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Old 27.08.2015, 08:15
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Flatmate debts and stealing property

Not sure if this is the right forum for this question, but...

Brief summary as follows: Broke up with my ex late last year (unmarried, no kids), so legally a flat mate. Very nasty situation which ultimately involved the police and ultimately her arrest. Eventually she agreed to sign a termination to the apartment, for which I've subsequently signed a new contract for, which starts on October 1. She's been living outside of the apartment (no idea where) for much of the last year. She is in arrears (rent, bills) to the tune of 4k now to me and this is likely to increase further by the time the fat lady sings.

She's finally begun moving her things out while I'm at work. Problem is she's also taking my things (furniture, kitchenware, etc) and things that are co-owned. All that remains now is in her bedroom (our former bedroom) which still includes things of mine, which is locked. Landlord is aware but refuses to change the locks as she's still on the contract until October 1st.

My questions are:
  • How do I go about recouping what she owes me (baring in mind I have no new address and she may be leaving Switzerland, most likely for Germany, anyway)?
  • How do I stop, or react to, her effectively cleaning the place out of my and the co-owned things, not to mention the possibility that she may even decide to break into my room and finish the job (yes, this is a real possibility)?
I'm pretty much at my wits end on this, so any advice on this that can help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 27.08.2015, 08:33
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

It all depends on how much the financial side of this means to you. Having "been there, done that, got the ex arrestted" you have 2 options - either let it wash over you and know that at some point life will crap on her from a great height OR get nasty and if possible lock everything you want to keep in your room (for which she has no key) and throw everything else into bags and recycle it or throw it.

One of those options give you immediate relief from the stresses of the situation - the other gives you the moral high ground and good karma
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Old 27.08.2015, 08:33
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

If she has stolen something of yours, and yours only i.e. you paid for it and you have proof of payment. Then go to the police station and report it.

Write a letter to her and leave it in the apartment with a copy of the police report.

The co-owned stuff, forget about it, move on.

You could buy a Wireless Motion Activated Alarm, I think you can even get them to send you a SMS when they are triggered.

If you leave the letter by the door on a chair, she might think the police will come when the alarm is triggered, too much?
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Old 27.08.2015, 13:51
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

If there's anything of emotional value, try to get that back.
Everything else would likely break and be replaced at some point anyway - let it go.
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Old 27.08.2015, 14:19
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

Sorry this is happening to you. To be honest, I doubt calling police each time she takes something is the way to go.. It sounds like something that you guys should try to figure out on your own. You could ask a neutral third party along, or each one of you brings a friend so you can sit down and decide on everything. Only if reaching an agreement is absolutely impossible, I'd contact police and a mediator, or in the last instance a lawyer.

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Not sure if this is the right forum for this question, but...

Brief summary as follows: Broke up with my ex late last year (unmarried, no kids), so legally a flat mate. Very nasty situation which ultimately involved the police and ultimately her arrest. Eventually she agreed to sign a termination to the apartment, for which I've subsequently signed a new contract for, which starts on October 1. She's been living outside of the apartment (no idea where) for much of the last year. She is in arrears (rent, bills) to the tune of 4k now to me and this is likely to increase further by the time the fat lady sings.

She's finally begun moving her things out while I'm at work. Problem is she's also taking my things (furniture, kitchenware, etc) and things that are co-owned. All that remains now is in her bedroom (our former bedroom) which still includes things of mine, which is locked. Landlord is aware but refuses to change the locks as she's still on the contract until October 1st.

My questions are:
  • How do I go about recouping what she owes me (baring in mind I have no new address and she may be leaving Switzerland, most likely for Germany, anyway)?
  • How do I stop, or react to, her effectively cleaning the place out of my and the co-owned things, not to mention the possibility that she may even decide to break into my room and finish the job (yes, this is a real possibility)?
I'm pretty much at my wits end on this, so any advice on this that can help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 27.08.2015, 23:43
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

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Landlord is aware but refuses to change the locks as she's still on the contract until October 1st.
In this case I would inform the landlord of the situation in detail, by registered mail, and tell him that if he doesn't change the locks within a certain number of days, you will do so since she is not behaving legally (taking your items).

After you're done changing locks, inform her that she is welcome to come and get HER things in YOUR presence, and if she doesn't pick them up within say, a month, you will put them out on the street.

Clarify that both of these steps are ok at your local police station before proceeding, though.

Sure, she is a tenant in your apartment, just like you, but that doesn't give her the right to take your things.
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Old 28.08.2015, 09:05
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

You know what they say: "Anything that is hers is hers and anything that is yours it hers too!" That's the way it works.
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Old 28.08.2015, 10:02
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

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You know what they say: "Anything that is hers is hers and anything that is yours it hers too!" That's the way it works.
They're not married
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In this case I would inform the landlord of the situation in detail, by registered mail, and tell him that if he doesn't change the locks within a certain number of days, you will do so since she is not behaving legally (taking your items).
So far the theft accusations are unfounded, without legal effect until OP has a verdict. Until the new contract becomes effective, the ex has the right to access the apartment. If OP changes the locks himself, his ex has the legal grounds to call the police and have them force entry.

