How to move out of an apartment in Germany

This guide shows you what you must do when you move out of your apartment in Germany.

End your lease

When to end your lease

You must end your lease 3 months in advance, before the 3rd work day of the month.1 Some leases have a shorter notice period, but the maximum is 3 month.28 Fixed-term leases can’t be cancelled early.46

The notice period starts when your landlord receives your cancellation letter.29

Example 1: You tell your landlord on January 1. Your lease ends on March 31.2

Example 2: You tell your landlord on January 10. Your lease ends on April 30.

How to end your lease sooner

Ask your landlord.30 They can allow you to end your lease sooner. They can ask you to pay a fee. It’s usually 1 month of warm rent.

If your landlord refuses to end your lease sooner, you must pay rent until the end of your notice period.31

How to end your lease

Send a cancellation letter (Kündigungsschreiben). All the tenants who signed the lease must sign the cancellation letter. Send the letter by registered mail. An email is not enough.3

Cancellation letter generator (in German) – ImmobilenScout24

How to mail a letter – from your computer, without a printer

Let people visit your apartment

After you give your notice, your landlord can show your apartment to other people.

Rules for apartment visits:

  • Apartment viewings can only start after you give your notice.4
  • Your landlord can’t show your apartment when you are not at home.5
  • Your landlord must announce apartment viewings in writing.6
  • Your landlord must announce apartment viewings at least 2 days in advance, or 3 days in advance if you have a job.7
  • You can refuse a scheduled visit, but you must suggest another date.8
  • You don’t have to allow more than 2-3 viewings per week.
  • You don’t have to clean the apartment for viewings.9
  • You don’t have to let visitors take photos.

Cancel or move your contracts

Your internet, telephone and insurance contracts don’t end because you move. You must cancel them. There is usually a notice period of 1 to 3 months. You can cancel contracts on the company’s website, or in writing.10 Use aboalarm to write the cancellation letter.

If you stay in Germany

Your internet contract usually moves with you. There is usually a moving fee of 20€ to 70€ moving fee.11 Your contract continues, but it’s not extended.36

You can end your contract with a 1 month notice if…

  • They can’t offer the same service at the same price at your new address37
  • or you move with someone who already has an internet contract12

Your landline phone contract moves with you. If you stay in the same area, you can keep the same phone number for free.13

Your mobile phone contract moves with you. You can keep the same phone number for free.14

Your electricity and gas contracts move with you. They must offer the same service at the same price at your new address.15 They can’t extend your contract.15 If they can’t provide the same service, you can cancel your contract. If you can’t use their service at your new address (different heating system, no gas connection), you can cancel your contract.16 If you move with someone who already has an electricity/gas contract, you can cancel your contract.17

If you leave Germany

You can cancel your phone, internet and electricity contracts with a 1 month notice.18 You can do it on the company’s website or in writing. Use aboalarm to write the cancellation letter.

To stop paying the [TV tax], deregister on the Rundfunkbeitrag website. You can also pay someone to do it for you.

To stop paying the dog tax after you leave Berlin, deregister your dog.

How to stop paying the TV tax

Change your address

Tell everyone your new address, deregister your old address, and forward your mail to your new address.

How to change your address

Repaint the apartment

Do you need to repaint the walls? It depends on your lease. It should have a section about cosmetic repairs (Schönheitsreparaturen).

If there are no mentions of cosmetic repairs in your contract, you are lucky! Just clean the apartment and leave.32

Usually, you must return the apartment in the same state as when you moved in. You might have to repaint the walls and fixes the holes you have made.

Cosmetic repairs include:19

  • 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 include:32

  • Replacing, sanding or sealing the parquet floors
  • Replacing the carpets
  • Repairing any damage that you have not caused20 (cracks in the ceilings and walls, crumbling plaster, damage from the previous tenant, etc.)

Your can’t be forced to make unnecessary repairs.21 You can’t be forced to “repaint after 3 years” or “repaint when you leave”. These clauses are not valid, and you can ignore them.22

Your lease can ask you to paint the walls in light or neutral colours. It can’t force you to use a specific colour (white) or paint type.23 For example, you don’t need to repaint your apartment from light grey to pure white.

You can do the repairs yourself. You can’t be forced to use a contractor.32

Renovation expenses are tax-deductible.

Complete the handover

When you are ready to move out, your landlord will meet you to…

  • Inspect the apartment
  • Take your apartment keys
  • Read the electricity meter
  • Sign the handover document (Übergabeprotokoll)

This meeting – the Wohnungsübergabe – is very important. Always be there when it happens. Take a lot of pictures. If you can, bring a witness. You can even bring a lawyer with you.33

Return the keys

You must give your apartment keys back to your landlord. There should be as many keys as when you moved in.

Read the electricity meter

You must read the electricity meter when you move in and when you move out. Give these numbers to your electricity company. They 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.

