Terminating a lease

A lease that is valid until further notice can be terminated by either the tenant or the landlord, as long as they observe the periods of notice. The landlord must have an acceptable reason for terminating the lease. Usually, it's not possible to terminate a fixed-term lease during the lease term.

Period of notice

You should always make the lease in written. An oral lease is also valid. An oral agreement is always valid until further notice. An oral fixed term lease is possible only if it’s for a cottage or a holiday apartment. You cannot agree on a fixed-term lease verbally, unless it concerns renting a cottage or a holiday apartment, for example.

Both the landlord and the tenant can terminate a lease that is valid until further notice if they observe the periods of notice stated in the law.

  • When the landlord terminates the lease, the period of notice is six months if the lease has lasted at least one year without interruption right before the termination. Otherwise it is three months. This landlord’s period of notice cannot be shortened by agreeing on this in the lease.
  • When the tenant terminates the lease, the period of notice is one month. The tenant’s period of notice cannot be lengthened by agreeing on this in the lease.

Unless the parties have agreed otherwise, the period of notice of the lease is calculated from the last day of the calendar month that notice is given.

The first possible date on which the period of notice can start may be specified in the lease. In this case, the period of notice cannot start any earlier than the date specified in the lease, regardless of when the lease is terminated.

As a rule, a fixed-term lease is binding on both parties for the full term, and you can only terminate it in certain special situations laid down in law. You should take this into account when you are considering a fixed-term lease.

If you terminate a fixed-term lease before the end of its term, it’s common that you have to pay compensation to the landlord. At most, this compensation can be the amount of rent you would have paid for the remaining term of lease. Among other things, the amount of the compensation depends on how long the remaining term is and how soon the landlord can find a new tenant for the apartment.

Reasons for terminating the lease and the tenant’s protection against termination

The tenant may terminate a lease that is valid until further notice at any time. You do not have to give a reason for terminating it.

If the landlord terminates the lease, a valid reason must be given. In principle, any reason the landlord gives for the termination is acceptable, as long as it is true and it does not violate against good practice in tenancy agreements.

Direct protection against termination

Direct protection against termination means that the tenant may ask the court to declare the termination invalid if

  • the termination is based on a rent raise and the rent the landlord asks for is regarded as unreasonably high; or
  • taking the tenant’s circumstances into account, terminating the lease is unfair and there is no acceptable reason for it.

You should note that if you wish to have the termination declared invalid, you must take the dispute to court. If the court accepts your claim, the lease will continue under the same conditions as before. This is not a matter that the Consumer Disputes Board can handle.

Indirect protection against termination

Indirect protection against termination means that the tenant has to move out but may receive compensation. If there was no acceptable reason for the termination, the tenant has the right to receive compensation from the landlord, for example for moving costs and the expenses of finding a new home.

Giving a notice of termination

Under the law, the notice of termination must be given to the other party in written and with proof of delivery.  The party that terminates the lease must be able to prove that the other party has received the notice, and show when the notice was given.

Many landlords use electronic service channels through which you can deliver a notice of termination. If the landlord has given instructions for terminating the lease, read the instructions and follow them as accurately as possible.

Day of moving out

Unless you have agreed otherwise, you must move out on the first working day after the day on which the lease ends. If the lease ends on a Friday, you must move out on Monday. If Monday is a public holiday, you must move out on Tuesday.

On the day you move out, you must make one half of the apartment available for the landlord’s use. On the following day, you must hand over the apartment to the landlord, making sure that it is empty and clean, and also return the keys.

You can also agree that you move out on the day on which the lease ends.

Filing a complaint and dispute resolution  

  • Claims should be submitted in written to the landlord. You can use the Complaint Assistant to draw up your complaint to the landlord, for example concerning the following situations:

    • Return of security deposit
    • Inadequate condition of the apartment
    • Contesting a claim for compensation
    • Reducing a rent increase
    • Termination/cancellation of the lease

    Making a complaint and the Complaint Assistant 

  • You should first try and resolve any problems with the landlord. If the dispute cannot be resolved, you can contact the Consumer Advisory Services and get instructions for the next steps.

    The Consumer Advisory Services

    You should note that if the landlord is a private person, the Consumer Advisory Services cannot investigate the problem or mediate in a dispute, and we can only provide advice at a general level.

    The Consumer Disputes Board can deal with most disputes over rental apartments between private individuals.