Should you offer basement storage with a temporary apartment?
Many landlords who rent out a furnished apartment for a limited period are unsure whether access and use of the basement for storage is included.
Read up on all the important issues concerning the topic of basement storage in rented temporary apartments.
Based on our many years of experience, we would advise against including use of the basement as part of the rental agreement. This is due to the following reasons:
The tenant may start storing furniture from the furnished apartment in the basement
Most tenants who put furnishings they don't like or need in the basement don't think anything of it. This may not be an issue if it's mostly just pictures, chairs, or other easy-to-carry items. Some tenants, however, might go so far as to dismantle and store cupboards, tables, or other heavy items in the basement. Moving and dismantling furniture often leaves traces on parquet and other wooden floors if it is not done professionally. It could also damage the stairwell floor.
Renting a temporary furnished apartment without a basement storage option limits the possibility of problems caused by the tenant removing furniture and storing it there.
Although basement burglaries are declining in Berlin, they still happen relatively often. If the tenant's belongings are stolen from the basement, this would be only covered by the tenant's household insurance, or their own insurance. If they don't store things of their own in a basement, the tenant won't need to take out household contents insurance for the duration of their stay in the furnished apartment. This is because all furniture belongs to the landlord. The expenditure of taking out their own household contents insurance just to store a few items is not worth the high insurance rate. Instead of regulating extra costs in case of burglary, it makes much more sense to prevent the situation entirely.
Moisture or mildew in the basement
If the basement is also rented out for us, the tenant could also expect that they can store suitcases or bags of clothing and other textiles that they don't need for the time being. However, if the basement is damp or affected by mould, this won't be possible. In tenancy law, of course, this is dependent on the conditions that the tenant and landlord have settled on in the tenancy agreement. But remember as a landlord you should consider that temporary tenants that come from outside Berlin or abroad may not be familiar with the problem of damp basements. And they are unlikely to find out beforehand - often the tenant has not even visited the apartment before renting, let alone the basement.
As the landlord, you should in any case avoid later disputes with the tenant, and not make promises or raise expectations that you may not be able to keep.
In recent years, Berlin has experienced frequent torrential rains, which have caused floods in many basements. If any of the tenant's belongings are damaged, the household insurance of the tenant would cover this, if they have taken it out. However insurance will only cover the damage, if the tenant opted for household contents insurance with specific protection. With a normal household insurance, the tenant is not covered in the case of flooding. If the tenant has also stored pieces of the landlord's furniture from the furnished apartment in the basement, and these are damaged in the case of a flood, it is questionable whether any insurance will compensate this damage.
Risks for the landlord if the basement of a furnished apartment is also rented
In the event of damage, the tenant will always contact you as the landlord. You will then have to deal with it.
If the basement is empty, the risk of burglary is much lower, and so is the probability that the lock or cellar door, will be damaged. The repair of locks or doors damaged by burglary is always the responsibility of the landlord.
Possible rent reduction
In the event that the basement cannot be used due to flooding, humidity, etc., the tenant may claim a rent reduction. The amount accepted by courts is usually 5%, which is not too much. Your tenant may see it differently, especially if the provision of the cellar was the reason for the decision in favour of your apartment. However, you can avoid all disputes with the tenant if you do not offer the basement for rental.
Ultimately it is an advantage for both tenants and landlords if use of the basement for storage is not part of the rental contract. The landlord is protected from a possible rent reduction if the basement is not usable. It is also saves the time and effort it would take to clarify extra conditions and circumstances. Tenants who would like to place suitcases and other items in the basement are in most cases not familiar with the consequences if there should be a burglary or water damage. Temporary letting should be kept as simple as possible, and while liability insurance is standard, further insurance, i.e. a household contents insurance, would be additionally required for basement storage.
Make sure you have enough storage space in your furnished apartment so that suitcases can be stowed, e.g. in the storeroom, in or on the cupboard, etc. Then a basement shouldn't be necessary.
Tenants who want to store the entire furnishings from the apartment in their basement are better off reconsidering if they should rent it out in the first place.
If as a landlord you have a dry and safe basement storage area, and would still like to offer it as an option, you are of course welcome to do so as a gesture of goodwill. However, it is important to remember that basement storage is not an expected part of the rental agreement - and can make things more complicated in the long run.