What information should a contract document contain?

What to look for in a contract with the nursing home

Those who move to a nursing home have in most cases fully informed themselves in advance and, after careful consideration, made the decision in favor of a specific nursing home. Before you can move to your dream home, you should sign the contract with the company. We'll show you what's important.

The law regulates what the contract should look like

The Housing and Care Contract Act regulates what exactly must be included in the contract with the care company. For the contract to be effective, it must contain information about

  • what services the nursing home operator provides
  • what costs the consumer has to pay
  • to what extent the pre-contractual information is included in the content of the contract
  • the extent to which the entrepreneur is willing or obliged to participate in dispute settlement proceedings before a consumer arbitration board

Information on the services

It is stipulated by law that the entrepreneur must list exactly which individual services the nursing home has to provide - even before you sign the contract. The so-called pre-contractual information must precisely list what the resident of a home can expect and demand. These include in particular:

  • the size of the living space provided and the equipment
  • the type and number of meals
  • the care and support services according to type, content and scope

It is up to him whether the nursing home operator expressly includes the pre-contractual information in the contract or only inserts a short reference. But: Even if the information is no longer explicitly included in the contract - by referring to the pre-contractual information, the nursing home operator is legally bound to it.

Deviations from the pre-contractual information

Should the entrepreneur deviate from the pre-contractual information, he must make this particularly clear in the contract - for example, by means of bold print or underlining. Although this is mandatory, it is not always easy to see that details have been changed.

Two examples:

example 1

The preliminary information with Alpha GmbH stated that palliative medical care would be guaranteed if required. Ms. Benz therefore decided in favor of this facility, it was a crucial point for her. The contract now says:

Deviating from the pre-contractual information, the entrepreneur is not obliged to ensure palliative medical care.

Example 2

Mr Moritz had decided on a room in BetreutWohnen GmbH because the pre-contractual information promised him a room with terrace access. The contract now says:

Deviating from the pre-contractual information, a room will be provided on the first floor.

We recommend reading the contract very carefully before signing it and checking whether there have been any deviations from the pre-contractual information.

Information on the costs

It must also be clear from the contract what costs will be incurred as a resident of the home. Residents only have to pay the agreed costs. The contract must therefore state both the total amount and the costs for individual services. Individual services are:

  • Nursing and / or support services
  • Living room
  • Catering
  • Capital expenditure
  • the apprenticeship fee / apprenticeship apportionment (does not apply to all federal states)
  • possibly additional services that you have agreed individually with the home

You can find more information about the costs in the nursing home in our corresponding article.

Reference to dispute settlement procedures before the consumer arbitration board

The care company must state in the contract to what extent it is willing and obliged to take part in dispute settlement proceedings before a consumer arbitration board. If the entrepreneur has undertaken to participate in an arbitration procedure, he must refer to the competent authority in the contract. The address and website of the consumer arbitration board must be given.

Security deposits

The nursing home operator may, under certain circumstances, demand a so-called security deposit. This corresponds roughly to the deposit that you leave with a tenancy. It is intended to protect the entrepreneur against possible damage. However, the law makes clear restrictions on who can be required to provide such a security. Anyone who receives benefits from the long-term care insurance fund or a social welfare institution does not need to provide a security deposit.

The care company can demand a deposit from private payers. It must not exceed twice the monthly salary and does not have to be paid all at once. You can either pay the amount in three monthly installments or provide a bank guarantee.

Be careful with declarations of liability

Caution is advised if a so-called declaration of assumption of liability or declaration of liability is attached to the contract documents. With this document, the home operator wants to oblige relatives to assume payment obligations if the home resident owes the amount. This practice happens again and again - the law does not clarify at this point in time whether this practice is lawful or not. We do not recommend signing such a declaration.

Contract duration

Maintenance contracts are usually concluded for an indefinite period, i.e. for an indefinite period. Anyone who has made the decision to give up their own apartment with a heavy heart will usually want to stay in the new environment permanently.

A time limit for contracts is possible if it is made in your interest. This is the case, for example, if you want to bridge a specific waiting period until a place is available in your dream home. In this case, it is possible and sensible to limit the contract with the care company.

How to enter into the contract

Maintenance contracts between you and the care company must be concluded in writing. That means: The contract must be in paper form and signed by both you and the entrepreneur. If you cannot sign it yourself, an authorized representative or a supervisor appointed by the court can also sign the contract. The nursing home operator is obliged to give you a copy of the contract.

The law does not specify by when the contract must be concluded. As a rule, however, it is assumed that each contracting party should have a signed copy in their hands on the day of the move-in at the latest.

In special situations, an exception can be made to the so-called written form requirement if it is in the interests of the consumer. This would be conceivable if you were prevented from signing the contract when the contract was concluded or if you had to move into the facility quickly and someone authorized to represent you could not be on site quickly enough to sign the contract before moving in. However, the contract must then be signed immediately.

However, if the written form is not made up or is missing, the contract does not become ineffective as a whole. Rather, contracts concluded orally are also effective. However, if the written form is missing, you have the right to terminate the contract without notice, i.e. you can terminate the contract at any time without observing a notice period. This right of termination exists until the written form is made up.

When you sign the contract for a loved one

In some situations, residents can no longer sign the contract themselves. For example, because you are no longer able to understand the content of the contract due to cognitive impairments in the case of dementia. In this case, family members who are authorized to represent or a supervisor usually sign the contract. If you are signing the contract for a relative, be sure to add "on behalf" to the signature. Without this addition, it looks like you are entering into the contract on your own behalf. You would then also be obliged to pay the fee.

So that there is no misunderstanding in the first place, you should make sure that the name of the resident is named as the contracting party in the contract and is accompanied by the addition "represented by his authorized representative / supervisor ...".

If it turns out afterwards that a nursing home resident was no longer legally competent when the contract was signed, special regulations apply. This can happen, for example, if the resident suffers from cognitive impairments (e.g. dementia). If people do not understand the consequences of the conclusion of a contract and cannot assess them, they are deemed to be incapable of doing business.

In principle, contracts with incapacitated persons are void from the start. That is, it is pretended that the contract never came about. However, if someone has already moved into a nursing home, that is not possible.

The Housing and Care Contract Act (WBVG) therefore solves this case differently. If a resident who is incapable of doing business has concluded a contract, it can be approved or dissolved by an authorized representative or a supervisor appointed by the court. Until a decision is made by the authorized representative or the supervisor, the contractual relationship "hovers" between effectiveness and ineffectiveness.