10 Things To Do Before Moving Out Of Your Apartment In Germany
Last updated: 04 Jul 2020 / by Sam Williams
When you first move to Germany, it can be tricky to get the perfect apartment. Without a SCHUFA score and no Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung from your previous landlord, not all landlords will be willing to rent their apartment.
The good news is that it doesn’t take long to build up your credit score. This opens up your options and means you can find the dream apartment more easily.
Of course, you may be moving for different reasons. Perhaps you have finished your contract in Germany and are leaving the country – or maybe you are moving to a different region with work. Whatever the reason, you will be one of many; approximately eight million Germans move home every year.
There can be a lot to think of when you’re packing up, and if you’ve never moved to a new house in Germany before, it’s even more challenging. This easy-to-follow checklist runs through the 10 things you need to make sure you do before move out of your German apartment.
#1: Give notice to the landlord
You’ll need to tell your landlord that you’ve decided to leave, but you need to plan in Germany as there’s a minimum three-month notice period. To cancel, you must inform your landlord in writing, and make sure they receive it by the third working day of the month.
If they receive the notice later than the third working day, that month will not count as part of your notice. For example, if you don’t give notice until the 9th March, your lease will expire on 30th June. By contrast, giving notice on the 2nd March means your contract would terminate on 31st May.
Some contracts allow a shorter notice period. You should check the contract terms for the Kündigungsfrist. Although this can be shorter than three months, it cannot be longer. If you are desperate to move, you may be able to leave before the expiry of the three months if you find another tenant to take over the lease. The landlord does not have to agree and can insist you remain and pay for the full three months.
If you have a fixed-term rental contract (very rare in Germany), you can just leave at the end of it without giving notice. As a matter of courtesy, you should still let your landlord know about your plans as soon as you decide.
#2: Clean the apartment and carry out any necessary maintenance
Although you will be impatient to move, you need to ensure the apartment is being left in good condition. This doesn’t just mean clean; it also means well-maintained.
You should check your rental agreement (again!) to see what it says. The phrase you are looking for is Schönheitsreparaturen. This is the clause referring to cosmetic repairs. It is normal in Germany for the tenant to be responsible for these.
Cosmetic repairs include:
- Painting – the ceiling and the walls
- Painting the floors (if applicable)
- Repairing any holes you made in the walls (picture hooks etc.)
- Painting heating pipes and radiators
- Painting interior doors and frames
Cosmetic repairs do not include:
- Replacing flooring
- Sealing or sanding parquet floors
- Repairing damage that you did not cause, such as cracks in the wall or ceiling
If your rental contract does not make you liable for cosmetic repairs, all you need to do is clean the apartment thoroughly before leaving.
You don’t need to get professional contractors to either carry out cosmetic repairs or clean. However, the repairs and the cleaning must be of at least “average quality”. If they are less than average quality, the landlord can get them redone and deduct the cost from your deposit.
#3: Sort out any final utility bills
You will need to contact all your utility providers to let them know you are leaving.
It’s a good idea to contact them about a month before you are due to leave. On the actual day of departure, all you’ll need to do is call them with your final meter readings.
The companies you should contact include gas, electricity, cable, internet provider and phone. Remember: if you signed a fixed contract, you will need to pay for the term’s duration even though you have moved out!
#4: Stop the TV tax letters
You will only need to do this if you are leaving Germany completely.
To prevent letters being sent to you about your TV tax, you need to deregister. You can do this by informing the GEZ on their website, using this form.
#5: Deregister your address
If you are going to be leaving Germany completely, you will need to deregister.
This is the opposite of the process that you completed when you moved in, the Anmeldung. When you deregister, it’s known as abmeldung. Don’t mix the two up!
If you are not leaving Germany, you do not need to de-register. When you complete the Anmeldung for your new address, it will automatically deregister your old address.
#6: Forward your mail
You might not be expecting any vital mail to arrive, but it’s a good idea to provide a means of ensuring you receive anything that’s sent, just in case. The Deutsche Post offers a cheap and convenient mail forwarding service that you can use for 6 or 12 months.
You can organize to forward your mail by either visiting the post office in person or by filling in the form online.
#7: Move your contents insurance to your new address
Contents insurance is a vital part of being protected in Germany (alongside other insurances such as car insurance and private liability insurance). However, if your insurer does not have your correct address, you could invalidate any claim.
It’s essential to change the address on the correct date. If you move the policy to your new address too early, you won’t be protected for the final days in your old apartment. If you delay moving your insurance, you could be unprotected when you’re moving into your new home.
You can contact your insurer a few days in advance and let them know you are moving. They may be able to set up the policy to switch to your new address automatically.
#8: Take an inventory
Hopefully, your landlord will be fair, but it’s a good idea to protect yourself, just in case. When you’re leaving, take an inventory of everything you’re leaving behind in the apartment and its condition.
Compare this to the inventory from when you moved in to see if anything is missing or whether any damage has occurred. It would be best if you took photographs of everything to prove your version of the inventory is correct.
By having this evidence, you can refute any false claims from the landlord for deductions from your deposit.
You might not need the proof, but it’s good to be prepared!
#9: Switch everything off and return the key
Before you leave for the final time, make sure you switch off and unplug every appliance. This includes the fridge, freezer, and gas.
This ensures the apartment is as safe as possible and prevents electricity bills from racking up. Don’t forget to make sure the fridge or freezer has been emptied and cleaned first – you won’t be popular if the next tenant arrives to a pile of rotting food!
#10: Get your deposit back
Once you’ve handed the keys back, the landlord must return your deposit. When you pay a deposit in Germany, the money sits in a third-party holding account for your tenancy duration. This provides you with some security that you will get your money back and be treated fairly.
Your landlord can deduct money from the deposit if you have breached the contract in any way. This includes failure to clean the apartment properly and carry out cosmetic repairs (if you are liable).
They can also deduct money for damage you have caused and not repaired, or any items which are either missing or damaged.