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Terminating my rental apartment

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Quit an apartment in Germany

The termination of a rental apartment is only valid in written form. As a rule, a statutory notice period of three months applies to tenants. However, a shorter period may be agreed upon in the lease. To meet the deadline, the landlord must receive the notice of termination by the third working day of a month. There must be sufficient grounds for termination without notice. In the event of a rent increase, the tenant has a special right of termination. Maybe the blog posts about leaving Germany, household liquidation, or moving internationally can help you as well!

What must I include in my termination notice of the lease?
The tenant and landlord can agree on an individual notice period in the lease

What must I include in my termination notice of the lease?

The lease termination is only valid in written form, so you cannot give notice via e-mail, fax or WhatsApp. However, to properly terminate your rental agreement, you must also consider some aspects of the content.

To legally terminate your apartment, the termination letter should contain the following information:

  • Address of the landlord
  • Date of termination
  • Address of the rented apartment with floor
  • Request the landlord to confirm the termination (However, there is no right to confirmation by the landlord).
  • Notice to contact the landlord to arrange a handover date
  • Signature of all main tenants

Important: Also record the form of termination – ordinary or without notice. If you comply with the agreed notice period, it is an ordinary notice of termination. Tenants do not have to give reasons. On the other hand, the landlord must always disclose his motives for terminating the lease. In the case of termination without notice, both tenant and landlord must provide an appropriate and understandable reason for the termination.

Send the letter of termination in good time

The termination letter must be received by your landlord no later than the third business day. For example: If you submit your notice to your landlord on September 3 (the third business day), your lease will end on November 30. It is not the postmark but the time of receipt that is decisive for compliance with the deadline.

Tip: To ensure that your landlord receives the notice of termination, we recommend sending it via registered mail. This way, you have proof that your landlord received it.

Are personalized periods of notice allowed in the rental agreement? 

In principle, a statutory notice period of three months applies. However, exceptions are possible: Tenant and landlord can agree on an individual notice period in the lease. However, this is only valid if it is shorter than three months. A more extended notice period would restrict the tenant and disadvantage him accordingly.

Is it possible to terminate a lease despite the exclusion of notice?

Landlords often include a waiver of notice – also known as an exclusion notice – in their rental agreements. With this clause, the tenant waives his ordinary right of termination for two years. However, the termination exclusion is only valid if it applies to both tenant and landlord. You still have the right to terminate the tenancy within this period without notice for a good cause. However, there must be an important reason for this under § 543 BGB, such as a rental defect. 

There is a special right of termination in the event of the death of a tenant
There is a special right of termination in the event of the death of a tenant

Do special periods of notice apply to apartments in the event of separation?

What happens, for example, to a joint rental agreement in the event of separation? In principle, there is no right to the special notice of termination in the event of a breakup: You must observe the statutory notice period of three months. In addition, if you have a joint rental agreement, you must terminate it jointly.

Tip: In the event of a separation, try to talk to your landlord. In this way, you may be able to find an amicable solution and possibly terminate the lease earlier.

Is there a shortened notice period in the event of the tenant’s death? 

There is a special right of termination in the event of the death of a tenant. It depends on the rental situation of the deceased: 

  • If the tenant lived alone, the tenancy passes to their heirs. These can terminate the tenancy extraordinarily within one month but must still adhere to the legal and contractually agreed notice period.
  • If several persons have rented the apartment, the tenancy remains in force.
  • If only one spouse is the tenant and dies, the tenancy automatically passes to the still alive spouse.

Important: The rental agreement is legally valid even after the tenant’s death and can only be terminated in writing.

When are tenants entitled to the special notice of termination?

If the conditions of the tenancy change, you as a tenant can make use of your special right of termination under certain circumstances. For example, if extensive renovations are planned or if the landlord wants to 

rent increase announced. In this case, you can give notice until the end of the following month and terminate the tenancy as of the month after next. For example, suppose your landlord informs you in March about a modernization. In that case, you can terminate your tenancy in April with May 31.

Can I terminate my apartment before the start of the lease?
A job change is not a valid reason to justify an extraordinary termination

Can I terminate my apartment before the start of the lease?

Yes, tenants can also terminate their lease before starting the rental period. You can terminate the lease with three months’ notice before receiving the keys or moving in.

Caution: In some leases, termination before the start of the lease is excluded. In this case, you can only terminate the lease from the beginning of the tenancy.

Can I get out of the lease sooner, thanks to a new tenant?

Many tenants start looking for a new tenant independently to avoid double rent payments after a lease termination and get out of the lease sooner.

But be careful: the landlord does not have to get involved. Tenants can only propose a new tenant and end the lease earlier if the lease contains a new tenant clause.

Canceling an apartment because of a job change abroad – What is the legal situation?

Anyone with a temporary rental contract who wants to take up a new job abroad will probably want to terminate the agreement as soon as possible. However, this is not possible without further ado. Tenants need an “important reason” to give extraordinary notice of termination. Alternatively, the loss of the basis of the business or individual agreements with the landlord may justify extraordinary termination. An essential prerequisite is that the job change is not on the tenant’s initiative. Exemptions often apply to old leases from before 2001.

Extraordinary notice of termination only with “good cause”

Notice periods for a rental agreement are usually three months. You must observe this fixed period if a rental agreement has been agreed upon for a certain period. There are hardly any exceptions for extraordinary termination. Suppose a tenant has signed a contract for a particular duration and is offered a job abroad. In that case, he usually wants to be released from his obligation earlier than agreed. However, the legislator sets high hurdles for this.

The essential requirement for extraordinary termination is that the tenant must give an “important reason” for wanting to be released from the contract early. Such a reason only exists in the interests of both contracting parties and has been weighed up in the specific individual case. The tenant cannot reasonably be expected to continue the tenancy. It is almost exclusively the case if there is misconduct on the other contracting party that destroys the basis of trust. Therefore, a job change is not a valid reason to justify extraordinary termination since the landlord does not influence your job.

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Please keep in mind that we do our best to provide credible and up-to-date information, but we are not an official advisor (in the sense of the Legal Services Act, RDG) for taxes, legal matters, and the like. Our service does not replace an individual consultation with legal assistance, and we provide digital tools and automated workflows to assist with the residence deregistration and related necessary steps.

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Anne grows company awareness threw various online/ social media channels. Further to this, she manages editorial planning and execution.