Apartment handover: preparation

Preparing well for the apartment handover will save you lots of trouble. Find out about the best way to approach it here.

Start preparing for the handover a few weeks before. There is lots that can be done in advance. This helps achieve a stress-free handover.

This is what to do:

Look for the handover protocol and, if available, the copy of the deficiencies.

Note what has been damaged in the intervening years (cf. the article Service Life Table). What have you changed in the apartment? What will the next tenant take over? What do you need to repair or return to its original state?

Decide who will clean the apartment. If you use a cleaning company, request an estimate with a handover acceptance guarantee. If you decide to clean it yourself, organise all the required products and materials: mild soap, soft cleaning rags, rug shampoo machine, parquet polish, etc. (cf. the article Cleaning tips).

At the start of the rental period, the tenant and landlord should together prepare an inventory and condition report. It should list and record in writing all damage.

The tenant should keep in mind that the report prevents him, when he moves out, from paying for damage the previous tenant had caused.

Report other defects by registered letter

Defects which are not noticed during the handover should be reported to the landlord, depending on the rental contract, from 10 to 30 days after taking over the apartment, doing so in writing using a registered letter.

Defects to be fixed by the landlord

The landlord must fix moderate and serious defects. These include non-operational technical equipment and appliances, peeling wallpaper, bugs and vermin. Apartments with extreme mould infestation and those which in winter, even with the heating system turned on, do not get warmer than 17 degrees C are considered uninhabitable. You should agree with the landlord in writing on a deadline by which such defects will be repaired.

Rent reduction as a result of defects

In the event the landlord does not keep his promises concerning the repair of medium to serious defects, the tenant should establish a grace period in writing and do so with a registered letter.

At the same time, he should demand a rent reduction and inform the landlord that following the grace period he will deposit the rent with the conciliation board. You should not make any such deductions on your own account but should instead turn to the Tenants' Association or the conciliation authorities.

Is the apartment in its original state?

When you take over something from a previous tenant, keep in mind that when you move out, in certain circumstances you will be required to bring it back to its original state. This can become a problem if, for example, the previous tenant painted some walls dark brown or if there is wall-to-wall carpeting that he glued or nailed down.

The best approach is to set down in writing which party is liable to the landlord for what and have this agreement signed by everyone (that means by both the previous and new tenant as well as the landlord).

An apartment must be handed over on the last day of the term of tenancy during normal business hours. It is recommended that you agree on a handover date with the landlord in good time. During the apartment handover, the tenant must return all keys (including copies).

Vacating and cleaning

On the day when handing over the apartment, not only the apartment itself must be completely cleared out and thoroughly cleaned, but the same applies to any ancillary rooms (basement, attic, garage, etc.). Without a corresponding agreement in the rental contract, the tenant can do the cleaning himself or have it done by a cleaning service.

With a cleaning service, the agreed fixed price should contain a handover guarantee. During the handover, a representative of the cleaning service should always be present so that any remaining cleaning can be done immediately.

Inventory and condition report

When returning residential property, a joint inventory and condition report must be prepared. This report lists everything in the apartment which is not in proper order. Defects must be described as exactly as possible. Defects listed in the report as being the responsibility of the tenant and which is then signed by him are then considered acknowledged by the tenant.

Provisions in the list of defects

Sign the inventory and condition report only when you understand everything in it. If uncertain about something, don't sign it or do so only with a clearly stated provision. In this case, also make a statement concerning the items not acceptable to you with a registered letter, and perhaps even turn to the local Tenants' Association.

Retain all records including a copy of the report as signed and dated by you and the landlord as well as copies of your letters along with receipts for registered post. There is no legal requirement to sign a handover report. If the landlord declines to accept the apartment, send him the keys in a registered letter.