Claims are subject to the statute of limitations. After expiry of the limitation period, the claim can no longer be enforced. Claims from contracts notarised by a notary can therefore also become time-barred.
Applicable limitation periods
Claims from enforceable deeds are subject to a 30-year limitation period, § 197 BGB.
However, not all claims arising from a notarial deed of sale are enforceable. This only applies to those claims that are provided with a so-called enforcement clause in the deed.
A typical enforcement clause reads as follows: because of the aforementioned claim, the seller submits to immediate execution against his assets. A typical example is the obligation to pay the regular housekeeping fee in a purchase contract for a condominium. Here, in practically every deed, the buyer submits to immediate execution against his property because of the regular house money.
Ten-year limitation period for claims relating to the property
According to § 196 of the German Civil Code (BGB), claims for the transfer of ownership of a property as well as the claims for consideration shall become statute-barred after ten years. The same applies to the acquisition of ownership of a heritable building right or a condominium. As a rule, the claim to the consideration is the claim to payment of the purchase price.
Suspension of the statute of limitations
It is often overlooked that the limitation period is suspended in some practically important cases. During the period of suspension, the limitation period does not run. The most important case is the suspension through negotiations, during legal proceedings and during the existence of a marriage between the spouses.
Restart of the limitation period upon acknowledgement
In the event of acknowledgement, the limitation period shall begin anew. Acknowledgement may already be constituted by the fact that a partial payment is made on a claim. Otherwise, an acknowledgement is usually also given if the creditor is only being held up without contesting the justification of the claim per se.
Conclusions for the real estate purchase agreement
The most important application case for the real estate purchase contract are craftsmen’s services, which have been performed not too long ago at the time of notarisation of the contract. The regular period of limitation for warranty claims arising from craftsmen’s services is five years for property-related services (two years for technical repair work). In order to exclude the risk of limitation, the buyer should not only have the claims against the tradesmen assigned to him, but should also obtain assurances from the seller regarding the course of the limitation periods.
Legal advice on the purchase of property in Germany
I offer you affordable legal advice in English language in connection with the purchase of a property in Germany. I check the notarial draft of the purchase contract for you. You will find further details and useful links on the page Advice on German Real Estate Law