After you find your apartment, and before you move into your new apartment, you must move out of your old apartment. Here are the things you must think about when you leave an apartment in Germany.

End your lease

You must give a 3 month notice before you leave your old apartment1. Your lease can require a shorter notice period (Kündigungsfrist), but it can't be longer than 3 months1.

You must cancel before the 3rd working day of the month. For example, if you cancel on January 1, your lease will end on March 31. If you cancel on January 10, your lease will end on April 311, 2. The cancellation period begins when the landlord receives the cancellation letter1, not when you send it.

You end your lease by writing a cancellation letter. You can use a cancellation letter generator. The cancellation letter must be signed by all tenants, and printed1, 2. An email is not enough1, 2. Send the cancellation letter to your landlord by registered mail.

You can ask your landlord to end your lease sooner1. You help them find a new tenant, and you leave when the new tenant moves in. It's easier for you and for the landlord, but the landlord can refuse to do that1. If they say no, you must wait until your lease ends. Sometimes, the landlord lets you end your lease sooner if you pay a fee (for example, one month of rent).

Let people visit your apartment

If you want to leave your apartment, the landlord can organise visits of your apartment. The visits can only start after you gave your termination notice1. The landlord can't organise visits when you are not at home1. They must announce visits in writing. They must announce visits at least 2 days in advance, or 3 days if you have a job1. You can refuse a scheduled visit, but you must suggest another date1. You don't have to allow more than 2-3 viewings per week. You don't have to clean the apartment1. You can refuse to let visitors take photos.

End your phone, internet and electricity contracts

Phone, internet and electricity contracts often have a cancellation period (Kündigungsfrist). If you want to end your contract, you must do it during that period. If you don't cancel your contract, it's renewed automatically. For example, you must cancel your Vodafone contract at least 3 months before it ends.

You can cancel your internet contract if the company can't offer the same service at your new address. For example, if Vodafone does not offer the same internet connection at your new address, you can cancel your contract1.

Most contracts must be cancelled by mail, or on the company's website. You can use websites like aboalarm to write the cancellation letter.

You can also transfer your phone, internet and electricity contracts to your new address. This is often your only option.

Stop paying the TV tax

If you are leaving Germany, you must inform the GEZ. You will not get any more GEZ/Rundfunkbeitrag letters. You can deregister on the Rundfunkbeitrag website.

Related guide: What is the GEZ/Rundfunkbeitrag?

Stop paying the dog tax

If you have a dog, and you are leaving Berlin, you must deregister your dog. After you deregistered your dog, you don't need to pay the dog tax (Hundesteuer).

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Repaint the walls

Do you need to repaint your apartment? It depends on your rent contract. Look for a clause about cosmetic repairs (Schönheitsreparaturen). You are usually responsible for cosmetic repairs. You must usually return the apartment in the same state as when you moved in. You might have to patch holes in the wall and repaint the walls.

Cosmetic repairs include1:

  • Painting the walls and the ceilings
  • Repairing holes you made in the walls
  • Painting the floors
  • Painting the radiators and heating pipes
  • Painting the interior doors and frames

Cosmetic repairs do not include1:

  • Replacing, sanding or sealing the parquet floors
  • Repairing any damage that you have not caused (cracks in the ceilings and walls, crumbling plaster etc.)

If there are no mentions of cosmetic repairs in your contract, you are very lucky! You can clean the apartment and leave1.

You have the right to do the repairs yourself. You can't be forced to use a contractor1. If you do the repairs yourself, you must do them correctly1. You must use materials of "average quality" and do repairs of "average quality"1, 2. If you don't do the repairs correctly, the landlord can do them again, and charge you for it1. You also can't be forced to make unnecessary cosmetic repairs1.

Return the keys and get your deposit back

When you give the apartment keys back (the Wohnungsübergabe), you will fill a handover document (Übergabeprotokoll). In this document, you describe the state of the apartment, and what needs to be repaired1.

In your Übergabeprotokoll, you should record everything. Take a lot of pictures. If you can, bringing a lawyer with you during the handover1. This way, the landlord can't discover "additional damages" later, and use your deposit to fix them1. Don't let the landlord fill the Übergabeprotokoll alone. Don't sign it unless you agree with everything in it. The landlord can't make you pay for damages that are not listed in the Übergabeprotokoll1.

The landlord will take up to 6 months to return your deposit. If there is nothing to repair, you will get the whole deposit back. If something needs to be repaired, the landlord will pay for the repairs with your deposit.

During the Wohnungsübergabe, you will also take electricity meter readings. You must write down the meter number (Zählernummer), and the reading (Zählerstand). You must give these numbers to your electricity company. You can usually do it online. The electricity company will know exactly how much electricity you have used. If you paid too much, you will get a refund. If you didn't pay enough, you will get an invoice.

Related guide: How does the deposit (Kaution) work in Germany?

Get a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung

After everything is done, ask your old landlord to sign a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung. This document confirms that you do not owe them money. It can be useful for finding your next apartment.

Move your things

Cardboard boxes

You can order cardboard boxes (Umzugskarton) from Zapf, Karton.eu and U-Karton. The ones from Zapf are very good quality1. You can also buy cardboard boxes from Bauhaus, Hellweg, and other hardware stores.

You can ask stores to give you their old boxes. You can also buy used boxes on eBay Kleinanzeigen.

Moving companies

If you can't move everything yourself, you can hire a moving company. Zapf is often recommended1, 2, 3. It's more expensive, but all your goods are insured.

If you don't have many things to move, you can hire a "man with a van". They are often cheaper than a moving company. Möbel Taxi is a popular option. You can find more on eBay Kleinanzeigen.

Moving trucks

Robben und Wientjes rents moving trucks at a good price. Miles is a car sharing service that rents vans. Moving trucks are cheaper than moving companies, but you must move the furniture yourself.

You will need to park the truck somewhere while you load your things. You can reserve a parking spot with a sign, but you need permission from the city1, 2. You can get permission at the Bezirksamt for at least 21€, or use a service like Halteverbot Berlin 24 for around 60€. You must ask for permission 2-4 weeks in advance1, 2, 3. If you have an underground garage, it's cheaper and easier to park the truck there.

Selling/donating your things

The best way to sell or donate your things is to use eBay Kleinanzeigen. There are also Facebook groups where you can donate them.

Related guides:

Throwing furniture away

You can't leave your old furniture in the street. You must ask BSR to pick it up (for a fee) or take it to one of their 15 recycling centres. You can also sell or donate your old furniture.

Related guide: How to sort your trash and recycle in Germany

Forward your mail

Deutsche Post offers a mail forwarding service. If you receive mail at your old address, they will forward it to your new address. It costs less than 30€ per year.

Deregister your address

If you are moving to another address in Germany, you don't need to do deregister. When register your new address (Anmeldung), the old address will be deregistered automatically.

If you leave Germany permanently, you must deregister your address. This is called the Abmeldung. When you deregister your address, you stop paying health insurance and TV tax.

Related guide: The Abmeldung - how to deregister an address in Berlin

    What comes next?

    After you find a new place to live, it's time move into your new apartment.

    If you lived in Germany for less than 5 years, you can get a refund for your pension payments1, 2, 3. You can get thousands of euros back1.

    Related guide: How to get a German pension payments refund

    Need help?

    Where to find help ➞ Apartment questions