Housing Guide: What’s important with an apartment handover?

Housing Guide: What’s important with an apartment handover?

Most people can hardly wait to move into their new apartment. Before the move can get underway, the new place must be thoroughly inspected during the handover. But what do you have to look out for? And how should the old apartment be left? To avoid unnecessary conflicts and problems, we’ve gathered the most important information.


Before moving in – keep an eye out!

The handover of the apartment is an integral part of the contact between tenant and landlord (or property management) both when moving in and when moving out. Landlords hand the apartment over to the tenants for use in accordance with the contract. The primary focus of the handover is to document the condition of the apartment.

The apartment’s condition as well as complaints and damages are recorded in the handover protocol. Meter readings should also be recorded as well as the number of sets of keys handed over.            Here is a checklist for the inspection:

  • Recording of all persons present by signature
  • Apartment inspection always during daylight hours
  • Key count for accuracy
  • Recording of defects by camera
  • Light switch and socket test
  • Inspection of waterlines and connections (to turn off the main tap if necessary)
  • Inspection of water meters, radiators, gas and electricity meters
  • Inspection of whether all windows and doors can be closed in accordance with regulations


When does the handover protocol apply?

The protocol is not obligatory but can still be quite important. It serves as a strong argument in the event of disagreements because the document records the exact condition of the flat at the time of  the handover. If the protocol is signed, it is also valid as a document in court.


What are defects and normal signs of use?

Sometimes disagreements can arise during the handover due to complaints concerning damage or defects in the new apartment. A distinction should always be made between serious damage and normal signs of use or wear and tear. (There are exceptions in the event of a direct handover between the old and new tenants, which is not an actual handover of the apartment, but a “handover to the new tenant”).

  • Serious damage refers to defects in the fabric of the building and impairments that affect the use of the apartment, such as water damage or large holes in the walls. It makes sense to note these defects and photos in the handover protocol so that they can be remedied promptly.
  • Superficial defects that do not impair functionality and only require improvement in aesthetics are considered normal wear and tear. Tenants are not entitled to have these defects remedied. This includes, for example, walls and floors discoloured by light, small scratches in the floor and drill holes, etc.


Before moving out: condition of the apartment upon handover

Before moving out, it is also advisable to inspect the apartment carefully and check for defects and/or signs of wear and tear. You should also make sure in which condition the flat is to be handed over to the landlord/owner.

  • “Clean swept”: the tenant must sweep and vacuum the apartment. Painting walls and removing wallpaper is not necessary. If the walls were white when handed over, they may not be returned in black or dark blue.
  • “Proper condition”: the tenant must repair gross defects and damage when moving out.
  • “Contractual condition”: when moving out, one must adhere to the contractually regulated agreements.


Additional costs

After handover, additional costs can be incurred for both tenants and landlords.

  • If the tenant is unable to move in on the agreed date, the landlord may incur additional costs, such as for a hotel stay or extra costs for moving.
  • If the apartment is not returned on time, tenants may be liable for damages.



Please note: This article constitutes neither legal advice nor binding legal information but is merely an indicative overview that cannot consider the specific circumstances of each individual case.


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