Man wins court battle over loud footsteps

Germany's highest civil court ruled in favour of a man who swapped the carpet in his new apartment for parquet flooring, incurring the wrath of the retired couple who lived below him over his loud footsteps.

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps
Trouble at the top. Photo: DPA

The Federal Supreme Court (BGH), for whom no case seems too small, ruled that the neighbours bothered by the sound of reverberating footsteps on uncarpeted floors had to well, just grin and bear it.

The BGH ruled in line with a lower court's findings that the footfalls of the man who lived upstairs were within reasonable noise levels, as they fell within the official maximum level of footfall noise of 63 decibels.

For comparison, 60 decibels would be equivalent to normal conversation.

The plaintiffs and their neighbour were all residents of the Maritim complex, a 30-störy building complex with hotel rooms and 320 apartments in Travemünde, a town on the Baltic Sea.

The retired couple's lawyer argued before the court that the new neighbour should have left the carpet where it was, as it belonged to the posh building's character.

“The upscale amenities were binding,” he said.

But the BGH argued that the “special characteristics of the building” as a fancy, upmarket complex, were not enough to justify a ruling favoring carpeted floors.

“In addition, changing tastes in terms of preferred flooring speak against (ensuring) a permanent character for the building,” the court said.

As such, the court did not see it fit to force a carpet which was probably “chic in the 70s” on the plaintiff's neighbour, BGH judge Christina Stresemann said.

The defendant's lawyer also pointed out the the building complex already had 53 apartments with tiled, parquet, and laminated flooring.

The BGH's ruling is bound to disappoint renters hoping to bring their rents down by complaining about loud steps overhead.

SEE ALSO: Nine ways landlords and tenants fell out


Spain to give young mid-income earners €250 monthly rental allowance 

Spain’s Prime Minister announced on Tuesday his government will launch a housing scheme whereby 18 to 35 year olds who earn below €23,725 gross per year will be able to get a monthly discount of €250 off their rent.

Spain to give young mid-income earners €250 monthly rental allowance 
The average Spaniard leaves the nest at 29.5 years of age. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez made the announcement during an Urban Affairs Forum in the southern city of Seville, referring to it as a “special plan” aimed at ensuring the emancipation of young people in the country.

“We’re going to create a youth housing benefit of €250 per month for the next two years which will benefit young people between 18 and 35 years old with incomes below €23,725,” Sánchez stated, meaning that these tenants will be able to claim a maximum of €6,000 in total.

The most vulnerable families will receive extra state aid to cover “up to 40 percent” of their monthly rent.

The income limit of €23,725 gross earnings a year amounts to wages of around €1,500 net a month. 

According to a September survey by Spanish property engine Fotocasa, 62 percent of under 35s in Spain face financial obstacles when buying or renting a property.

“We’re going to allocate a public policy specifically to reduce the age of emancipation which is so unbearably high in our country, so that young people can have access to decent rental housing,” Spain’s PM explained. 

The average Spaniard leaves the nest at 29.5 years of age, the sixth latest bloomers in Europe, where the average age of emancipation is 26.2 years old.

Sánchez’s announcement comes just as the Spanish left-wing coalition government of PSOE and Unidas Podemos have agreed on Spain’s Housing Budget for 2022, although the new legislation still has to be approved by the Spanish Cabinet. 

This is likely to include new measures aimed at placing price caps on rentals in Spain, based on a price index put together by Spain’s Ministry of Transport and Urban Affairs.