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

Leases have a 3 month notice period (Kündigungsfrist). If you want to end your lease, you must tell your landlord 3 months in advance1, 2. Some leases have a shorter notice period, but the maximum notice period is 3 month1.

You must cancel before the 3rd work 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 starts when the landlord gets your cancellation letter1, not when you send it.

How to end your lease sooner

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 pay the rent until your lease ends.

Sometimes, the landlord lets you end your lease sooner if you pay a fee. There is no standard fee, but one month of warm rent is common.

How to tell your landlord

You must send your landlord a termination notice (Kündigungsschreiben). It must be signed by all tenants, and printed1, 2. You must send the cancellation letter by registered mail. An email is not enough1, 2.

Cancellation letter generator (in German) — ImmobilenScout24

Let people visit your apartment

After you end your lease, the landlord can show your apartment to other people.

There are a few rules for apartment visits:

  • The apartment viewings can only start after you sent a Kündigungsschreiben1.
  • The landlord can't show your apartment when you are not at home1.
  • The landlord must announce apartment viewings in writing1.
  • The landlord must announce apartment viewings at least 2 days in advance, or 3 days in advance 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 apartment for viewings1.
  • You can refuse to let visitors take photos.

Move or cancel your contracts

Most German contracts have a cancellation period (Kündigungsfrist). The Kündigungsfrist is usually 1 to 3 months. You can't cancel your contracts just because you move, but there are exceptions. You must cancel most contracts by registered mail, or on the company's website1. You can use websites like aboalarm to write the cancellation letter.

If you stay in Germany

Your internet contract usually moves with you. You might pay a 20€ to 70€1 fee when you move your internet connection§60.1. The price and service must stay the same§60.1. They can't extend your contract§60.1. If your internet company can't give you the same internet connection at your new address, you can end your contract with a 1 month notice§60.2. If you move with someone who already has an internet contract, you can cancel your contract with a 1 month notice1.

Your landline phone moves with you. If you stay in the same area, you can keep the same phone number1. There is no fee to keep your phone number1.

Your mobile phone moves with you. You can keep the same phone number. There is no fee to keep your phone number1.

Your electricity and gas contracts move with you. The price and service must stay the same1. They can't extend your contract1. 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 contract1. If you move with someone who already has an electricity/gas contract, you can cancel your contract1.

If you leave Germany

If you move out of Germany, you can cancel your phone, internet and electricity contracts with a 1 month notice1, 2.

Stop paying the TV tax

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

What is the Rundfunkbeitrag? ➞ How to deregister

Stop paying the dog tax

If you leave Berlin, you must deregister your dog to stop paying the dog tax (Hundesteuer).

If you move to another address in Berlin, you must change your address for the dog tax.

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 can't be forced to make unnecessary cosmetic repairs1.

Return the keys and get your deposit back

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

In your Übergabeprotokoll, you should record everything. Take a lot of pictures. You can even bring a lawyer with you1. 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.

When do I get my deposit back? ➞

If your landlord won't return your deposit, you can get help from your tenants' association or a lawyer. Conny also offers a deposit recovery service. You only pay if they are successful.

Where to get help ➞

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.

Get a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung

Ask your old landlord to sign a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung. This document confirms that you do not owe them money. It can be useful when you look for an apartment.

Move your things

Find cardboard boxes

You can order cardboard boxes (Umzugskarton) from Zapf, Karton.eu and U-Karton. Zapf makes good quality boxes1. 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. This is cheaper than buying new boxes.

Hire a moving company

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.

Rent a moving truck

Robben und Wientjes rents moving trucks at a good price. Miles is a car sharing service that rents vans. Moving trucks are much 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.

Sell or donate your things

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

How to buy, sell and donate things ➞

Get rid of furniture and appliances

You can't leave your old furniture on 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.

How to recycle in Germany ➞ Furniture and large items

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 ➞

    What's next?

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

    If you leave Germany, you can get a refund for your pension payments1, 2, 3. You can get thousands of euros back1.

    Need help?

    Where to get help ➞ Apartment questions