After well over ten years have passed since the last revision of the German Condominium Act (Wohnungseigentumsgesetz, WEG), the Federal Cabinet has now approved a draft for a far-reaching amendment of this law on 23 March 2020. Once the draft has been introduced into the Bundestag, the legislative process could be completed before the end of the summer and the law could then enter into force promptly. We would like to briefly present some of these amendments below:
In times of climate change, an important aspect for the legislator in this reform is the implementation of the topic of electromobility and barrier-free construction. Corresponding renovation and modernisation measures are now to be significantly simplified. To this end, the draft law provides that in future each individual owner shall be entitled, even without a majority resolution, to install at his or her own expense a charging station for electric cars, a barrier-free extension and conversion, and precautions against burglary, as well as the installation of a charging facility for an electric vehicle and measures concerning burglary protection.
In addition, the draft law provides for a significant expansion of the administrator's powers compared to the current legal situation in order to make the administration of common property more effective. Instead of a resolution by the community, which has been necessary up to now, the legislator wants to give the administrator the power to decide on his own responsibility and bindingly for the community on such measures "on which a resolution by the owners is not required".
At the same time, the draft law also provides that in future the manager may represent the community externally, i.e. towards third parties (such as tradesmen etc.), without restriction. These are all reasons for a community to pay even more attention than before to the qualifications of its administrator.
Another problem is often the proper conduct of owners' meetings and the passing of resolutions. The legislator now wants to counteract this by ensuring that in future a meeting will always have a quorum, regardless of the number of owners present or represented. In addition, the advancing digitalisation is to be taken into account. In future, owners should be able to participate in meetings online and pass resolutions by circular letter using electronic means of communication such as e-mail, WhatsApp or internet platforms.
However, the above-mentioned topics are only a small part of the overall large number of future changes in the WEG. The legislative initiative is to be welcomed; it closes gaps that remained open in the last reform and first had to be closed by case law. In addition, it adapts the legal situation, for example in questions of electromobility, to current requirements such as climate change or barrier-free construction. At the same time, however, it is already clear that the new draft leaves numerous questions open or even raises completely new ones. As with the last reform, practice will therefore have to show to what extent the law actually solves the questions and problems that arise for those affected and which corrections and additions will still be necessary in the future as a result of the case law dealing with it.
In further articles, we will take a closer look at the issues addressed here, such as renovation and modernisation measures, the powers of the administrator and the conduct of owners' meetings and resolutions.
Düsseldorf 02nd of April 2020
Author Axel Kötteritzsch