How termination of the rental agreement in Germany works

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Termination of the rental agreement is something movers might have to deal with. Find out how to terminate your apartment rental agreement.

Termination of the rental agreement: For most Expats in Germany, moving around is inevitable. New job, new roommates, new boyfriend, new girlfriend – there are a lot of reasons why you might want to move. However, you’ll have to deal with your rental agreement. Below is a look at the rental agreement in Germany and how to terminate it effectively when moving.

termination of the rental agreement

There are a few things to consider when terminating an apartment

If a tenant wants to move out of his apartment, there are a lot of things to do. It applies to the move has to be organized, the forwarding of the mail has to be arranged, renovation work may have to be carried out in the old or the new apartment, etc.

However, before the tenant can take care of moving out, the first step must always be taken: he must terminate his rental agreement. Questions quickly arise: What should the letter of termination for the apartment look like? How long is the notice period for the rental agreement?

This guide reveals what you as a tenant need to consider for your termination of the tenancy agreement to take effect and how the termination of the tenancy by the landlord works. Read everything about terminating the rental agreement here and download a template for terminating the rental agreement free of charge.

The most important thing about terminating the rental agreement

What should be considered when terminating a rental agreement?

The legal deadline for the ordinary termination of the rental agreement differs for tenants and landlords. In what form must a termination be made?

Termination of the rental agreement is only valid if it is submitted in writing on paper and with a valid signature. Is an extraordinary termination of the rental agreement possible?

Both tenants and landlords can submit an extraordinary termination of the rental agreement if certain reasons make it unreasonable to continue the tenancy until the end of the notice period. Termination without notice may also be possible.

Ordinary termination by the tenant: notice period and notice of termination

If a tenant wants to terminate his apartment, this is usually done in the form of ordinary termination. This means that he cannot move out overnight, but must give notice.

The tenancy right to terminate the tenancy agreement is regulated in §§ 568 to 576b of the German Civil Code (BGB). Section 573c deals with the statutory notice periods for unlimited rental contracts:

Termination [by the tenant] is permissible no later than on the third working day of a calendar month at the end of the month after next.

In concrete terms, this means: Tenants have a period of 3 months to terminate the unlimited rental contract. This does not necessarily have to be submitted before the beginning of the first month, but no later than on the third working day.

For example, if you submit your notice of termination of the rental agreement on April 3rd, you can end the tenancy on June 30th, since the legislator thinks that the notice period of three months (April, May, June) is still fulfilled.

However, if you cancel one day later, on the fourth working day of the month, you can only cancel on July 31, since April is no longer a full month towards the cancellation period.

The decisive factor here is the date when the letter of termination ends up in the landlord’s mailbox, not the postmark. To ensure that the notice of termination reaches the landlord on time, it is therefore advisable to either send it by registered mail or to put it in the landlord’s mailbox yourself – preferably in the presence of witnesses.

Note: The statutory period for terminating the rental agreement does not have to be observed in the rental agreement stipulates that the tenant may also terminate the contract in a shorter period. However, for reasons of tenant protection, a longer notice period may not be stipulated in the contract.

The termination of the rental agreement must always be in writing and on paper. The letter of termination for the rental agreement must therefore not be sent by fax or e-mail. A verbal notice is also not effective. There is also a signature of the main tenant is mandatory when terminating the rental agreement.

If you want to terminate your rental agreement, a template can help you to formulate the termination letter. In principle, however, it can be done informally and only has to unequivocally express the intention to terminate the rental agreement. As a tenant, you do not have to state specific reasons why you want to end the tenancy. But don’t forget your signature.

termination of the rental agreement

How should landlords treat the ordinary termination?

In Germany, there is a social tenancy law, which in the case of residential tenancies primarily has advantages for the tenants and not for the landlords. This is also noticeable when terminating the rental agreement, as this is much more complicated for the landlord.

Ordinary termination by the landlord can only take place if he has a legitimate interest in canceling the open-ended rental agreement. He must inform the tenant of the reasons for this in the letter of termination.

