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Living space calculation: How big is my apartment?

Put on the folding rule and let's go? It's not that easy with the living space calculation. We will show you how to correctly calculate the living space of your apartment and why it is sometimes even smaller than specified in the rental agreement.

  1. This is why it is worth doing the calculations for the total living space
  2. Calculation of living space according to the living space ordinance
  3. Correctly measure the living space under sloping ceilings
  4. Calculation of living space for balconies
  5. Does the basement also belong to the apartment?
  6. You can do this if the living space was calculated incorrectly

The rental agreement often only contains a number of square meters, which gives you information about the size of the rented apartment. However, it usually does not reveal the basis on which the living space calculation was carried out. It is not uncommon for this to lead to a dispute between the tenant and the landlord if, during the subsequent measurement, it is found that the total living space specified in the rental agreement is incorrect and the rent is too high.

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You can find out whether a square meter or two has been cheated on in your apartment and how big your apartment really is by measuring yourself. So that you can calculate balcony areas, basement and hobby rooms as well as areas under sloping ceilings correctly, we offer you an overview of how to proceed and give tips on measuring.

This is why it is worth doing the calculations for the total living space

The total living space is not always calculated in favor of the tenant. If the rental agreement contains too many square meters, the landlord may have calculated the living space using DIN 277. Basement rooms, balconies, boiler rooms, garages and areas under sloping ceilings are then considered one hundred percent as living space, regardless of the height of the room. This can result in deviations of up to 40 percent.

Unless otherwise agreed in the rental contract, you can always use the Living Space Ordinance (WoFlV), which has been in force since 2004, as the basis for calculation.

Calculation of living space according to the living space ordinance

If the living space ordinance is used as the basis for calculation, then, unlike in DIN 277, the floor space is not identical to the living space:

  • Areas below slopes or stairs do not count in part or in part of the living space.
  • Balconies, terraces and loggias are usually included in a quarter of the area, at most up to half.
  • Basement rooms, a laundry room, boiler rooms and garages do not count towards the living space.
  • Unheated winter gardens and swimming pools only count with half of their floor space, heated ones 100 percent.
  • Door, window and wall niches only count if they reach the floor and are at least 13 centimeters deep.
  • Chimneys, pillars and columns do not count as living space if they are higher than 1.50 meters and their floor area is more than 0.1 square meters.

If you calculate a different number of square meters than specified in the rental agreement according to the WoFlV, this can have the following effects:

  • The operating costs change.
  • The rent changes, you may be able to reduce it if too much living space has been calculated.
  • You can expect possible repayments of overpaid rent (if the area deviates by more than ten percent).

For the sake of completeness, two other calculation methods should also be mentioned here: DIN 283 (abolished since 1983) and the second calculation regulation. However, it can still be valid if no structural measures have been taken in your apartment after December 31, 2003. You should definitely keep this in mind when doing the calculations.

Recalculate the living space yourself with plumb bob and laser

If you start measuring yourself, care is required. Stiftung Warentest therefore recommends measuring simply cut apartments with a plumb line and laser, not with a folding rule or yardstick. Inaccuracies quickly arise here, as you have to start the folding rule again after two meters.

You have to include window and door panels, frame borders, skirting, skirting and skirting strips in the calculation. That means you have to put the folding rule or the laser rangefinder above or next to the panels and strips.

Correctly measure the living space under sloping ceilings

If you have sloping ceilings in your apartment, it is also worth taking measurements here. Because: Areas that are under sloping ceilings are sometimes not included in the living space calculation. According to WoFlV, you can make the following deductions for surfaces that are under inclines:

  • Areas with a clear room height of less than one meter may be counted towards 0 percent.
  • Areas with a clear room height of between one meter and two meters are eligible for 50 percent.
  • Areas with a clearance height of two meters or more can be counted towards 100 percent

Calculation of living space for balconies

The calculation of your total living space can in principle be based on the four calculation methods mentioned. They all produce different results. In the case of a balcony area, for example, this means that it is either not added to the total living area or is added up to 100 percent.

In general, however, the WoFlV also applies here, according to which balconies make up 25 and a maximum of 50 percent of the total living space. You can find more information about the living space calculation of balconies in our article Living space calculation balcony - how much does the living space include ?.

Does the basement also belong to the apartment?

According to WoFlV, basements are not part of the living space, which is why you can disregard them in the calculation. However, if the landlord chooses DIN 277 as the basis for the calculation, he will count the basement as a so-called "usable area" to 100 percent, which you can then proceed against.

You can read about whether a hobby room also belongs to the living space in this article: "Calculating the living space in the basement: How much belongs to the living space".

You can do this if the living space was calculated incorrectly

If you found out during the re-measurement: The apartment is much smaller than stated in the rental agreement, you as a tenant can reduce the rent accordingly and even claim back overpaid payments from the past. According to the German Tenants' Association, this is possible if the area deviates by more than ten percent.

The Federal Court of Justice (file number VIII ZR 295/03, VIII ZR 133/03 or VIII ZR 192/03) has already passed several judgments. As a rule, the BGH decides on the basis of the WoFlV, which has been in force since 2004, i.e. for the tenant.

You don't trust yourself to calculate your living space? Then you can also get help from an architect, civil engineer or an expert. This is usually consulted if the dispute about the specified living space ends up in court.