A German court has agreed that the owner of an apartment should be able to evict her tenant over his smoking habits. However, the ruling maintained that people did have a basic right to smoke in their own homes.
The district court in Düsseldorf on Wednesday said that it should be possible for an apartment landlady to evict the 75-year-old tenant, Friedhelm Adolfs, because of his smoking.
The court said that, according to contractual practice, a person renting a flat should have a basic right to smoke in their own home. However, it added that others should not be expected to endure an "unacceptable and intolerable odor."
The verdict followed a complaint from the landlady of a multiple occupancy building, who said the smoke been a problem for the man's neighbors. The landlady complained that the man had been letting smoke into the stairwell of the building, rather than allowing it to escape through open windows.
Adolfs had worked as a janitor at the building for 36 years, until 2009, with the apartment coming as part of the job. From 2009, he rented it under a normal contract.
He denied that he had willingly allowed the smoke into the other parts of the building, claiming there was nothing he could do to prevent it.
Adolfs claimed that he was being forced to leave the apartment so that the owner could demand a higher rent for the property. He said that there had been more smoke previously, his deceased wife having also smoked in the flat.
Although the court ruled that the eviction should be possible, the eviction notice must still be confirmed before it can become legally binding, with the tenant having a right of appeal.
Since news of the case became public, Adolfs has become something of a symbolic figure for pro-smoking groups in Germany. Sympathizers even raised money to fund his side of the court costs.
rc/tj (AFP, dpa)