How Can You Terminate A Lease Agreement in Germany?

various housing in Germany.

You are renting an apartment in Germany and thinking to terminate the lease? Luckily, it’s possible to end your rental agreement in Germany. In general, the termination must be done three months before the moving-out date.

To terminate an apartment lease, a tenant must write a letter to the landlord and send it in written form with a three-month notice. If the lease states a shorter notice period, the tenant may give notice within this period. The landlord must receive the notice no later than on the third working day of a month.

When moving out of the apartment, you should consider many things, including the search for a new one and the termination of the current. In this article, we explain how you can terminate your lease in Germany, which rights tenants have as well as rules one should follow.

Termination of lease agreement in Germany

The main rules when terminating an apartment lease in Germany are:

  1. As a tenant, you must give three months’ notice – no matter how long you have lived in the apartment.
  2. You must give notice by the third working day of a month at the latest so that this month still counts towards the notice period.
  3. Your termination letter must be written, signed and sent by mail.
  4. Landlords can not terminate the apartment lease without a significant reason. The notice periods for the landlord also depend on the length of the tenancy. It will range from three to nine months.

If you are experiencing any problems with your landlord, read this article.

Which lease agreement do you have?

Before you do start your search for a new apartment or make any announcements to the landlord, look at your lease agreement. There you will see if some particular termination period is mentioned and whether the lease can be terminated at all.

Therefore, the termination possibility and deadlines in Germany will depend on the type of lease agreement that you have.

Unlimited lease agreement

A rental lease that has no specified end date is known as “unbefristeter mietvertrag“ in Germany. With such an agreement, the standard rule of three months quitting period applies. The termination is permitted overall.

Therefore, tenants have the right to terminate an unlimited contract whenever they want, but they must inform the landlord via a written letter with three months’ notice.

Limited lease agreement

The limited lease agreement includes a fixed rental period. Thus, termination rules are different in that case.

In Germany, neither the landlord nor the tenant can easily terminate such a lease. Early ordinary termination of a fixed-term lease isn’t possible by law. The same applies if the tenant has signed a waiver of termination.

The waiver of termination is valid for a maximum of four years. 

If you want to move out earlier than the date on your fixed-term lease, you can still do it by concluding a sublease with another tenant.

To do it, your landlord must give his agreement. Otherwise, you can get in trouble, especially when a sublease isn’t mentioned or isn’t permitted in the rental agreement.

The termination of a limited lease contract can also be made by agreeing with the landlord (if you got a nice one). In that case, you can just set a move-out date and terminate the contract by writing a termination letter.

Otherwise, a tenant can get out of a limited lease agreement by giving an extraordinary notice of termination. This can only be done due to some serious reasons.

This can include, for example, renovation of the apartment, an increase in the rent, and others (read under extraordinary termination).

Ordinary termination vs. extraordinary termination in Germany

a picture of family of 3 who just recently move to a new house.

In Germany, you can end your contract through normal (ordinary) or extraordinary termination.

Ordinary termination

Ordinary termination is known as “ordentliche Kündigung” which happens with a normal notice period of 3 months. Sometimes you can end your rental agreement earlier if something else is stated in the contract.

This means that tenants have a notice period of 3 months to terminate an open-ended lease. You must inform the landlord at the latest on the third working day of the notice period.

Extraordinary termination

Both tenant and landlord may end the rental lease via an extraordinary termination “außerordentliche Kündigung“. In that case, termination without notice is possible.

There must be a significant reason for extraordinary termination. The same applies when a landlord is terminating the contract – it’s only possible in critical cases, such as infringing the landlord’s rights or not paying rent for two months or more.

For a tenant, extraordinary circumstances under which you can end the contract include dangerous living conditions.

In that case, the three months’ notice doesn’t apply, but you must clearly describe the exceptional circumstances in the written letter.

Consequently, you can use extraordinary termination and terminate the agreement earlier than 3 months in the following situations:

1. Rent increase: In the event of a rent increase, you, as the tenant, have a special right of termination. Read our guide about rent increase in Germany.

2. Renovation of the apartment: If your landlord announces a serious renovation of the apartment that will significantly disturb you, you can terminate the contract earlier than 3 months.

However, minor renovations don’t shorten the notice period.

3. Health hazard: If an apartment can cause a tenant any health hazard, especially by having mold or decay in it, the lease agreement can be terminated earlier.

Moreover, the notice period doesn’t apply at all, and you can move out at any time.

4. Death of another tenant: In case there is more than one tenant, and one has died, the lease can be terminated under a normal notice period. Hence, even limited rental agreements can be ended earlier.

Other reasons for extraordinary termination include:

  • Serious insult, threat, or physical violence
  • Long time disturbance by noise
  • Unauthorized entry into the apartment by the landlord
  • Insufficient heating or too much moisture

If you want to make an extraordinary termination without notice for one of the mentioned reasons, you must give a landlord some time to fix a problem beforehand.

Whether you are still planning to rent this place or look for another one, you must have general liability insurance in your name. It will protect you from debt related to any property.

It will cover all damages and issues which happen within the 4 walls of a rented apartment.

Rental laws in Germany

apartment building in Germany.

Germany has solid tenancy laws that primarily benefit tenants rather than landlords. This can be good or bad news for you, depending on which side you are on.

Besides that, it’s quite difficult and, in many cases, impossible for landlords to terminate the lease.

Also, when terminating the rental lease as a tenant, you must follow some formalities, as we spoke before.

Tenant rights

As a tenant in Germany, you can enjoy many rights, and the law will be on your side in most cases.

