Housing Issues

Tasks to consider when leaving your house in Germany...

Rental contract

The rental contract should state the required period of notice (kuendigungsfrist). Always give notice in writing.

If the tenancy is less than two years then the normal notice period is three months. For tenancies lasting between two and five years it is six months and over ten years requires a twelve-month notice period.

If for some reason the required notice period cannot be adhered to, the landlord has the right to charge a fee (weitervermietungsaufwand) to cover costs (such as advertising for a replacement tenant). However, most landlords will agree to waive this if a suitable new tenant (nachmieter) can be found to take over the contract.

Tenants pay a deposit at the start of the rental period (usually equivalent to one to three months' rent) which should be returned with interest at the end of the rental period. Any damage or repair costs are deducted from this deposit. Deductions will be made if the property is not in the same state as when it was rented.

Property sales

German law dictates that sellers of property sold within 10 years of purchase are liable for 15 percent capital gains tax.

It is possible to sell property privately or through estate agents. The German Real Estate Association (Immobilien Verband Deutschland, IVD) is an association of estate agents, property officials and real estate tax advisors.

  • For the German Real Estate Association website: Click here (in German)

Agents charge fees for their services. Commissions are negotiable and either the buyer or the seller pays the commission in full, or it is split between them.

The seller must be present at the signing of the sales contract. A non-German speaker may have an interpreter present if they wish. The vendor and the buyer must show official identification papers as part of the procedure.


House insurance can be cancelled once a sale is completed, and in some circumstances a partial refund may be due. It is best to cancel all insurance in writing and by recorded delivery.