BVerfG: Development contributions not only after 25 years

Status: 11/24/2021 1:45 p.m.

Development contributions for roads or other infrastructure cannot be charged for an unlimited period of time. The Federal Constitutional Court thus rejected a regulation in Rhineland-Palatinate – it was unconstitutional.

Property owners are only allowed to share in the costs for a limited time after a road or other development facility has been built. A regulation that allows this to be done many years after the fact violates the requirement of clarity of the burden, announced the Federal Constitutional Court. The specific case concerned a regulation in Rhineland-Palatinate. This now has to be revised.

The Rhineland-Palatinate municipal tax law provides for a four-year limitation period that only begins to run when the road is dedicated. According to the decision of the constitutional judges, this is not permitted. The decisive factor must therefore be the point in time at which the benefit arises for the individual property owner. This is recognizable for those affected. Nobody should be left in the long run in the dark whether burdens can still be expected – this is required by the rule of law that the burden is clear and predictable.

70,000 euros demanded after 25 years

The Federal Administrative Court initiated the examination of the state regulation. The case of an owner is pending there who is supposed to pay so-called development contributions in the amount of more than 70,000 euros. His land in an industrial park had a road connection as early as 1986. However, he did not receive the final notification until 2011. The road was completed in full and officially dedicated to public transport in 2007.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, a new regulation must now be found by the end of July 2022. Until then, courts and administrative authorities are no longer allowed to apply the unconstitutional norm. All property owners in the state whose notices on the development contributions are not yet final will benefit from the change.

No specific upper limit mentioned

The judges of the First Senate did not make a specific specification for the maximum time limit. The legislature has a lot of leeway here. A period of 30 years, as some courts had previously derived from the Administrative Procedure Act, is clearly too long for them.

As stated in the decision, other federal states have mostly opted for deadlines of ten to 20 years. Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia are mentioned. In other countries there is no express regulation.

State of Rhineland-Palatinate wants to wait for the reason

The owners’ association Haus & Grund Germany welcomed the decision. “It cannot be that property owners or their legal successors will still be confronted decades after a development measure by the community with sometimes very high contribution demands,” said President Kai Warnecke. Due to the late survey, it also remains unclear whether it was actually a maintenance measure. “The municipality should not transfer this to the owners at all.”

After the judgment, the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of the Interior announced that it would wait for the written reasoning before taking any further steps. This will be examined and then the Ministry will comment on it if necessary.

New construction areas are first connected to the public infrastructure, in existing areas the infrastructure is improved if necessary. This includes the pipes for water, sewage, gas, electricity and, if necessary, district heating as well as the public road network including street lighting. The costs for this are passed on to the property owners by the municipalities through the development contributions. A prerequisite for this is a formal “dedication” of the development.

File number: 1 BvL 1/19

With information from Bernd Wolf, ARD legal editor

Constitutional Court: Development contributions must be limited in time

Bernd Wolf, SWR, 24.11.2021 · 13:21

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