The Dreaded Swiss Apartment Handover: What to Expect and How to Prepare
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The Dreaded Swiss Apartment Handover: What to Expect and How to Prepare

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If you're an expat in Switzerland, you've no doubt come across the dreaded apartment handover. This process can be time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating, but with a bit of preparation, it doesn't have to be too bad. Here are a few tips to help make things go as smoothly as possible.

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Swept clean vs. really clean

When moving into a new Swiss apartment, you need to be aware of the standard of cleanliness required at handover. This is known as "swept clean," and the German term for "tidy." The good news is that the cost of cleaning everything else is covered by a flat rate fixed in your rental contract.

However, be aware that there's a big difference between "swept clean" and a thorough clean - known as Grundreinigung. This includes any home area that requires a thorough cleaning, such as tiles, chrome, air vents, and carpets in the bathroom (and parquet floors). So if your place isn't up to scratch when you move in, don't worry - it can be sorted out with some elbow grease!

What condition should my apartment be in when I hand it over?

When you hand over your apartment to the next tenant, it should be clean and in good condition. This means you must replace any light bulbs that are burnt out, buy a new toilet seat if necessary and fill in any holes in the walls. You may also need to fix minor damages such as changing a light bulb or repairing a hole. However, some repairs will require specialist help, so you should request that a tradesperson is hired to fix any damages before handing over your apartment. You will be liable for lost rent if the damage is discovered during the handover.

My insurance covers which types of damage?

Many things can happen to your rental property while you're living in it, and most of them are probably not covered by your standard home insurance policy. That's why it's essential to read through your policy details and contact your provider if you have any questions.

Some common damages that are typically not covered include:

  • Wear and tear

  • Mold or mildew

  • Damage caused by pets

  • Damage caused by a tenant's guests

  • Theft or damage from natural disasters

However, most policies will cover damage from an unexpected event, like a fire or burst pipe. So check with your insurer before signing up for a policy to see what is and isn't covered.

What do I've to consider when handing over the apartment, and what documents should I take with me

When handing over the apartment, you should always be present to ensure that you did no damage. In addition, make sure to have a copy of the handover protocol so that any defects noted during your move-in can be verified as preexisting. If there are any elements of the handover protocol that you object to, do not sign it and do not move into the apartment until they are addressed by your landlord or management company.

Apart from ensuring a smooth transition, another essential reason for being present during handover is to have an opportunity to check whether all minor maintenance work has been carried out satisfactorily before you vacate the property.

This includes checking taps and sinks for drips, electrical outlets for proper functioning and sufficient wattage, light bulbs in all fixtures, windows and doors for proper locking mechanisms, etc.

It's also advisable to take out personal liability insurance before moving to cover accidental damage caused by yourself or your household members. This insurance will also come in handy if you choose not to follow the new handover protocol agreed upon with your landlord or management company. Finally, make sure you read through your lease agreement carefully to be aware of your rights and obligations as a tenant.

What should I consider before signing the apartment transfer paperwork?When you're handed the protocol to sign, it's important to remember a few key things:

  • The protocol is a legal document. You should only sign it if all the damage is real and you agree to pay for any repairs or damages.

  • If there are any aspects of the protocol that you disagree with, do not sign it. This includes anything about your security deposit or returning the keys.

  • If a conflict forces people to leave their homes, consider donating money to help refugees instead of signing a handover agreement without reading it first. It's essential to be aware of what you agree to before putting your signature on anything.

Lease contracts can often be complicated, but our team at Packimpex is here to help make the process easier. We have decades of experience with Swiss rental properties and can provide expert advice on everything from finding an apartment to completing the handover process smoothly. Please don't go through this transition alone--let us help guide you every step of the way!

Is it possible for me to refuse to have the damage reimbursed against my deposit?

If the tenant is not responsible for the damage, they may refuse to have it offset against their deposit. In this case, the tenant should send a letter to their landlord that they are not liable for the damage and do not want it to be deducted from their security deposit. If there is any legal dispute over who is responsible for the damages, your liability insurance will likely cover it. However, if you are negligent in causing the damage (e.g., leaving a window open during a storm), your insurer will likely not cover you.

Hiring a Professional

When it comes time to hand over your Swiss apartment, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First and foremost, getting at least three quotes from different moving companies is important before deciding. You want to ensure that you are comfortable with the company you choose and that they will be professional and respectful throughout the move. Additionally, be sure to look carefully at what is included in each quote- some movers may offer a lower price but charge for additional services like packing or unpacking. If you are not comfortable with this, our professional team of housing experts at Packimpex can help you with this transition.


Thank you for reading! We hope this article provides helpful tips for those preparing to move out of their Swiss apartment. Remember, it's essential to contact your landlord beforehand to ensure any damages or maintenance concerns are addressed and that the final inspection goes as smoothly as possible.

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