Termination of a Lease Contract in the Czech Republic.
Ending a Rental Agreement on an Apartment in the Czech Republic.
The end of the calendar or/and academic year ends raises an important question – how to cease renting an apartment? In which circumstances can a contract for renting an apartment be terminated? How should the termination of a lease contract be carried out? What does «kauce» mean? Should it be returned? This article will help you t find the answers for these questions.
The end of renting an apartment is regulated by the Civil Code of the Czech Republic. From January 1, 2014 , the rights and obligations arising from that period are governed by a new Civil Code (№ 89/2012 Coll). Obligations, arising before 31.12.2013 are governed by the same rules, but with some exceptions – e.g. rights and obligation which are assessed under the “Old Code”, – could be used in conjunction with some of the provisions of the “New Code” (these are referred to in the first chapter of the first part of the new Civil Code).
Renting an apartment can be terminated in the following ways:
- Expiration of the term of lease, where the lease contract specified a fixed-term.
- On the basis of an agreement between the landlord and the tenant.
The lease contract must be concluded in written form. The contract shall specify the date of the end of the lease terms and the terms of the transfer of the apartment (Dohoda o skončení nájmu bytu).
- On the basis of a termination of the lease contract (vypověd’) in written form – from the side of the tenant or the landlord.
The tenant may terminate the lease contract without giving any reason.
- the rent of the apartment ends also with the death of the tenant, unless the agreement is transferred to another member of the tenant’s family.
The lease contract may be terminated by the landlord or the tenant. The termination notice must be in writing and delivered to the other party, and must specify the expiration date of the lease, which, according to the law, is – 3 months. The notice period starts on the first day of the calendar month following, from the date,- when the other party received the notice.
All the reasons,- for which a landlord may terminate a contract,- are specified in the Civil Code.
A condition for the validity of the termination notice (platnost vypovědi), served by a landlord to a tenant,- is
- the explanation of the tenant’s rights to object to the termination,- and the option of a revision of the termination notice by a court.
The deadline for filing a lawsuit at the court is 2 months from the date, of the termination notice being delivered to the tenant.
REASONS for the termination of a lease contract by a LANDLORD are as follows:
- the tenant does not pay the agreed rent (and/or services for the use of the apartment), for more than 3 months
- the tenant or someone living with them, despite written warnings, violate the rules of acceptable behavior and good neighborliness in the house,
- the tenant uses the apartment for purposes other than those stated in the terms of the lease contract,- or the law,
- the tenant is convicted of a deliberate crime against the landlord or the landlord’s family members, or against the property those living in the building,
- the tenant does not use the apartment for any apparent reason,
- the landlord needs the apartment for family use,
- the apartment was a “service apartment” and the tenant has ceased to carry out the relevant work, connected to this agreement,
- the apartment is designated for “special purposes”,- but the tenant is not disabled (this applies to the apartments most suitable for the intended user),
- the apartment ceases to exist.
The Civil Code, however, under certain conditions allows the landlord, to terminate the lease contract without a notice period (vypovědní lhůta), and to demand from the tenant, without delay and not later than 30 days from the end of the lease, to hand over the apartment.
The landlord can claim this right, if the tenant is in breach of their obligations. The Civil Code provides a list of what can be considered to be a very serious breach of the tenant’s duty:
- failure to pay the rent for more than 3 months,
- the tenant causes damage to the apartment of a serious and irreversible nature,
- the tenant causes serious harm or inconvenience to the landlord or those also, who living in the building,
- the tenant uses the apartment for reasons other than those specified in the contract.
- the tenant uses the apartment for purposes – which contradict the details of the lease contract, or the law).
The Civil Code further specifies that landlord may not demand that the tenant stays in the apartment after the period notice, as was the case before. However, if the landlord does not indicate, in the termination notice, the exact nature of the violation of the tenant’s obligations, or demands the terminations in less time than is lawful, then – the termination will not be considered valid.
(*** previously, in the old civil code, before 2014, in certain cases established by law and, in the case of the termination of a rent contract on an apartment by the landlord, the tenant was entitled to receive a substitute apartment or substitute accommodation, if the termination of the lease was not caused by the violation of the obligations of the tenant. In that case, the tenant could live in the apartment, for which the lease contract was terminated until the landlord substitutes the accommodation of the tenant. The new Civil Code does not provide the right of the tenant for that substitution.)
REASONS for the termination of the lease contract by the TENANT are also provided in the Civil Code.
The tenant is obliged to hand over the apartment to the landlord on the day of the lease contract expiration. If the tenant fails to do so, the landlord is entitled to compensation in the amount of the agreed rent until the day, when the tenant actually hands over the apartment to the landlord. The apartment is considered to be handed over when the landlord receives the keys and has no barriers to access the apartment or its usage.
It is very important at the end of renting an apartment and handing it over to prepare a “Protocol of Handover” of the apartment. In this Protocol both sides confirm the handover of the apartment, as well as the state of the apartment. The Protocol should record the meter data of the water, electricity and gas supply.
During the negotiations on a lease, the landlord may require a deposit (kauce) from the tenant. This is a refundable deposit for the rent, as well as payments for the services for using the apartment. According to the Civil Code, the landlord has the right to determine the amount of kauce, but this must not exceed the sum of six month’s rent on the apartment. The landlord must put the security deposit into special account (this in reality is rarely done). The landlord has the right to use this deposit to cover the debts/underpayments of rent and services related to the housing, caused by the tenant. After the expiry of the lease, the landlord must return the deposit to the tenant, no later than 30 days after the end of the renting of the apartment (expiration of lease or release of the apartment by the tenant).
KAUCE, or in accordance with paragraph 2254 of the Civil Code, the «security» (jistota), – a deposit – is a financial guarantee, that the tenant will fulfill his obligations under the terms of the lease contract. The condition for the occurrence of this obligation – deposit or Kauce – is a preliminary agreement between the tenant and the landlord.
The landlord must return the deposit to the tenant at the end of the lease term. However, the landlord is entitled to deduct from the deposit the sum of what the tenant owes. In other words, any debts relating to utilities or property damage. One innovation from 2014 is a legal guarantee for the tenant about the right of payment of the percentage of the deposit for the period of paying the deposit until its return.
However, the specific details of the lease contract, on which both parties agreed is very important. Attention should also be paid to the fact, that the return of the deposit is connected to the end of the lease and not – with the cases such as an eviction.
*Note: the rent on an apartment does NOT end:
- by the eviction: if the tenant wants to move out of the apartment before the end of the lease, they must terminate the lease of the apartment according to the above rules, and by agreement with the landlord. If they do not do this, then the lease is still valid.
- With a change of landlord. A situation may arise, where the owner of the apartment sells the apartment to another person and as such the landlord changes. The new owner assumes the legal position of the original owner, and the lease cannot be arbitrarily changed or terminated without appropriate reasons.
Elmira Lyapina, Prague, 2014
Disclaimer about the nature of the information contained in this article. The information provided in this article is general information, and does not constitute legal advice, and may not be valid in a particular situation. To obtain qualified legal consultancy, you should contact a lawyer with the provision of the necessary documents regarding the case. For example, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. This article was prepared on the basis of an analysis of legislative regulations for the year 2014. Therefore, while using such information, any changes made to the legislation after that date should be taken into consideration. This is a translation of an article which was published firstly in the Russian language on December 29, 2013, on the web page http://vk.com/jurist_praha?w=wall-60692647_7