Protection from eviction

Firstly, in Germany, it’s very hard for a landlord to terminate a rental agreement with a tenant or to evict them in some way. Even if there is an important reason for a landlord to end your lease, you can be sure it won’t happen that fast.

Therefore, every tenant in Germany is protected by the legal notice of contract termination of at least 3 months. Moreover, the longer you reside in the apartment, the longer the notice period becomes.

Get your rental deposit back

To rent an apartment or even a room in Germany, you will need to pay a deposit to the landlord. Usually, it consists of 2-3 amounts of rent. This money will cover any damages you might cause during your stay in the rental property.

At the end of the lease agreement, you have the right to get your money back! I have heard of many cases when landlords hold the deposit or take a part of it.

But if you are sure that you haven’t done any damage to the apartment or it wasn’t your fault, you can absolutely claim your deposit back.

Looking for a new apartment in Germany? Read this guide on the best websites where to find the best apartments in the country.

Moreover, in order to get your money back, you need to protect yourself and the apartment from any possible damage! To protect the rental property and all valuable items in the apartment or house, you need to get household content insurance, which is just 2,5 EUR per month but can save you so much!

It will protect furniture, electronics, and other valuables from theft, fire, or disaster. Get covered with Feather – an insurance provider for expats in Germany.

Landlord rights

As we mentioned, Germany protects tenants’ rights, and it’s very difficult for landlords to terminate a lease. Your contract can only be terminated for certain reasons, such as:

  • Your landlord needs the property for himself, members of his family, or members of his household (to sell it or move in themselves).
  • You fail to pay rent on time more than twice
  • You use the property in a way that violates the tenancy agreement
  • You give the apartment to a third party for use without an owner’s authorization
  • If the owner wants to demolish a building in need of renovation and build a new building in its place
  • You show some anti-social behaviour

How the termination of apartment lease works in Germany

counter-top with refrigerator and a car in the kitchen area.

To terminate your apartment lease in Germany, you will need to let your landlord know 3 months in advance via a written letter.

Termination notice

When terminating a regular rental agreement 3 months of the notice applies. This is a legal minimum notice period. This period doesn’t depend on how long you have been living in the apartment.

A tenant must terminate the lease before the 3rd working day of the month. If, for example, you submit the notice of termination on April 3, you can terminate the lease and move out on June 30.

However, if you give notice one day later, on the fourth working day of the month, you can only terminate on July 31, as April can no longer be counted as a full month in the notice period.

Therefore, pay attention to the exact dates when terminating the lease in Germany, so you won’t be stuck in the apartment for one more month!

Moreover, sending an email isn’t enough, and you also should write a mail to the landlord’s address.

Alternatively, you can ask the landlord to end the lease sooner and that you will be looking for another tenant in the meanwhile.

If the landlord terminates your contract, a different period applies, which in particular you can read below.

Duration of the lease and termination notice:

  1. Less than 5 years – 3 months
  2. Between 5 and 8 years – 6 months
  3. Over 8 years – 9 months

Whether you are still planning to rent this place or look for another one, you must have general liability insurance in your name. It will protect you from debt related to any property.

It will cover all damages and issues which happen within the 4 walls of a rented apartment.

What is included in the personal liability insurance (Privathaftpflichtversicherung)?

  • Damage to the apartment you live in (doors, floors, and walls, but not your own things)
    For example, if your washing machine breaks, floods your apartment, and destroys the wooden floor, the insurance company will pay for the repairs.
  • Damage to other people’s property
  • Injuries caused to other people

Get the cheapest coverage for under 3 EUR per month here.

Termination letter

The termination letter is the must element if you want to end your rental agreement in Germany. You can formulate it freely, but it must include the signatures of all tenants.

You don’t need to specify the reason for termination.

Here is an example of the termination letter in English and German:

The undersigned parties agree that the tenancy between ………………………… (landlord) and ………………………………(tenant) for the apartment in the house ………………………………… (city, street, no., floor) on …………………. (day, month, year) is terminated.

Your signature

German version

Die unterzeichnenden Parteien sind sich einig, dass das Mietverhältnis zwischen ………………………… (Vermieter) und ………………………………(Mieter) über die Wohnung im Haus ………………………………… (Ort, Straße, Nr., Etage) am …………………. (Tag, Monat, Jahr) beendet ist.

To write a termination letter, you can also use this free generator.

If landlord terminates the agreement

If a rental agreement is terminated by the landlord, he or she must include a clear reason for ending the lease in the termination letter.

Duration of the lease and termination notice if the landlord ends the agreement:

  1. Less than 5 years – 3 months
  2. Between 5 and 8 years – 6 months
  3. Over 8 years – 9 months

When you have problems with a landlord

We all know that landlords can be nasty. Sometimes they can even ignore your termination of the lease.

Even if you have everything right, it can happen that a landlord simply ignores the notice. They might not accept a letter and it will be returned to the post office (if it was a letter with a return receipt).

In the end, the law is on your side, and you can prove that the landlord did refuse to accept the letter of termination.

If you as a tenant experience any problems with the landlord, for example, they ignore you or being unresponsive, you could do the following:

  • Submit a complaint to your landlord in writing
  • Consult with your local tenants’ association to have them intervene on your behalf
  • Contact a lawyer

In any case, we always recommend having legal insurance. It will protect you from hefty rates for lawyers and going to court if you have any issues with the landlord. You can also use legal insurance for issues in private life, e.g., at work with your employer. 

Hence, thanks to this insurance, you’ll be covered for legal disputes at work, at home, in the business, and in your personal life. With prices starting from 17 EUR per month, you don’t have any excuses not to take it.

Read our guide on how to solve issues with German landlords.

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