Most rental contracts regulate precisely when the handover of the apartment must take place. In Zurich and Bern, for example, it is usual to hand over the apartment by 12 noon on the day after the end of the lease. In other cantons, it is the last day of the contract.
If the normal handover date is on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, then the handover is moved to the next workday. If the time of the handover is not stated in the contract, then the last day of the contract at 6.00 p.m. is the handover time.
Condition of the apartment
In most cantons, the apartment must be thoroughly cleaned before the handover. You can do this yourself or you can hire a professional cleaning company. Request several offers from cleaning companies and request an acceptance guarantee. With the guarantee, the company takes responsibility if further cleaning is required.
Small repairs are the responsibility of the tenant and should be taken care of before the handover. Screws, nails, hooks, etc., must be removed and holes must be carefully patched. Glue and self-adhesive residue should be carefully removed. Taps and outlets must be decalcified.
Changes to the apartment
Anyone who makes changes to the apartment (e.g., extraordinary paint colours, removing a wall, etc.) without the agreement of the owner is basically obligated to return the apartment to its original condition. Therefore, talk with the owner beforehand, perhaps he will accept the changes.
In most cases, the handover inspection is conducted together with the owner/agent. The main focus of the apartment handover is the inspection protocol. This lists all the defects and deficiencies found and it usually also states whether the tenant is responsible for the damage.
The owner can only request compensation for damages that are listed in the inspection protocol. Therefore, it is important to read the protocol carefully before you sign it. As a tenant, you should not sign the protocol when it contains costs for you to cover that are not clear according to the laws governing rentals.
There is no legal obligation to sign the inspection protocol when returning an apartment. If the owner refuses to accept the apartment, then send him the key by registered post.
As a tenant, you are only responsible for damages that you have caused. You are not liable for defects that were already there at the start of the contract. If you and the owner are not in agreement on whether the damage is from the previous tenant, then the owner must prove that you caused the damage. For normal use or damage to furnishings or fittings whose service life has expired, the tenant cannot be held liable.
If no damages are found that you must pay for, then at the end of the inspection, you should request that the owner release your deposit.