22 May You Lost Your Keys: What to Do Part 1
I’m sure everyone at some point or another has lost or misplaced a set of keys. It happens—that’s life. An interesting article over at Immobilienscout24 shows the challenges when this happens in Germany. So the question is, what should you do it you do lose (or have them stolen). this article will cover all the major points.
In Germany, unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as popping over to the local hardware store and making another copy of the key. Depending on what type of housing you live in, the key type may vary from a basic (but still expensive) front door key to a very expensive security key, which if lost will require the whole system to be changed. The latter would generally be found in large apartment complexes with multiple entrances or stores and shops. No matter how it happened, it’s important to tell your landlord or property manager. You’re not supposed to make another key without permission (though I suspect many do anyways). If you’ve lost the keys average cost to make a copy is around 50€, If you have the Schlüsseldienst or locksmith change the lock is around 150€. Much more if on a Saturday night you come home at 2am and realize your keys fell out on U-bahn.
“I don’t know what happened, I just locked myself out. No problem that’s what were here for. Now that will be 50 Euros”
Lost Vs Stolen Keys
From an insurance liability point of view there is a difference between losing your keys and having them stolen. If you were pick pocketed on the ubahn and therefore had your keys stolen than keys were stolen, than you (as the tenant) is not responsible This according to Court case – Amtsgericht Spandau 6 C 546/12), but a police report must be filed. Unfortunately if you (as a tenant) losses the keys, then you are responsible for the cost of replacing them. Up to and including replacing the whole system if security has been compromised.
Now if you’ve read my free e-book Tricks and Bricks Germany: The Expat Guide to Renting in Germany, you’d know that there are two essential things you need to get when you first arrive in Germany. The first one is Haftpflichtversicherung (liability insurance). The second is, either, getting private legal insurance, or membership in your local Mieterverein (tenants’ association). Liability insurance is exactly what it states. If I come over and accidently knock a glass of red wine all over your expensive Persian carpet than my liability insurance will cover the cost of cleaning or replacing it. Note: liability insurance is not contents, if I spill that glass of wine on MY expensive Persian carpet, than it’s not covered. ’ll talk more about insurance in a moment.
Mietverien: this is a low cost alternative to legal insurance, typical cost is under 100€ a year, vs several hundred for legal insurance. They are there to help sort out landlord tenant issues. A letter from the Meitverien usually is enough to sort out most issues. In one situation, during the handover, the landlord claimed the tenant had lost a key and demanded 5000€ to replace the locks. The Meitverien wrote a letter disputing the issue and the landlord dropped it. The real power isn’t the threat of court action but that you, as a tenant know your rights! Every big city has one and many offer support in various languages. Simple google Meitverien * your city. Just remember that there is a 3 month waiting list. They will still advise you and write letters on your behalf, but they won’t go to court for you.
Liabitility Insurance or Haftpflichtversicherung in German.
For the most part liablity insurance will cover lost keys but it’s important to check the fine print. Since not many expats can read heavy German legal jargon I highly recommend dealing with an insurance broker who specializes in Expats. Both John Gunn and Pat Ott come highly recommended. If you’re renting a place in Germany and haven’t read my free e_book than you can download it here.
So dear readers have you ever lost keys or had to put a claim in with your Haftpflichtversicherung?