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What do I need to know when I give my landlord notice?

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Both tenants and landlords are subject to strict rules on the termination of rental agreements. If you do not observe the legal requirements or the terms of the rental agreement, you could get yourself into real trouble or even find yourself out on the street. Here you can learn what you need to know about terminating your lease.

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    Andrea Pestalozzi

    Andrea Pestalozzi, a legal expert at AXA-ARAG, answers the most important questions about notice periods, finding a replacement tenant and handing over an apartment. She also provides tips on what to do in the event of wrongful termination of your rental agreement.

What can I do in the case of wrongful termination of my rental agreement by my landlord?

You can challenge termination of your lease agreement with the responsible arbitration board for tenancy matters within 30 days of receiving notice. At the same time, you can request to have the agreement extended.

What notice periods apply for rental apartments?

Normally, the notice period and deadlines for giving notice are set out in your rental agreement. The notice period may not be shorter than the minimum period set by law, which is three months for residential properties. 

When does a landlord have a right of extraordinary termination?

Extraordinary termination is permitted for good cause  if this means the lease cannot reasonably be expected to be fulfilled. In this case, the lease can be terminated at any time, provided the statutory notice period is observed (at least three months for apartments – the exact notice period is in your rental agreement). The consequences under property law are determined by a judge. However, termination for good cause is rare because the definition of “good cause” sets the bar very high.

Other reasons for extraordinary termination include bankruptcy of the tenant or sale of the property.  You can find tips on extraordinary termination here.

When does my landlord have the right to terminate the lease on my apartment without notice?

Your landlord can terminate your rental agreement without notice if you deliberately cause serious damage to the apartment.

The general principle is: Rental agreements for residential and commercial properties can be terminated by giving 30 days’ notice at the end of the month if you continue to disregard your duty of care and consideration even after receiving a warning.

Your landlord can also terminate the agreement at the end of the month, subject to 30 days’ notice, if you owe rent and fail to pay the amount due after receiving a warning that your lease will be terminated by this deadline.  

Which rules apply for terminating rental agreements for family apartments?

A spouse may only terminate the rental agreement for the family apartment with the explicit agreement of the other spouse. What’s more, if the landlord ends the lease, a notice of termination must be delivered separately to both spouses. 

Can my landlord terminate my rental agreement without stating a reason?

Yes. However, your landlord must give reasons if asked. 

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As a tenant, what do I need to consider if I wish to break my rental agreement early? 

If you intend to end your lease early, you must notify your landlord that you are seeking early withdrawal from the agreement. You must do this in writing.  If you want to be released from your contractual obligations when you move out, you must provide your landlord with an acceptable, solvent replacement tenant. And you also need a written confirmation from your landlord stating that they are allowing you to terminate your lease early.

You can find a free template for early termination of your rental agreement and further information on MyRight. 

What happens if I move out early without finding a replacement tenant? 

Normally, you can only end your lease early if you find a replacement tenant. There are exceptions, however. In the following cases, you are not required to find a replacement tenant: 

  • Material defects in the rental property: If the property has material defects, you are allowed to end your lease immediately.
  • Death of a tenant: If the tenant dies, their heirs may terminate the lease on the next possible date.
  • Divorce
  • Burglary
  • Deterioration in your state of health

Note that this is always determined on a case-by-case basis. Divorce, for example, does not always give you the right to end your lease early without finding a replacement tenant.

By when must my landlord receive my termination notice?

Your notice must be received by your landlord no later than one day before the period of notice starts. The postmark is not decisive.

Do I – as a tenant – always have to give notice in writing?

Yes. In writing means: by letter signed by hand. It is advisable to send your letter by registered mail.

I want to end my lease. What should I put in the letter to be mailed to my landlord?

Your letter should include:

  • first and last name and full address of the tenant
  • first and last name and full address of the landlord
  • place, month, day, year
  • address of the rental property
  • cover letter to the landlord (including current date, termination date, regular or early termination, reason for moving out, suggested move-out date)
  • signature of the tenant

Is it sufficient if one tenant of a shared apartment signs the notice of termination?

Since all (joint and severally liable) tenants must jointly give notice that they are terminating the lease agreement, they must all sign the letter giving notice.

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Does my landlord have to be facing an emergency in which they need the apartment for their own use in order to terminate my lease?

No, the landlord is not required to be in any dire situation in order to terminate your lease. 

