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Rental contract cancellation

  • 8 min read

Key Points

  • For a rental contract cancellation in Germany, tenants typically must provide written notice, typically three months in advance.
  • An inspection of the apartment is usually required before moving out.
  • An extraordinary cancellation is only possible for a “good reason”.
  • Tenants must deregister their residence with local authorities and cancel utilities and broadcasting fees.

Cancelling a rental agreement in Germany

Summary: The rental contract cancellation is only effective if it is made in writing. As a rule, tenants are subject to a statutory notice period of three months. However, a shorter notice period can also be agreed in the tenancy agreement. To comply with the notice period, the notice of termination must be received by the landlord/landlady by the third working day of the month. There must be sufficient grounds for termination without notice. If the rent is increased, the tenant has a special right of termination.

What do I need to include in my notice of cancellation of the rental agreement?

The cancellation of the rental agreement is only valid in writing, so you cannot cancel by email, fax, or WhatsApp. However, in order to properly terminate your tenancy agreement, you must also pay attention to some important aspects.

In order to legally cancel your flat, the cancellation letter should contain the following information:

  • Landlord’s address
  • Date of cancellation
  • Address of the rented flat with floor
  • Request to the landlord to confirm the cancellation (however, there is no entitlement to confirmation from the landlord)
  • Request to contact the landlord to arrange a handover date
  • Signature of all main tenants

Important: Also note whether you want to terminate with or without notice. If you observe the agreed notice period, it is ordinary termination. The tenant does not have to give reasons. The landlord, on the other hand, must always give reasons for terminating the tenancy. In the case of termination without notice, both the tenant and the landlord must give a reasonable and understandable reason for the termination.

When do I have to cancel my rental contract?

The cancellation letter must be received by your landlord by the third working day of the month. For example: If you send your notice to your landlord on 3 September (the third working day), your tenancy will end on 30 November. The date of receipt, not the postmark, is the relevant date.

Tip: To ensure that your landlord receives the notice, we recommend that you send it by registered post. This will give you proof that your landlord has received it.

Are individual notice periods allowed in the rental agreement?

Generally, the statutory notice period is three months. However, exceptions are possible: Tenant and landlord can agree an individual period of notice in the tenancy contract. However, this is only valid if it is less than three months. A longer period of notice would be more restrictive for the tenant, and therefore to their detriment.

Can I give notice of termination before the end of the rental period?

Landlords often include a waiver of notice – also known as a “Kündigungsverzicht or “Kündigungsausschluss”- in their tenancy agreements. With this clause, the tenant waives their normal right to terminate the lease for two years. However, the waiver is only valid if it applies to both the tenant and the landlord.

Tip: You are still entitled to terminate the rental agreement without giving notice for good cause. But this must be a good reason under § 543 BGB, for example, a fault with the property.

When do tenants have a right to special or extraordinary cancellation?

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

If the terms of your tenancy change, there are certain circumstances in which you, as a tenant, may be able to use your right to extraordinary termination. For example, if major renovations are planned or if the landlord has announced a rent increase.

In this case, you can give notice by the end of the following month and terminate the tenancy with effect from the month after next. Let’s say, for example, that your landlord informs you of a refurbishment in March. In this case, you can give notice to terminate your tenancy in April, with effect from 31 May.

The notice period for a tenancy agreement is usually three months. You must respect this period if the tenancy agreement is for a fixed term. There are few exceptions for extraordinary termination.

Suppose a tenant has signed a contract for a certain period and is offered a job abroad. In such a case, the tenant will typically have the right to be released from his or her obligations earlier than in the contract.

The main requirement for extraordinary termination is that the tenant has an “important reason” for wanting to be released from the contract early. This is only the case if the interests of both parties have been considered in the specific case.

Good cause is deemed to be justified if the Tenant cannot reasonably be expected to continue to live in the rented property. This is almost always the case if the other party has behaved in a way that destroys the basis of trust. A change of job is therefore not a valid reason to justify an extraordinary rental contract cancellation, as the landlord has no control over your choice of job.

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Are there special notice periods in the event of a separation?

In principle, there is no right to a special notice period for the rental contract cancellation in the event of a separation:

This means that you must comply with the statutory notice period of three months. If you have a joint tenancy agreement, you must also terminate it jointly.

Tip: If you are moving out, try to talk to your landlord. You may be able to find an amicable solution and end your tenancy earlier.

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

There is a special right to rental contract cancellation in the event of the death of a tenant. It depends on the tenancy situation of the deceased:

  • If the tenant lived alone, the tenancy is transferred to their heirs. They can terminate the tenancy without notice within one month, but must still comply with the legal and contractual notice period.
  • If several people have rented the property, the tenancy agreement remains in force. If only one spouse is a tenant, the tenancy agreement is automatically transferred to the surviving spouse in the event of death.

Important: The tenancy agreement remains in force after the death of the tenant and can only be terminated in writing.

Can I cancel a rental contract early with a new tenant?

Many tenants look for a new tenant on their own to avoid double rent payments after a cancellation and to get out of the tenancy agreement earlier.

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

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If you are moving abroad or there has been a death in the family, you can easily save money by selling, donating or disposing of items you no longer need.

If you would rather not do this yourself, you can hire a clearance company. Many moving companies also offer decluttering services, and some even specialize in this.

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Be careful!

When hiring a removal company, crossing international borders into so-called “third countries” (non-EU countries) can lead to unpredictable costs that cannot be calculated in advance. These include waiting times for loading and unloading, exchange rate fluctuations, changes in paraffin and oil prices and waiting times for customs clearance.

For this reason, additional costs to the original quote are inevitable in these cases. However, reputable international moving companies will inform you in advance of such unforeseen costs.

What else to consider

You will also need to deregister, re-register or cancel any contracts relating to the property. These include:

  • Gas, water, electricity
  • landline telephone, internet
  • Radio license fee
  • Newspaper/magazine subscriptions
  • Car deregistration
  • Insurance, such as household or contents insurance
  • Forwarding requests to the post office or digital mailbox

We can help you with these tasks with our convenient online tools and services.

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.

Image sources:

  1. Deborah Cortelazzi / Unsplash
  2. Lonut Vlad / Unsplash
  3. Brandable Boxes / Unsplash
  4. Herbert Marchesi / Unsplash
Anne

Anne

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