Chapters of the article
Handover protocol at the start of the lease
One of the prerequisites for future good relations between landlord and tenant is the conclusion of a well-drafted handover protocol. A matter that takes no more than an hour of our time can save us many hours and weeks of dispute resolution and consultations with lawyers. This is a document that shows in writing the condition of the property at the time it is handed over to the tenant. The handover report must be in writing and signed by both parties.
In particular, the handover report must state:
- Identification details of both parties (in particular name and residence). If one of the parties is represented by a power of attorney at the conclusion of the handover report, the power of attorney should form an annex to the handover report.
- Identification of the property which is the subject of the lease agreement and its exact address, apartment number and size.
- Adeclaration by the landlord that he is handing over the apartment to the tenant for use and a declaration by the tenant that he accepts the apartment for use.
- A general description of the apartment and its condition.
- Aninventory of the furnishings of the apartment and the condition in which it is located.
- The meterreadings (gas, electricity and water meters), including their serial numbers.
- Thenumber of keys given to the tenant for the apartment and common areas.
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As for the inventory of the apartment’s furnishings and their condition, there is certainly no need to describe every knife scratch on the kitchen counter; instead, a general description such as “normally worn” or “new” will suffice. However, if the lease will include an old, well-preserved secretary from the century before last, it is worth describing it in a little more detail (e.g. no signs of wear, chipped veneer in the back right corner). If the furniture or small decorations are in several pieces, it is worth adding the numbers (4 dining chairs) so that there are no doubts later. It is also a good idea to demonstrate and record the functionality of the appliances as part of the handover agreement (as well as the acceptance of the apartment). If possible, try at least a short programme so that both parties can see that everything works as it should.
Ideally, the verbal description should be supplemented by photographs, which usually say much more than dozens of words. Photos should be taken by the landlord with a mobile phone and then emailed to the tenant.
Keys are a very important part of the handover protocol, which, paradoxically, is sometimes forgotten. However, arguing at the end of the tenancy about whether or not you handed over (or received) two or three bundles of keys and whether or not the basement keys were on them is not helpful. Therefore: what is written is given. Write down the different types of keys, their numbers and ideally test everything on site so that there are no doubts.
A handover report is not legally obligatory and does not have to form part of the rental agreement. It is therefore up to the will of the parties whether or not to draw up a handover report. However, by drawing up a correct and complete handover protocol, various future disputes between landlord and tenant can be avoided. For this reason, it is a good idea to pay close attention to the drafting of the handover protocol.
The importance of the handover report in compensation
The importance of the initial and final handover report is primarily for proving any damages. Unless there is a (relatively rare) situation where the landlord and the tenant agree on the amount of damage and its fault, it is necessary to prove the existence of the damage and the amount of compensation properly. This can be significantly assisted by the handover report, together with photographs or a video recording. By comparing the current condition with the ‘archive’ photographs or video, it can be shown whether, for example, the floor, kitchen units, walls etc. have been damaged.
If both the landlord and the tenant agree on the damage, it is sufficient to describe it in the report, add a deadline for the completion of the obligations and add the date and signatures of both parties.
Tip: Are you a tenant in an apartment and need to end your lease? If you can’t reach an agreement with your landlord, you can terminate your lease. Do you have the option to terminate directly in your contract? What will be the length of the notice period? We have answered these and other questions in our separate article.
Handover protocol at the end of the lease
This protocol is very similar in form and purpose to the previous protocol. Sometimes, for simplicity, only one protocol is drawn up, with a manual note at the end to check that the information still corresponds. However, the result can be so opaque that this procedure is not recommended. However, it is a good idea to keep the original protocol to hand and to base the structure on it. That way you can immediately see the comparison with the original state, which you can then address.
Agree in advance in the lease agreement what condition the property is to be handed over in, so that there is no confusion on handover day. In particular, the changes that the tenant has made to the apartment. If it is a long-term tenancy, you can expect them to have their own paintings on the walls, change the furniture arrangement and generally personalise the flat. He can certainly do that, but the landlord is instead entitled to demand restoration to its original state, including the plugging of holes in the walls and new painting. He is legally entitled to do so. The only exception is if the landlord explicitly states that the removal of the alterations is not necessary.
If you anticipate problems during the handover, we recommend that you invite a witness to witness this. Once problems have arisen, do not hesitate to contact a solicitor.
Handover protocol for the sale of a house
Ahandover clause should also be an integral part of the property purchase contract, as it clearly states when the new owner can start using the house. For the purpose of handover, a so-called handover protocol should be drawn up, which you will then follow.
It is based on the identification of the seller, the buyer and the property being sold. The protocol should then describe what is in the apartment (appliances, built-in wardrobes, etc.), what keys to the property have been handed over and, of course, the status of the individual meters, i.e. the meter number and its current status on the handover date, should not be missing in this type of handover protocol either.
The importance of this type of protocol is primarily that it serves as evidence for the moment from which the new owner takes over responsibility for the property, including any costs related to, for example, an insurance claim, etc. Until the property is handed over, the seller is responsible for everything.
Tip: Selling a home is a once-in-a-lifetime deal for many of us. We certainly don’t want to risk the inconvenience that could result from a poorly drafted purchase agreement or neglect of other legalities. Check out our article for all the important steps in the process of selling an apartment.