As a tenant, how can I challenge wrongful termination of my lease agreement?

You can challenge termination of your rental agreement if it is contrary to the principle of good faith. That means you have been given notice because you enforced claims arising from the rental agreement, for example if your landlord endeavored to enforce a unilateral change that is detrimental to you or to change the rent, or because of a change in your family circumstances that does not have any serious disadvantages for your landlord. 

Do I have to accept notice of termination by phone?

No, if notice is only given by phone it is not valid. Your landlord is required to give notice using an official form. Tenants have to give notice in writing. 

Can I challenge notice of termination for personal use?

You can challenge termination of your rental agreement if it is contrary to the principle of good faith. This is examined on a case-by-case basis. If you intend to challenge the termination of your rental agreement, you must do so within 30 days of  ab  receiving the notice of termination.

Under what circumstances can I extend the period of notice?

You can request to extend your lease if termination would place you in a situation of  hardship  which is not justified by the landlord's interests. You can submit a request for an extension to the arbitration board for tenancy matters within 30 days ab  of receiving notice.

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Can I suggest a colleague as a replacement tenant for my apartment?

If you terminate your rental agreement early, you are entitled to suggest a replacement tenant. If you suggest an acceptable, solvent tenant who can take over your lease on the date you intend to end your lease, your obligation to pay rent ends on this date.

Am I required to suggest several potential replacement tenants?

One acceptable, solvent tenant who actually takes over the lease is sufficient. However, since it is often uncertain whether the suggested tenant meets these criteria and will actually take over the lease, we recommend that you suggest several people.

When can a landlord reject a suggested replacement tenant?

If the tenant is not solvent, or is not acceptable based on reasonable grounds.

What criteria does a suggested replacement tenant have to fulfill to be deemed “reasonably acceptable”?

Based on objective criteria, the tenant must be reasonably acceptable as regards the criteria for the specific rental property (use, specific contractual obligations, etc.). The landlord may not impose different or stricter requirements on the tenant taking over the lease than were placed on the present tenant.

If I break my lease early, do I also have to find a replacement tenant for my car parking space?


I notified my landlord I would not be renewing my lease once it expired. Now my landlord has set a viewing date for prospective tenants without consulting me. Can they do that?

Your landlord is entitled to advertise the rental property and arrange for it to be viewed by prospective tenants if this is necessary to relet the apartment. However, you must be notified in advance of the viewing dates and they must be agreed with you.

What if I cannot find anyone to take over my rental agreement?

If you terminate your lease, but can’t find a replacement tenant, then you are required to pay rent until your lease ends – with effect from the next possible termination date following submission of notice of termination.

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What is meant by handing over an apartment in “broom clean” condition?

This means that you do not have to carry out a full and complete cleaning of the apartment as would normally be the case. However, the kitchen and bathroom must be cleaned thoroughly. You must make sure there are no food remains or hard water stains. The floors must be wiped and you must remove any large stains, cobwebs, etc. If the property has to be handed over “broom clean,” you do not have to clean windows or rolling shutters.

My rental agreement does not contain any specifications for handover. How thoroughly do I need to clean my apartment?

If the rental agreement does not give any details, you must return the apartment in a well-cleaned  condition.

What is meant by “minor maintenance and repairs”? What do I have to repair when I move out?

Minor maintenance and repairs means work that you can perform yourself without any special skills, for example, replacing a light bulb or shower head. You also have to replace small items such as toothbrush glasses and refrigerator drawers at your own expense.

What is considered a defect when I return the apartment?

Defects are damage that goes beyond normal wear and tear and has occurred since you moved in. Damage that goes beyond normal wear and tear means damage that would not have occurred in the course of careful use.

Can my landlord have the apartment painted at my expense when I move out?

If the paintwork still has a present value and shows signs of defects that are not due to normal wear and tear (e.g. children's drawings), you must pay the cost of painting up to the present value. After you end your lease, if a special nicotine paint is required because you smoked in the apartment, you are responsible for the full cost.

What happens to my rental guarantee insurance when I move out of my apartment?

If you have AXA rental guarantee insurance, then when your lease ends, we will inspect the apartment to see if we will be responsible for paying for any damages or if your personal liability insurance will cover them. If you have already paid your annual premium, then we will prorate your refund. But not until after we've talked to your landlord. If they have no complaints, then you can cancel your rental guarantee insurance.

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