Hand over of the property
The hand over/take over of real estate is often a neglected defect in property lease, which can have serious consequences for either party. I do not mean the actual hand over of real estate, the collection of keys, etc. I mean the hand over in a more legal sense. The handover of real estate has many consequences, such as the transfer of the risk of damage. Simply put, the owner is liable for all damage before the handover, after the handover the tenant is responsible. It is the handover of the property, not the conclusion or termination of the contract which has this legal consequences! If the handover of the property is not done correctly, problems may arise in future, especially regarding determining the decisive time when the handover took place, whether the apartment was handed over by an authorized person and therefore whether the handover took place at all, or what the actual energy meters were at the time of handover and what the damages were. A properly completed handover protocol should eliminate all these problems. The handover protocol is an alpha and omega in the handover of the property and also solves most of the problems associated with the lease, respectively lease agreement. So I should say, hand over protocols, plural. Because in order to have a peaceful night's sleep after the end of the lease agreement and the handover of the property, you should have two protocols saved with the agreement!
Here one real example (Yes, it really happened) to see why the handover protocol is very important!
1. A contract was concluded between the tenant and the landlord and the apartment was handed over, with the owner handing over the keys to the tenant, recording the meter numbers and having the tenant sign a "kind of paper" stating that it was a handover protocol – just some necessity. When asked by the tenant what will happen to the cracked window in the kitchen and probably the cracked shower and other smaller issues in the bathroom, the owner replied that he knows about it, so that he will deal with it and he will come to fix it later. The tenat did the pictures anyways to have some prove. The tenant did not receive a second copy of the paper he signed and it was in Czech so he was not sure what it was anyway, nor did he know that he had to. Everything was fine, especially when after about 2 months the owner sent workers who actually repaired the defects. After about half a year, mold began to appear in the corners of one room in the apartment, evidently leaking from outside, although the owner only claimed that the tenant had to ventilate and heat more. The problem was getting worse, the owner stop responding on calls. Therefore, the tenant decided to leave the apartment after a year of the lease, as was in the contract. The owner only wanted to hand over the apartment by simply throwing the keys in the mailbox, because he is currently abroad and when he returns he will pick them up there. It was done so then. Nothing happened until a month later, when the landlord had to return a deposit of CZK 30,000, the former tenant began to wonder what had happened that the deposit was not coming. He received a reply from the owner that not only would he not receive the deposit back, but he was also asked for more like CZK 80.000 as compensation for damage he caused in the apartment. These include: Repair of masonry with mold. Repair of a broken window, repair of a bathroom, scratched floor. Yes! All what was there even before, plus what the tenant could not even cause! Of course, the tenant did not want to like this when he did not cause any damage and decided to solve it legally, despite the warning that this is no win for him. I will not describe the details of the procedure here, I will just tell you that the tenant eventually had to pay the required 80,000 CZK by court decision and did not receive the deposit plus at the court costs another almost 60,000.
And how is that possible? Simply. The tenant did not bear the burden of proof! Of course, he claimed that the defects, which the professional company repaired only two months after his moving in, were already here when he moved in. But the photos from his own phone as proof failed because it was not possible to prove exactly when they were taken. And the landlord presented hand over protocol with his signature which stated that he took over the partment without reservations! It was possible to prove that the mold appeared on the wall half a year after moving in, but after the landlord's advice about ventilation and "tenancy" from the tenant for further efforts, it was claimed that be repaired. And again, the tenant had no way to prove that it was otherwise… And so with each one problem the owner claimed…
This is really an extreme. But in minor variations (when the owner tries to at least not return the deposit) there is a really big amount of cases. And since this is an article about the importance of the handover protocols, let me tell you just one thing: The tenant would save 170,000 if he had saved two "papers". Namely, one handover protocol from the time when the apartment was taken over, where all defects would be listed. And second, from the time when he handed over the apartment, where would it be the same!
So, what should the Handover Protocol contain, what should it look like in a situation where you take over the apartment as a tenant? What to be aware of?
- Identification of the owner of the apartment, identification of the tenant, identification of the apartment. (Ideally the same as in the lease) and the sentence that it is a transfer under the lease. - The status of all energy meters and their serial numbers.
- Number of keys handed over - it is enough to state here that the keys have been handed over and that the tenant has access to the property.
- Description of defects and problems! Everything that is wrong with the apartment, what is broken and how it will be solved must be stated here! (Whether it can remain broken or the owner removes it within a certain time.) It's up to the tenant to really say everything here - this is proof for you in the future.
- Date and place of signature of the protocol and signature of both parties!
- And take one original with you! Don't rely on photos on your mobile and not on the other party sending you a protocol by email. (Real estate agents often do this by claiming that it's enough once they scan it at the office and send you a copy by email. No! Always have the original signed and saved!)