Minimum period, notice period &. Co .: No more endless contract traps

You have a gym contract, a streaming deal or a magazine subscription, but now you really want out of the contract. But you still have to wait months for the end because the contract was recently automatically extended by one year? Or have you relaxed the notice period and are now stuck in the contract loop for another twelve months? Something like this has probably happened to everyone.

Since March 1, 2022, the new law on fair consumer contracts has protected customers from such unintended extended terms. It saves nerves – and above all money. What new conditions apply now:

Automatic contract renewal: one month notice period

So far, many contracts that have been entered into have been automatically extended for another year without active consent if the contract was not terminated in good time. Definitely: an attempt by the providers to tie the customers to themselves. “In the future, tacit contract extensions in terms and conditions will only be allowed for many contracts if the contract is extended indefinitely and consumers receive a notice of termination of no more than one month,” the consumer advice writes regarding. its website.

In short, it means: “After the first contract period has expired, you can withdraw from the contract, if you wish, within one month of receiving your notice.”

According to NRW’s Consumer Advice Center, the changes apply to contracts for regular deliveries of goods or fixed services or work entered into after 1 March 2022: for example, dance, music or tutoring courses and membership in fitness studios. Insurance contracts are exempt.

New notice period does not apply to old contracts

But beware, there is a catch: The improved terms only apply to new contracts from March 1st. For older contracts, the contract is automatically extended for up to one year if you do not write the notice in good time.

Do customers now have to terminate their old contracts to enter into a new one with an improved term? Lawyer from AZ says lawyer Carolin Semmler from North Rhine-Westphalia’s Consumer Advice Center: “It is important to look at each case and not make a hasty decision: because with a new contract, consumers are again bound to the minimum contract period.” In other words, before you can easily get out of the contract after a month, you must have it for the agreed minimum period.

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According to Semmler, the terms of the new contract, such as the exact range of services and the overheads, should be carefully examined and compared with the old contract before termination and a new contract.

The usual minimum period for concluding the contract remains unchanged

The innovation does not change anything in the often usual minimum contract period after conclusion. It usually stays for two years.

Are there alternatives? According to Semmler, before signing the contract, one should check whether there are also shorter contract terms. “Especially if you are not sure whether you will actually use the contract for that long, a shorter contract period can pay off – even if it is sometimes a little more expensive.”

New notice periods

Previously, the notice period was usually three months before the contract expired. If you miss this: mishap. There is now a new deadline of just one month before the expiry of the initial contract period. However, as Semmler confirms to AZ, this only applies to new contracts from March 1, 2022.

Different rules for telephone contracts

The new regulation has been in force since 1 December 2021 for both landline agreements and mobile phone agreements, and here for both new and existing contracts.

Why is there a different rule for communication contracts? Semmler explains to AZ: “With the legislative changes in the Telecommunications Act, the legislature has not made any transitional rules. This means that the new rules also apply to existing contracts.”

On the other hand, transitional rules have been introduced as part of the law on reasonable consumer contracts, which is now coming into force. Article 229, paragraph 60 of the Preliminary Code of Civil Procedure expressly states that the old rules still apply to contracts concluded before 1 March 2022. “As far as I know, the legislature has not given a reason for this different treatment,” he said. Bags for AZ.

Easy termination of contracts online

Anyone who enters into a contract on the Internet will be able to terminate it more easily in the future. This regulation will enter into force later this year, to be exact on 1 July. From then on, “permanent obligations” will be subject to the obligation to have a cancellation button, with which consumers can get rid of their contracts without much searching and letter writing.

The good news: “The rules also apply to contracts created before that date,” according to the Consumer Advice Center’s website.

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