Meter reading on a German electricity meter

Write down the meter number (Zählernummer) and meter reading (Zählerstand) in the handover document (Übergabeprotokoll).

Sign the Übergabeprotokoll

You will fill a handover document (Übergabeprotokoll) with your landlord. It describes the condition of the apartment, and what must be repaired.33

Übergabeprotokoll template – ImmobilenScout24

Always make a handover document.44 If your landlord repairs something that is not in this document, you don’t have to pay for it. If it’s not in the Übergabeprotokoll, it’s not your problem.45 It helps you get your deposit back faster.

Move your things

Find cardboard boxes

You can find cardboard boxes…

  • Online
    Buy new boxes from Zapf, and U-Karton. Zapf makes good quality boxes.34
  • In a hardware store (Baumarkt)
    Buy new boxes from Bauhaus, Hellweg, and other hardware stores.
  • In stores
    Get free used boxes from stores near you. You just need to ask nicely.
  • On Kleinanzeigen
    Buy used boxes from other people. It’s much cheaper than new boxes.
  • From the moving company
    If you hire a moving company, they can give or sell you boxes.

Hire a moving company

A moving company helps you pack boxes, disassemble furniture, save a parking space (Halteverbot), hire movers, and change your address. It costs 600 to 1,200€, but it’s worth it.38 The price depend on how much furniture you have, and how hard it is to move the furniture.40

If you don’t have many things to move, hire a “man with a van”. They are usually cheaper than a moving company. You can find them on Kleinanzeigen. Möbel Taxi is a popular option.

International moves are more expensive. Shipping and customs can be complicated. If you move to America or Asia, it’s often cheaper to sell everything and buy it again.

Zapf is often recommended.24 Smoovers can also book movers for you and they speak English.

Your contract should say who pays for the damages the movers cause.39 For example, what happens if they scratch the walls while they move your couch? Most moving companies have insurance for this. The movers on Kleinanzeigen are might not have insurance.

Rent a moving truck

Moving trucks are much cheaper than moving companies, but you must move the furniture yourself. Miles is a car sharing service that rents vans.

You must park the truck somewhere while you load your things. To reserve a parking spot (Halteverbot), you must get permission from the Bezirksamt.25 This takes around 4 weeks.26 A service like can do it for you.

Most people just hold a parking spot with their car until the moving truck arrives.41 You can also use your building’s underground parking.

Sell or donate your things

Get rid of the things you don’t need. The best options are Kleinanzeigen and Facebook groups.

How to buy, sell and donate things

Get rid of furniture and appliances

Sell or donate your old furniture. If no one wants it, you can’t leave it on the street. You must ask BSR to pick it up (for a fee) or bring it to one of their recycling centres.

How to recycle furniture and appliances

Get your deposit back

Some time after you move out, you will get your deposit (Kaution) back. It can take a few weeks, often up to 6 months, and never more than 12 months.

How to get your deposit back

Your landlord can use your Kaution to repair things that you broke. For example, your landlord can pay to fix holes in the walls. Landlords often try to use your Kaution for repairs that you should not pay for.

If your landlord tries to scam you, get help from your tenants’ association or a lawyer. If you have legal insurance, it will cover the cost of a lawyer.

Where to get help

Get a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung

Get a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung from your landlord. It confirms that you have no debt to your landlord. You might need it to apply for an apartment.

If you live in a WG, you can also get a letter from your roommates to confirm that you always paid your rent on time.43

Your landlord can refuse to give you a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung. Some landlords charge around 50€ for it.42

Deduct your moving expenses

If you move for work, your relocation costs are tax-deductible. Include them in your next tax declaration to get some money back.

How to deduct moving expenses


  • Give a cancellation letter to your landlord
  • Cancel or move your contracts
    • Cancel or move your electricity contract
    • Cancel or move your phone contract
    • Cancel or move your internet contract
    • Deregister for the TV tax
    • Deregister for the dog tax
  • Complete the handover
    • Give your keys to the landlord
    • Read your electricity meter
    • Sign a handover document (Übergabeprotokoll)
  • Clean or repaint the apartment
  • Change your address
  • Get your deposit (Kaution) back
  • Get a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung
  • Deduct your moving expenses in your next tax declaration

What to do next

How to find an apartment

How to move into an apartment

If you leave Germany, you can get a refund for your pension payments.27 You can get thousands of euros back.35

This calculator tells you if you can get a pension refund, and how much you can get back.

Need help?

Where to ask apartment questions

Sources and footnotes


  3. §568 BGB, §126 BGB,, 

































  36. §60 Abs. 1 TKG 

  37. §60 Abs. 2 TKG 

  38. Jonathan Wooddin from Smoovers (January 2023) 

  39. Jonathan Wooddin from Smoovers (January 2023) 

  40. Jonathan Wooddin from Smoovers (January 2023) 

  41. Jonathan Wooddin from Smoovers (January 2023) 





  46. Finanztip