Know the difference between living area and usable space
It often happens that the actual area of a property deviates from the square footage stated in the purchase or rental agreement. For this reason, it can be worthwhile to take a precise measurement yourself or to have a professional floor space calculation carried out by an appraiser . There are several methods for doing this, but it is advisable to use the living area ordinance as a guide. In legal disputes, it usually forms the basis for determining the living area of a property.
Living area definition
The definition of a living area includes all rooms in an apartment or house. Special rules apply to areas not located directly in the living area, such as balconies, cellars or terraces, which, depending on the calculation method, are completely, partially, or not at all included in the calculation. The total area results from the sum of the chargeable floor areas of the property. There are various calculation methods for calculating the living area. The possible results that you get when you calculate the area of a property are correspondingly different. A special case is the living area with sloping ceilings, because if you live in an attic flat, you have less space due to the sloping walls. For this reason, according to the Living Space Ordinance in Germany, the area is only fully included in the calculation from a room height of two metres. If the room height is less than one metre, it is not taken into account at all; if it is between these two limits, half of the area is taken into account.
How to calculate gross living area
The gross living area calculation according to DIN standard 277 is based on the floor area and volume in building construction. It is considered advantageous for owners because it achieves the maximum possible living area result. With this approach, balconies, cellars, terraces and roof areas are also factored in with their full area. As a result, this method often results in a significantly higher number of areas, especially in attic apartments, than with other measurement methods. The area is calculated on the basis of the internal dimensions (so-called clear dimensions) between the respective components of the front edge of the wall cladding.
Gross living area vs usable space
It is advisable to specify the calculation method for the area in the purchase or rental agreement. The living area calculation according to the Living Area Ordinance (WoFlV in Germany), which provides a measurement of usable space, is usually cheaper for tenants or buyers, as this results in a smaller area and a correspondingly lower rental or purchase price. Landlords or owners, on the other hand, benefit more from the variant in accordance with DIN standard 277, which calcualtes the gross living area. If nothing is regulated in the contract, the courts usually use the WoFlV as a basis. It has been the calculation method of choice since 2004 in Germany. Buyers also often have to carry out a professional living area calculation if they want to apply for financing. A living area calculation for the bank provides information about how to assess the profitability of the property.
Incorrect living area: your rights as a buyer
Anyone who finds after the purchase of a property that the area of the property deviates from the information in the contract has the option of being reimbursed part of the purchase price. The amount of the living area deviation is not important here. The prerequisite for this is that the seller has assured a guarantee in the contract for the quality of the property in the form of a specific number of square footage or meters. There is also the option of withdrawing from the contract completely. In addition, claims for damages can sometimes be asserted. There is no need for conscious deception for this, and unconscious false information is sufficient as a reason for a claim for damages.
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