Rental Contract Termination (Mietvertrag Kündigung)
Under Section 573c – Deadlines for ordinary termination of the rental contract (BGB), the tenants in Germany can terminate their Rental Contract of an apartment or house (Mietvertrag Kündigung) with a notice period of three months. It is irrelevant how long they lived in that apartment or house.
Termination of a rental contract is always stressful.
- Ordinary Rental Contract Termination
- Extraordinary Rental Contract Termination
- What when You Want to Move Out Early?
Ordinary Rental Contract Termination
As a tenant, you must give the Rental Contract Termination (Mietvertrag Kündigung) to the landlord no later than the third working day of the current month to count towards the deadline. Saturdays are also considered working days. What matters is the date the landlord received your rental agreement termination, not the date it was sent.
For example, the tenant wants to terminate the Apartment Rental Contract on 30 November 2023. The letter of rental contract termination reached the landlord on Monday, 4 September 2023. The rental contract termination is timely because 3 September was a Sunday, not a business day. If the letter with contract termination had reached the landlord on Tuesday, 5 September 2023, the apartment lease would have ended one month later, on 31 December 2023.
Always give notice in writing.
The termination must be in writing, which means you must draw up a written document that you must not forget to sign. Termination of the contract sent by e-mail, fax, WhatsApp, or Viber is not recognized by Section 568 – Form and content of the rental contract termination (BGB).
Two important things about the termination of the rental contract:
1. Prohibition of Contract Termination
You should check your rental contract to see whether termination is banned for a specified period. Unfortunately, in that case, you can not terminate the contract without the landlord’s consent. An exclusion of termination is only permissible for up to four years (Federal Court of Justice, the Decision on August 23, 2016).
Ordinary termination is often ruled out in the case of fixed-term rental contracts too. If you have concluded such a temporary rental contract, you need the landlord’s consent to move out earlier.
2. Evidence or Witness
You can submit the termination of the rental contract to the landlord in the presence of another person who is your witness, or you can send it as a registered letter. With a registered letter, the delivery person (postman) registers in their system that your shipment has been placed in the mailbox of the recipient. You can check the delivery date by tracking the shipment on the website of the delivery service (the post office), which is proof that the delivery has been made. It is not necessary to send a registered letter with a return receipt.
Extraordinary Rental Contract Termination
An extraordinary termination without notice by the tenant is only possible in exceptional cases. In addition to the extraordinary termination, the tenant is also entitled to a special right of termination in certain circumstances.
These are most consequential examples of extraordinary rental contract termination:
- Renovation of the apartment – special right of termination
- Rent increase – special right of termination
- Health hazard – extraordinary termination
- Death of the tenant – extraordinary termination
- Insult – extraordinary termination
1. Renovation of the apartment
After you receive a notification about the renovation of the apartment from your landlord, you can terminate the rental contract. You must submit the termination of the contract to the landlord by the end of the month following the receipt of the renovation notice (Section 555e – The special right of termination of the tenant in the case of modernization measures BGB). The ending takes effect by the end of the second month from the month of receipt of the notification. For example, if the landlord informs you about the modernization in January, you can announce the termination of the contract in February. The apartment rent ends by the end of March. Minor repairs do not shorten the notice period.
2. Rent increase
If the landlord increases the rent, you can terminate the rental contract. The deadline for termination is until the end of the second month after receiving the landlord’s notice. It becomes effective at the end of the second month. In this case, you pay the same rent amount until the termination of the contract (Section 561 – The Special right of termination of the tenant after rent increase BGB).
3. Health hazard
If mold or dilapidation appears in the apartment, it sometimes poses a danger to the health of the residents. In case of this, the notice period does not apply (Section 543 – Extraordinary termination without notice for good cause BGB).
4. Death of the tenant
In case when an apartment or house is rented together by both tenants, and one tenant dies, another can terminate the rental contract. This must be done at most one month after the death of tenant. This termination is with the statutory notice period (Section 563a – Continuation with surviving tenants BGB). Otherwise, the rent remains in effect with the remaining tenant. If only one tenant is the primary tenant and that tenant dies, the occupancy right is automatically transferred to the living tenant. If the tenant lived alone, the right of occupancy passes to the heirs. The heirs, if they do not want to move into the apartment, can submit termination of the rental contract with a notice period of three months (Section 564 – Continuation of the tenancy with the heir, extraordinary termination BGB). Heirs do not have to present inheritance documents to the landlord.
Insults, slander, or even physical attacks against the tenant are consequential reasons for termination without notice.
What when You Want to Move Out Early?
As a tenant, you will have to pay the rent for the apartment until the notice period expires. Even if you move out early, you still must pay rent until the notice period expires. And in case you suggest a new tenant, that doesn’t change anything either. Your landlord may or may not accept a new tenant.
However, it is different if there is a so-called “Nachmieterklausel” in the rental agreement. In English, it can be translated as a Subtenancy clause. When your contract contains this Subtenancy clause, you can shorten the notice period by proposing several new tenants.
In this case, if you move out before the expiration of the notice, and your landlord hands over the apartment to a new tenant before your contract has expired, the landlord may collect rent only from the new tenant (Section 537 – Payment of rent if the tenant is personally prevented BGB). Even if the landlord, after you move out before the expiration of the notice period, thoroughly renovates the apartment, you are no longer obligated to pay him from the day you move out.
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