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Much like the checklist you had moving into your apartment, there is a checklist for moving out as well. Perhaps you’re an expat who is moving on to a new country, or even better, you’ve fallen in love with Germany and are buying a house and planting those roots. Either way, you need to give your landlord notice of moving.
Rob Lederman from The Property Guy Germany is here to tell us more about the 5-step process to properly moving out of your apartment in Germany (trust us, it’s not as easy as you may think).
Unfortunately, no matter where you live, moving is a hassle. But here, we often have the added stress of language and cultural barriers. The good news is that moving out doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Knowing a few basic points about how things work here will go a long way in reducing your stress, and more importantly preserving your budget.
Here are the 5 steps to follow when moving out of your apartment.
- Give notice
- Cancel all your utilities
- Arrange painters
- Arrange the handover appointment
1 – Giving notice
Unless your lease says something different, the standard period to end a lease is 3 months. More importantly, it needs to be in writing. More than a few people have been caught on this one. They email the landlord saying that they are moving. He writes back and says thank you very much. Fast forward to the moving date and suddenly there is an issue about how much notice was given. So, no matter how well you get along with your landlord, always provide your notice in writing.
If you need help writing a notice letter (in German) to your landlord, Aboalarm offers a prefilled letter where you simply need to fill in the blanks – booyah!
I would even go as far as to send it by registered post (Einschreiben). From a legal point of view, it’s not when the landlord receives the notice, but when it was sent. To get the proper text use, you can download this helpful template on Kündigungschreiben-Vorlage.de.
2 – Cancel all your utilities
The next step is to cancel all your utilities. Get in touch with all your suppliers to let them know you are moving. This is a fairly straightforward process and can often be done online.
- Cancel your internet contract *more notes below
- Cancel your electricity contract
- Cancel your TV contract
- Perhaps even cancel your phone contract
If you can’t do it online, then you can also use a service like AboAlarm to simply fill-in-the-blanks and send the letter onward.
Cancel your internet contract
This one is a bit more tricky to do due to the auto-renewing nature of German contracts. The issue is often based on whether or not you have reached the minimum period of your contract (usually 2 years). However, now, you can cancel… but it all comes down to when and how you cancel your contract. You can get more information on how to write up this cancellation letter over at dslweb.de. The cancellation should always be done by post.
Oh and make sure you get the right address, I got caught out on this once before and had to pay a couple of extra months as I sent it to the wrong address. The customer service address should be listed on the bill or in the companies’ AGBs (Terms and Conditions). Just search for “Kundigung” you’ll find the details there.
Tip: Often times you can cancel by claiming “Sonderkündigung” meaning you are moving outside of the service area. I did this with M-Net in Munich, as they were not able to provide DSL services in Frankfurt I was able to claim.
3 – Arrange painters
If your lease specifies that the unit must be painted prior to leaving and you don’t wish to do it yourself… then betreut.de, Blauarbeit.de, and Myhammer.de are 3 places where you can easily get quotes online. Do be careful with hiring cheap/”under the table” painters. More than one person has had their deposit dinged when the company insisted on having it done properly!
You can paint yourself but again it must be to the landlord’s satisfaction.
4 – Arrange the handover appointment
This is the most important point of all of them. The final step in returning the apartment is the final inspection. In this case, the landlord or their agent will do a walkthrough of the unit making a note of any wear & tear and damage, as well as meter readings. This is the main point of contention for many people. After the handover, they get a letter demanding money for damages, usually the full deposit plus some extra. So, it is extremely important that you discuss any issues with the person doing the inspection.
5 – Deposit
Talk with your landlord to determine when and how you will get your deposit back. There is, unfortunately, no maximum legal timeline for the landlord to return the money, although 4 weeks after is considered reasonable. The landlord will also keep back a portion of the deposit to settle the nebenkosten/additional fees at the end of the year.
I also wrote a short guide Tricks and Bricks Germany Expat Guide to Renting. Here I go into more detail on how renting works and the pitfalls to avoid. It’s free and available over at The Property Guy Germany.
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