From July 2024, landlords will no longer be able to charge cable fees to ancillary costs in Germany.
Why were landlords previously able to pass on TV cable costs to tenants? What is the reason for the apportionment for cable TV? What can you do if you are affected? Find answers to your questions here.
In Germany, landlords are allowed to pass on certain ancillary costs to their tenants, known as apportionable ancillary costs. Another term often used in the media for this is ancillary cost privilege. Examples include property tax, street cleaning and lift costs. However, many people do not realise that the charges for the cable TV connection in an apartment buildings are also included in the service charges. Even if the cable TV is not used, the charges must be paid by tenants. You can find out whether you automatically pay the fee for cable TV in the "Service charges" section of your tenancy agreement.
The apportionability of cable television thus describes the possibility of apportioning or billing the costs for the cable TV connection via the ancillary rental costs. Politicians have decided that this will no longer be possible from 1 July 2024.
On this page you will find answers on the following topics:
The ancillary cost privilege is now outdated. It originates from the time when cable television was newly introduced. At that time, instead of 5 channels, up to 30 TV channels could be received. The demand was correspondingly high. Since then, however, television technology has developed considerably and new, more attractive TV reception channels have been added. Options such as TV streaming offer completely new possibilities that were unimaginable 40 years ago. In December 2021, the Telecommunications Act was amended as a result. From July 2024, this prohibits landlords from automatically passing on TV cable charges to tenants along with ancillary costs. A transitional period will apply until then.
In short, you will be able to choose your TV signal freely from July 2024 without running the risk of paying twice.
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With the new Telecommunications Act, cable TV charges can no longer be passed on. This means that from July 2024, landlords will no longer be allowed to pass on cable TV fees to tenants in their ancillary costs. From 1 July 2024 at the latest, those affected will have to decide whether they want to continue using their existing cable TV connection or switch to a different TV signal.
The change affects all tenants who pay a charge for cable television via the ancillary rental costs. This is currently estimated to be over 12 million households in Germany. You can check your tenancy agreement or your last utility bill to see if you are affected. If you are not sure, simply ask your landlord or property management company.
In many tenancy agreements signed before December 2021, cable charges are still regularly included in the ancillary costs. In these cases, there is a transitional period during which the charges for cable TV may still be passed on to tenants. This also applies to rental agreements concluded after the cut-off date of 1 December 2021.
You do not need a new tenancy agreement. The abolition simply means that, as a tenant, you will no longer have to pay for the cable TV connection via the ancillary costs from 1 July 2024.
From 30.06.24, it will no longer be permissible to pass on the costs of cable connections to tenants. It can happen that landlords overlook this change and still include the costs in the ancillary cost calculation. In such cases, tenants should lodge an objection and deduct incorrectly charged costs from back payments or, in the case of credit balances, demand that they be paid out.
You can obtain information directly from your landlord/landlady or your property management company. On the internet you can find general information on the elimination of cost apportionment for cable TV.
What does it mean for those affected that the cable charges are no longer part of the ancillary costs? Many providers are already trying to lure tenants with new contracts. Don't be taken by surprise by door-to-door salespeople. There is currently no urgent need for action.
As a tenant, however, you can already start thinking about which TV reception option is best for you in the future. Is flexibility important to you and would you like to watch TV on the train on the way to work? Then TV streaming might be something for you.
From 1 July 2024, landlords will no longer be allowed to pass on the costs of cable TV contracts to tenants. They will then either have to conclude an individual cable connection contract or switch to digital television alternatives.
If it is already clear to you that you definitely no longer want to watch cable TV, you can contact your landlord/landlady today and give notice of termination yourself with effect from 30 June.
If you want to keep cable TV, you should enquire about offers from your local cable provider in advance.
Tenants can choose any provider they like. There is no obligation to stay with the old provider. A comparison is worthwhile. There are reception methods such as TV streaming that offer more convenience and flexibility and may even be cheaper. However, it is usually not possible to change the cable provider as the regional cable network belongs to a specific provider.
If the cable connection is no longer used, it will probably be blocked by the cable provider. This is done either centrally for all flats in the house or via a so-called blocking socket exclusively in the affected flat.
If the apportionability is discontinued, it is basically only a matter of paying for the cable connection via the ancillary rental costs. The signal or cable will continue to exist. If you would like to continue to receive internet via cable after 1 July, but no longer your television, your cable provider may contact you. If you want to be on the safe side, you can also ask your cable provider in advance whether you have to pay a cable connection fee for your cable internet. In principle, it is no problem to receive only Internet (without TV) via cable these days. Simply install an appropriate filter box.
After 1 July 2024, tenants will no longer be entitled to the provision of cable TV by landlords. If the collective agreement is terminated by 30 June 2024 and tenants have not organised an alternative television option, TV reception via cable could theoretically no longer be possible from 1 July 2024.
The consumer advice centre in Germany assumes that a cable connection will become approx. 2-3 euros more expensive from July 2024. However, there are numerous alternative TV reception methods that are already significantly cheaper than cable TV. Experts also assume that cable providers will try to keep as many rented households as possible connected to cable TV with corresponding offers. The consumer advice centre therefore also warns against so-called door-to-door sales which may urge you to sign a new contract.
An alternative to cable TV is TV streaming, i.e. watching TV over the internet. Here you simply use your existing internet connection to receive your TV signal. With today's infrastructure, the internet bandwidth is usually sufficient to watch TV in the best picture quality and without interference. Other well-known alternatives are satellite television and DVB-T2, i.e. television via antenna.
With TV streaming apps such as Zattoo, you can watch TV easily and flexibly. All you need is an internet connection and you can watch TV anywhere, whether at home or on the move, on your TV, laptop or smartphone. Installation is very easy and you don't need any additional hardware such as a receiver. This saves you additional hardware costs and expensive set-up fees. With TV streaming, you also have the option to test the service for 30 days free of charge and can cancel at any time on a monthly basis without long contract periods.
The consumer advice centre warns against media consultants at the front door. Tenants should not let anyone into their home. According to the consumer advice centre, these so-called media consultants are freelance salespeople who work on behalf of the cable network operator and are paid on a commission basis. Don't let yourself be rushed into signing anything on the spot. Your cable TV will not be switched off overnight. For further information, please contact the consumer advice centre.
In order to protect consumers, the legislator grants a right of cancellation for such contracts concluded outside the business premises of the provider. Consumers must be made aware of this right of cancellation. Therefore, if such a contract has been signed, the " fine print" in particular should also be read. Consumers have a cancellation period of 14 days from the day the contract is concluded if the cancellation policy has been properly explained. The contract can be cancelled within this period without further justification. If consumers have not been informed about the right of cancellation or have not been informed correctly, they can even cancel for one year and 14 days. However, it is recommended to avoid such " door-to-door sales" as a matter of principle.
As of December 2023.
Zattoo expressly points out that the web content is for non-binding information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice within the meaning of the German Legal Advice Act (RBerG). Specific clarifications by legislators and case law may lead to changes.
Interview with lawyer and tenancy law expert Martina Niemeier-Greiner from the law firm Kuchenreuter, Dr Stangl, Alt Rechtsanwälte PartGmbB in Cham.
Online seminar "Tenancy law and the amendments to the Telecommunications Act" 5/2023 with lawyer Katharina Gündel
Consumer advice centre Germany
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy