To save energy, a housing association in Saxony turns off the hot water for hundreds of tenants at certain times of the day. Tenant associations do not consider this permissible – yet.

All of Germany is called upon to save energy, and one landlord in Saxony is getting serious. The Dippoldiswalde housing cooperative is now only providing hot water to hundreds of tenants at limited times of the day.

A notice announcing the corresponding energy saving measures to the tenants is currently attracting a great deal of attention in the social networks. “As already announced in the general meeting, we now have to save for the winter,” the letter said. Because of the rising gas and electricity prices, a maintenance company was commissioned to “adjust the operating times for heating and hot water at short notice”.

Hot water is therefore only available between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the evening. On weekends, the third shower window starts an hour earlier at 4 p.m. According to the notice, the heating will remain completely off until September.

“It’s not about bullying the tenants”

The restrictions have been in effect since July 1st and affect about half of the 600 apartments in the cooperative, explained board member Falk Kühn-Meisegeier to the MDR. These apartments would be heated with gas. “It’s not about bullying the tenants, but about adjusting to what we might not be able to pay for next year,” said Kühn-Meisegeier, according to MDR. “We don’t want our people to be scared next year when they look at their utility bills.” It is therefore better to limit yourself now.

In a Facebook post, the housing cooperative defends itself against all “haters” because of the sometimes violent reactions. Incidentally, they also want to produce electricity on their own roofs and give it to the members without paying a fee. A request to the cooperative as to whether the tenants were involved in the hot water decision initially went unanswered.

The restrictions are met with criticism from tenant representatives. The Saxon state association of the German Tenants’ Association considers the procedure to be incompatible with tenancy law. “According to current tenancy law, a 24-hour supply of hot water is required for a defect-free apartment,” says Florian Bau from the Saxon Tenants’ Association of MDR. He advises affected tenants who do not agree to write a letter to the cooperative and request that the defect be rectified. “Otherwise, they may be able to reduce the rent or enforce their rights with the help of the courts.”

Lowering the minimum temperatures?

The German Tenants’ Association writes on its website that landlords must “keep the central hot water supply in the apartment building running all year round, 24 hours a day”. One of the landlord’s contractual obligations is to “provide sufficient warm water with a minimum temperature of 40-50 degrees Celsius around the clock”.

According to the tenants’ association, when it comes to heating, during the heating period, “usually from October 1st to April 30th”, the central heating system must be set so that minimum temperatures of 20 to 22 degrees can be reached in the apartment. At night, the temperature is allowed to drop to 18 degrees.

These are the current rules. Due to the escalating situation with the gas supply, however, there is currently open discussion about asking tenants to do more. Among other things, the Federal Network Agency has suggested lowering the legally prescribed minimum temperature for apartments. The housing association GdW demands new minimum temperatures of 18 degrees during the day and 16 degrees at night in the event of a lack of gas.

And hot water restrictions, as in the Saxon excitement case, could also come to other private households in the future. The Hamburg Senator for the Environment, Jens Kerstan, explained at the weekend that if there is an acute gas shortage, warm water could only be made available at certain times of the day if necessary.