Terminated by the landlord: Reasons, limitations and how to check

Last updated 19 August 2020

Tenants in Germany are protected by law against arbitrary termination by landlords. For a termination to be lawful, it must therefore meet certain criteria. You can find out here what conditions must be met for termination by the landlord and how you can easily have your termination checked online and free of charge.

Permissible reasons for termination

In principle, a landlord may only terminate the lease if he has a legitimate interest in the termination of the lease. This does not include either seeking an increase in rent from the landlord or a reduction of rent by the tenant by means of a rent brake. Neither shall a sale or an intention to sell on the part of the Lessor be deemed to be justified grounds for terminating the rental relationship.
The law considers the following reasons to be justified:

  1. Breach of duty: You have culpably and significantly breached your contractual obligations as a tenant.
  2. Own consumption: The landlord registers own use because he needs the apartment for himself, family members or members of his household.
  3. Economic efficiency: The continuation of the tenancy prevents the landlord from making economic use of the property.

In the case of a few types of tenancy, the special protection for tenants does not apply, i.e. landlords do not have to prove that one of the above-mentioned reasons is fulfilled. The following tenancies are among the exceptions:

  1. The living space is rented out for temporary use only.
  2. A furnished room is rented out and the landlord lives in the flat himself.
  3. The living space is located within student or youth hostels.

Even if the landlord's notice of termination is justified, a tenant may object to the termination due to a hardship case.

1. Breach of duty

By signing the rental agreement, the tenant undertakes to use the apartment only within the framework agreed in the rental agreement. If the tenant violates the contractual agreements to a considerable extent, the landlord has the right to terminate the tenant. In the case of particularly serious breaches of contract, even a single breach is sufficient for termination. As a rule, however, the landlord should have pointed out the misconduct and the consequences of a possible termination by means of a warning before termination.
Frequently, breaches of contract are for example:

  • Violation of the applicable house rules
  • subletting the rental property to third parties without the consent or knowledge of the lessor (for example via Airbnb)
  • Delayed payment of rent or rent arrears - This is one of the most common breaches of contract and a termination due to actual rent arrears is usually legal!
  • Running a non-permitted, outwardly recognizable business
  • Keeping of a pet animal despite existing, lawful prohibition
  • Overcrowding of the apartment
  • disturbance of domestic peace: insult, noise, drugs, health hazard
  • The tenant neglects the rental apartment

When giving notice of termination, the Lessor must comply with the statutory periods of notice. Under certain circumstances, however, termination without notice is also possible.

2. Own consumption

If a landlord needs the rooms as an apartment for himself, his family members or members of his household, he may terminate the contract for personal use. An exception is only made if the right to give notice of personal use is excluded in the rental agreement.
A notice of notice for personal use by family members is possible if they are related to the landlord up to the third degree or are related by marriage up to the second degree. This includes:

  • children, stepchildren, parents, grandchildren, grandparents
  • Siblings, nieces and nephews
  • Partners, spouses, ex-spouses, parents-in-law
  • brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law and cousins.

Termination for personal use is also possible if the following members of the landlord's household need the apartment:

  • Life partner
  • Children of the partner
  • Foster children
  • Domestic workers (permanent nannies, carers and domestic help).

Under certain circumstances, it may also be possible to terminate the contract for personal use if distant relatives or dependents are to move into the apartment. In this case, however, a close personal relationship with the landlord must be proven.
In the case of a notice of termination due to personal use, the landlord must observe the statutory periods.

3. Economic efficiency

While the law expressly excludes termination for the purpose of increasing the rent, termination for other economic reasons is possible. Termination by the landlord for economic reasons is permitted if he would suffer considerable economic disadvantages as a result of continuing the tenancy. For example, if a landlord could sell his vacant apartment building for twice the price compared to the rented condition, termination for reasons of economic exploitation may be effective.
In this case, the landlord has to prove the considerable disadvantages in a comprehensible way. References to empirical values or blanket information from a real estate agent are not sufficient for this purpose. Landlords usually state this reason if the residential building is to be fundamentally renovated, demolished or sold.
In the event of termination for economic reasons, the landlord must adhere to the statutory periods.

Termination periods

In principle, the landlord must give notice of termination in accordance with the statutory periods of notice. These depend on the duration of the tenancy:

  • up to 5 years contract duration: 3 months,
  • 5 to under 8 years contract duration: 6 months
  • after 8 years contract period: 9 months.

In order to meet the deadline, the notice of termination must be received by the 3rd working day of the month of the tenant. If the 3rd working day is a Saturday, it will be postponed to the next working day. Failure to comply with the period of receipt will result in the tenancy not being terminated until one month later.

The landlord's notice of termination is received by the tenant in due time on January 3, 2020. The lease is terminated on 31 March, 30 June or 30 September 2020, depending on the lease term. However, if the notice of termination is received late, i.e. on 7 January 2020, the lease will not be terminated until 30 April, 31 July or 31 October 2020, depending on the lease term.

In the event of serious breaches of duty, the Landlord may also be justified in terminating the lease without notice.
In addition to justified reasons and compliance with the notice period, a termination must always meet further legal and formal criteria.

What you should do if your contract has been terminated

Since the justification for termination always depends on the circumstances, tenants should have their termination checked by experts. It often turns out that a notice is invalid. In this case, notice of termination can be rejected and the apartment can be kept. Even up to 3 years after the termination, when the tenant has already moved out, compensation can still be claimed. In this case, the landlord must reimburse, for example, removal costs and additional costs for a more expensive apartment. No matter if the tenant has already moved out or not, it is worthwhile for you to have his notice checked in any case!

With CONNY, you as a tenant can have your notice of termination checked by our contract lawyers free of charge and very easily from home. If there are good chances of success for a defence, you can instruct our partner lawyers to defend your termination or to claim damages. There is no risk for you, because you only pay if we are successful for you.

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