounts.

The BGH sees it differently: According to the judgment, the man has the right to change a wrong distribution key. The regulation does not oblige tenants to wait for further incorrect bills to then reduce their share if necessary, it said.

The dispute will now be finally decided in Frankfurt. The district court still has to clarify whether the house meets the special requirements for the 70 percent key. If this is not the case, the landlord has more freedom when billing: He can measure between 50 and 70 percent of the costs according to consumption.