Here are some practical tips for moving out of your apartment in Germany, from terminating your lease to forwarding your mail.
1. Give notice to the landlord
You can do this at any stage in the contract by writing to the landlord or property management company. Although there is no minimum period that you have to stay you must abide by the relevant notice period, usually 2 – 3 months. The maximum notice period by law is 3 months, so you can disregard any clauses in your contract that state a longer period.
If your rental agreement is for a fixed period then you can move out at the end of this without giving any notice separately. However, you should inform your landlord as a courtesy that this is what you intend to do.
2. Clean the apartment
Give the apartment a thorough clean to minimise any deductions to your deposit. Also bear in mind that tenants must leave the apartment in the same condition as it was when they moved in. This can include things like painting the walls.
3. Final utility bills
If you have dealt directly with water and electricity providers you should take meter readings and provide these to the respective companies. Also inform the telephone, Internet providers etc. that you are terminating the contracts and settle any remaining balances. It is advisable to contact companies at least one month before your leaving date. Bear in mind that if you are tied into a contract you may have to continue paying for the remainder of this.
Confirm the condition of the apartment at the time of leaving, in consultation with the inventory and the list of defects that you agreed with the landlord or property management agent when you moved in.
5. Redirect your mail
The German Post Office can forward your mail for 6 or 12-month periods (approximately EUR15 or EUR25). It is worth availing of this just in case any important post comes to the apartment after you have left.
6. Keep your German bank account open
This will allow you to receive your deposit from the landlord or property company, although some letting companies may be able to arrange an international bank transfer. Keeping your bank account open is also advisable in case there are any remaining utility bills to settle. You can then ask your bank to close the account on a certain date after your departure. When doing this it is sensible to provide them with a contact address and your new banking information.
If you have lived in your municipality for more than 3 months you will originally have registered (Anmeldung) with the residence bureau (Einwohnermeldeamt). Upon leaving if you are exiting Germany you will need to deregister (Abmeldung). However, this is not necessary if you are staying in the country as the authorities in your new municipality will advise their counterparts of your arrival.
8. Turn off everything
Make sure that all appliances are off and unplugged. This includes the gas, fridge, and freezer.
9. Return the key
Give this back to the landlord or the property management company.
10. Get that deposit back
Your deposit sits in a third-party account for the duration of your tenancy. The landlord refunds the amount (normally 2 – 3 times your rent), minus any deductions for damages due to negligence, improper heating, or ventilation during your stay. That’s it!