Rental property handover

Guide byPackimpex

Congratulations, you’ve found a home in Switzerland! What a breakthrough! You can stop for a moment and pat yourself on the back, but you need to quickly get ready for Phase Two of the home finding process: reviewing the lease, signing it and proceeding to the apartment handover. 

  • Carefully review your lease contract.

  • Don’t rush during the handover process, inspect closely all corners of your apartment.

Ideally, this will be the timeline of this second phase:

  • Review and accept the terms of your lease, then sign the contract. 
    The refusal to sign might entail a fine/ administrative charge.

  • Cancel all other pending applications.

  • Set up a separate bank account and transfer the security deposit at the requested time. You have the following options:

    Deposit of the money in a separate bank account in your name, blocked in favor of the owner/real estate agency. You receive interest on this money but cannot withdraw it until released by the agency upon agreeable termination of the lease. The agency will release the deposit only after the exit inspection, and once all damages (if any) have been paid for. The time frame for the release of the deposit is several months up to maximum one year.

    Contract with an agency to guarantee the funds and pay them an annual fee for this service. Contact www.swisscaution.ch for details.

    Book a rental security deposit insurance: this is an advantageous alternative to the classical security deposit account (rental deposit account) offered by banks. You pay affordable annual premiums instead of a large amount into a tenant's deposit account, thus enjoying greater security and flexibility.

  • Take over the apartment in a complex handover process together with the real estate agency representative (and, in some cases, the former tenant).

  • Apply for mandatory third-party liability insurance.

  • Apply for household insurance.

  • Apply for utilities and telecom.

The handover is of crucial importance, so here is what to look out for:

    • Don’t rush! Take your time, allow around 1 hour (even more) for the process. You will need to inspect every nook and cranny together with the real estate agent and make sure you list all potential flaws, malfunctions and items that need replacement/ repairing.

    • If you do not do this at this stage, or within 10 days of moving in, you might be liable to pay for all repairs when you move out.

    Additional need-to-knows:

    • The lease contract is in the canton's official language. Although most of the lease terms are covered by federal and cantonal law, the minimum lengths of leases and cancellation terms can vary. It is possible to be released from a contract if you present at least one candidate who formally applies to take over on a specific date. This is valid throughout Switzerland and will work if your apartment is correctly priced. 

    • All adult occupants must be listed on and sign the lease contract.