You’ve been living in your old apartment for a couple of years and now you’re moving to a new place. The boxes and furniture have been moved, the apartment cleaned and small repairs taken care of. Now it’s time for the apartment handover where you will go through the apartment with the landlord to fill out the handover protocol and check for any damages. Even though everything might be okay, it happens often, that both parties disagree. That’s why we’ve collected everything you need to know about tenancy damages.

Tenancy damages on wall


Wear: Normal or Excessive?

This is what causes most of the disagreements between landlord and tenant. Obviously apartments aren’t an art exhibition where people have to be excessively careful. An apartment is meant to live in and it’s normal to see traces of usage. The important thing is to distinguish between normal wear and excessive wear.

Normal wear: Traces of usage are normal even if the apartment was used in a careful manner. Repairs for normal wear is already included in the rental costs. Meaning: The landlord has to pay for those costs. This includes the following:

  • minimal scratches on the parquet floor
  • color changes on the walls caused by furniture and pictures
  • traces because of lamps
  • nail and dowel holes in reasonable numbers (should be sealed with putty)
  • worn carpets

Excessive wear: Everything that needs to be replaced or repaired before the actual lifespan of the object is over. This can be due to reckless treatment of the objects. For example:

  • painted walls
  • too many dowel holes
  • deep scratches in the parquet floor
  • tears in the washbasin
  • nicotine walls
  • broken windows
  • scratches caused by pets

The Items in the Apartment Have a Lifespan

When talking about tenancy damages one always refers to the lifespan of the objects. Each object in the apartment has a specific lifespan. You can find an overview here. The guidelines of the lifespan are all based upon the assumption of average quality of the object and normal usage of the tenants.

Depending on the furnishing of your apartment, the lifespans can vary a lot. For example, veneer floors have a lifespan of ten years. If there are too many deep scratches, it counts as excessive wear and the floor needs to be replaced or repaired. The lifespan of a stove depends on the quality of the device. High-value stoves can last up to 30 years. Low-quality stoves on the other hand often don’t work anymore after ten years. As you can see, estimating the cost of the damages isn’t easy and can lead to disagreements.

Who Pays What? What about My Personal Liability Insurance?

As mentioned above, the normal wear and tear is included in the rent. If something has to be repaired, then the landlord will cover the costs. It’s different for excessive wear. If the floor has too many scratches, then you’ll be charged with the costs.

What’s Covered by the Personal Liability Insurance?

Some damages are covered by your personal liability insurance. This usually includes damages due to careless treatment and damages that happened suddenly and by accident such as:

  • tears in the washbasin
  • deep scratches in the floor
  • small burns in the carpet
  • doodles on wallpapers drawn by children

Contact your insurance in time, so that you can ask if the damages are covered by your personal liability insurance.

Important: You don’t need to replace the items by their original value. If the floor has a lifespan of ten years and it’s five years old, you only need to pay half of the original value.

What Isn’t Included in the Personal Liability Insurance?

You shouldn’t party every day without caring about damages because the personal liability insurance doesn’t cover all the damages. The insurance doesn’t cover the following damages:

  • Grossly negligent actions that lead to damages
  • Intentional damages like cat flaps
  • Gradual damages that don’t happen suddenly like nicotine walls or water impressions on the floor.

To make sure which damages the insurance covers, you should take a look at your insurance conditions.

Thinking in Advance Can Help

If you’re unlucky, you’ll end up in disagreement with your landlord. Was the tear already in the washbasin when you moved into the apartment? And the carpet was already five years old and not only three when you moved in, right? Damages that were already present when you moved in should be stated in the handover protocol. That way you will be on the safe side and won’t be liable for those damages.

If you are responsible for scratches in the parquet or damages in the wallpaper, contact your insurance beforehand. Tell them about the damages and have them confirm which damages they will cover.

Avoid Fights and Get an Expert

In order to avoid a fight with your landlord, you can contact an expert in advance, so that he can take a look beforehand. In this way you won’t find any big surprises on the day of the apartment handover. In the worst case, you can turn to the tenants’ association.