If you want to move out of your rented apartment in Germany, you have to cancel the rental agreement beforehand – and in good time. Otherwise, if you don’t do that within the notice period, you might have to pay rent twice.
If you want to terminate your lease, you have to terminate it – so far, so good. However, it is crucial that the notice of termination reaches the landlord at the right time. Because if you give notice too late, in the worst case scenario you will pay twice the rent: for the new and for the old apartment. Below are standard notice periods that apply to tenants in Germany.
Notice periods for tenants in Germany: Overview
In summary: notice periods for rental agreements in Germany
|Termination type||Notice period|
|Statutory / ordinary termination by the tenant:||3 months to the end of the month|
|Termination without notice by the landlord:||after a previous warning|
|Qualified temporary lease:||individual agreement|
|Waiver of termination:||individual agreement|
|Extraordinary termination / special termination by the tenant:||depending on the individual case, usually at the end of the month after the next month after the termination|
|The landlord needs the apartment:||depending on the rental period|
Notice period for most cases: three months’ notice
Usually, the tenant has a notice period of three months for most rental contracts – this is stipulated by law and is in the German Civil Code (BGB). More precisely: The notice of termination must be sent to the landlord no later than the third working day of the month, then the contract ends at the end of the month after the next. An example: If a tenant quits by May 3rd, the tenancy ends on July 31st. However, there are also exceptions to the three-month notice period.
The decisive factor is the point in time at which the notice of termination reaches the landlord – not, as is often assumed, the postmark.
Lease agreement with mutual waiver of termination
Although a three-month notice period applies in most cases, it is still advisable to take a look at the rental agreement before planning your move. For example, a mutual waiver of termination can be agreed there.
In the case of form rental agreements, this can last up to four years. In practice, this means that neither the tenant nor the landlord can terminate the contract for a period of four years from the signing of the lease.
An even longer waiver of termination can be agreed individually. In a judgment, the Federal Court of Justice also found a five-year period to be unobjectionable (Ref .: VIII ZR 81/03). Incidentally, the agreement is particularly common for graduated leases. In these cases, the same rules apply as for other rental contracts.
Qualified temporary lease
Another possibility to exclude a termination within a certain period is qualified time leases with a waiver of termination. The tenant and landlord agree not to continue the tenancy after a certain period of time.
A cancellation waiver can be agreed for the period in which the tenancy is running. However, temporary leases with a waiver of termination are only permitted in a qualified form. This means that the landlord must state in the lease why the lease should not be continued after a certain period of time. Such a reason can, for example, be a later personal requirement or the planned demolition or renovation of the apartment.
A missing or pre-set reason means that the time limit of the rental contract is ineffective – the contract is therefore considered to be of unlimited duration and the statutory notice period of three months applies.
Special cases: cancel despite deadlines
In general, the following applies: a contract is a contract. However, there are special cases in which the tenant can prematurely terminate the rental agreement despite the exclusion of termination. This is the case if the tenant’s interest in terminating the lease outweighs the landlord’s interest in continuing it.
That would be the case, for example, if the relationship of trust between the tenant and landlord is irreversibly broken – for example, if the landlord has unlawfully gained access to the rented apartment.
Another example: The apartment has serious defects and poses a risk to the health of the tenant. In such cases, the tenant can terminate the contract without notice. Of course, it always depends on the circumstances of the individual case. Therefore, legal advice from a local tenants’ association or a lawyer is advisable.
In these cases the tenant has a special right of termination
In certain circumstances, tenants have special termination rights. This is the case, for example, with a rent increase. The tenant can then terminate the tenancy by the end of the second month after receipt of the rent increase.
An example: The rent increase letter will be sent to the tenant on January 4th. The tenant then has to give notice by March 31st – i.e. by the end of the second month after receipt of the notice of cancellation. The lease ends on May 31st – the end of the month after next.
Important: If the tenant makes use of his special right of termination, the rent increase does not come into force. The tenant can therefore continue to pay the previous rent for the remaining months.
The tenant has a special right of termination even after the announcement of a modernization. After the tenant has received the announcement, he must cancel by the end of the same month. The lease then ends extraordinarily at the end of the month after the next.
An example: the announcement of the modernization will be sent to the tenant on February 11th. The tenant gives notice on February 28th. The lease ends on April 30th.
There is also a special regulation in the event that the tenant dies. In this case, the heirs automatically enter into the lease. You are then entitled to terminate the tenancy within one month after becoming aware of the tenant’s death – with the statutory notice period of three months.