The tenancy law defines three situations in which the termination of the tenancy agreement by the landlord is justified:

  • The tenant is guilty of a not inconsiderable breach of his contractual obligations.
  • The landlord would like to register personal use for himself, his family members, or members of his household for the apartment. ( Termination for personal use )
  • The continuation of the tenancy results in considerable disadvantages for the landlord because this prevents an appropriate economic use of the property. (Notice of termination)

A notice of termination can be, for example, if the owner wants to demolish a building in need of renovation and build a new building in its place. The intention of a rent increase, on the other hand, is not a permissible reason for a notice of termination.

Another factor that is different for landlords than for tenants when terminating the rental agreement is the statutory period of notice. This depends on the duration of the existing rental agreement at the time of termination:

Duration of the tenancyNotice period for the landlord
less than 5 years3 months
between 5 and 8 years6 months
longer than 8 years9 months

Here, too, the rental agreement may specify a different notice period than the statutory one. If the rental agreement is terminated by the landlord, this may at best be longer than the statutory notice period, but never shorter.

Can tenants object to a termination of the rental agreement?

Furthermore, the social tenancy law stipulates that a landlord is obliged to draw the tenant’s attention to his right of objection when terminating the tenancy agreement when terminating the tenancy agreement. This notice must be given in good time so that the tenant can also exercise this right within the statutory objection period.

The landlord may object to a lease termination if moving out of the apartment represents unreasonable hardship for the tenant. This can be, for example, in the following situations:

  • The tenant is unable to find a suitable replacement apartment.
  • A tenant is in advanced pregnancy.
  • The move means a change of school for a child who is about to graduate.
  • The tenant is seriously ill or disabled.
  • The tenant is very old and deeply rooted in the apartment or the residential area.

If the court recognizes a reason for hardship, the tenant may remain in the rented apartment until the reason ceases to apply. The landlord can then terminate the rental agreement again, provided that the reasons for the termination still exist at this point.

The objection to the termination must be submitted to the landlord in writing no later than two months before the end of the tenancy. He can also demand that the tenant immediately state the reasons for the objection. If the lessee has not been informed in good time by the lessor of his right to object, he may also object to the termination of the rental agreement at a later date.

termination of the rental agreement

When is an extraordinary termination of the rental agreement possible?

Both tenants and landlords have the right to submit an extraordinary notice of termination of the rental agreement, in which case the rental relationship can be terminated without observing the notice periods. The prerequisite for this is the existence of important reasons for which the terminating contractual partner cannot reasonably be expected to continue the tenancy until the end of the notice period.

This is usually the case when one of the two tenants violates the rights of the other to a significant extent. Some examples:

  • The tenant is in arrears with the payment of the rent for two or more consecutive dates.
  • The tenant has made the apartment available to a third party without authorization .
  • The tenant has caused considerable damage to the apartment either intentionally or negligently .
  • The landlord did not make the apartment available to the tenant at the contractually agreed time .

If the extraordinary termination of the rental agreement is justified, tenants have no right to object.

Can a temporary rental contract be terminated extraordinarily?

The previous statements related to open-ended leases.

However, it also happens that a rental agreement is made for a limited period of time: a so-called temporary rental contract .

As a rule, such a contract cannot be properly terminated by either the tenant or the landlord. If the contract ends, the landlord can demand that you move out of the rented apartment, provided that the reason for the limitation still exists at this point in time. In this case, tenants are not entitled to protection against dismissal.

However, there is the possibility of extraordinary termination of the fixed-term rental agreement. The reasons on which this termination can take place are the same as for open-ended leases. However, the extraordinary termination of a fixed-term rental contract must not usually be done without notice , but must take into account the statutory notice periods. Only if there are really serious reasons, such as a threat to health from toxic vapors in the apartment, an extraordinary termination without notice may also be possible. In the event of a dispute, a court must decide on this.

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