OP, looks like you'll end up paying for the full cost all by yourself
Given that, you should have the new contract with you as sole renter be effective immediately. Once you have that the landlord is on safe ground to change the locks (which will come at a cost). That's probably your least-bad option.

Other than that, there may be some clause that the current situation is unreasonable (unzumutbar) as you'll end up paying all the rent and other costs in full anyway, not sure though how to proceed on that. If she's found guilty for stealing, I think the judge can additionally forbid her to enter a certain area (Rayonverbot), but such a verdict may take time, and you'd need to have a watertight case. Perhaps contact the Rechtsberatung in Winterthur, their work is free.
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Old 28.08.2015, 14:41
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

Hi all - thanks for the replies, some of which have been very helpful.

As an update, she's been coming to the apartment every day this week to empty it out while I'm at work. I've toyed with the idea of taking a day off, but it appears that she's got help, and given the recent past, I want to avoid any potential confrontation, especially if she has her witness present and I've no one - and a confrontation that would turn to violence would be highly likely given her history.

It's now clear that she has all but cleaned out her things and a few of mine. Her bedroom is locked, but (through the keyhole) I could see that she also took the bed which was co-owned. As I have records of paying for this, I may have evidence to bring to the police at this stage.

There are also things of mine in that room (hopefully) and at this stage I'll have to ask a locksmith in to get me in to get them.

As per my OP, she also owes 4k (likely to increase) and it's clear she has no intention of paying this, so I suspect my next step is to go to the Betreibungsamt (if someone can point to some, ideally English/Italian, instructions on what is necessary to do this, I'd appreciate it).

Unfortunately, I should have posted this thread much earlier, as even if there is one more month before the joint contract is done and the new one, in my name, begins the damage has been largely done. It's my own fault I procrastinated as I did not expect quite how entitled she feels - although the I should have, TBH (other than the incident that saw her arrested, she sent a letter to the HR department of a mutual friend, revealing that he'd lied about a 9-month job he did on his CV when he was hired nine years ago. Why? Apparently, when asked he told her that I was right to break up and she should take a good look at herself. So really, I should have seen it coming).
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They're not married
No, but this attitude appears to be alive and well despite this.

TBH, in the long term my fear is that this experience, as well as that of others I've learned of in recent months, will leave me with a more misogynistic attitude towards relationships and women in future.
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Old 28.08.2015, 15:05
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

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TBH, in the long term my fear is that this experience, as well as that of others I've learned of in recent months, will leave me with a more misogynistic attitude towards relationships and women in future.
You were unlucky enough to date the bitch-queen-from-hell, but I think this level of psychosis is pretty rare. Probably a majority of break-ups are unpleasant and difficult, but just due to upset, miscommunication and anger rather than what appears to be in-built viciousness.

On the positive side, any future relationship even including a break-up should be an improvement.
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Old 28.08.2015, 15:11
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

A misogynistic attitude will likely end up hurting your prospect at a healthy future relationship. I understand that it's going to take you time to trust women and it is really unfortunate that you had to go through this, but next time around, you'll spot the warning signs right away, in the unlikely case that you meet someone with similar tendencies. Wishing you well
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Old 28.08.2015, 15:15
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

some side questions: when there are 2 people in the lease, is it the case that one is the main responsble, and the other one is just included in the lease, or both are equally responsible? If it is the latter, does that mean each is only required to pay half of the rent, and does not have to care about the other half?
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Old 28.08.2015, 15:26
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

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A misogynistic attitude will likely end up hurting your prospect at a healthy future relationship.
Well, in fairness I was hardly mentioning it as a fear if I thought it was going to be a healthy trait to develop...
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some side questions: when there are 2 people in the lease, is it the case that one is the main responsble, and the other one is just included in the lease, or both are equally responsible? If it is the latter, does that mean each is only required to pay half of the rent, and does not have to care about the other half?
You're jointly responsible. That's not the same as equally, because ultimately how you divide that between each other and enforce it is your problem, all a landlord cares about is that they get paid. However, if you don't have an agreement stating otherwise, I do understand that a court will presume a 50-50 arrangement - but you'll have to bring the other person to court, the landlord may simply choose to bring one of you for the full amount.

I've been told of a fabled 'contract default' standard in Switzerland - that is where details in an agreement are not specified (how long a loan is for), there is a statutory value that kicks in. Not seen it myself.
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Old 28.08.2015, 15:44
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

If your ex is no longer a co-tenant, then she is trespassing if she is entering your appartment against your express wishes. Did you explicitly ask her not to enter your appartment?

I don't know if ther is much value in getting the police involved, but you need to inform her in no uncertain terms that what she is doing is illegal and that you are prepared to take steps against her.
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Old 28.08.2015, 16:15
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

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some side questions: when there are 2 people in the lease, is it the case that one is the main responsble, and the other one is just included in the lease, or both are equally responsible? If it is the latter, does that mean each is only required to pay half of the rent, and does not have to care about the other half?
Both jointly & severally liable for 100% of the rent, the OP is legally obliged to pay, your either on the lease or your not.
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Old 28.08.2015, 16:25
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

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Both jointly & severally liable for 100% of the rent, the OP is legally obliged to pay, your either on the lease or your not.
"Jointly" means that the landlord can claim the rent from any or all of the renters individually or together, all are equally liable for the full amount.

The split of that amount between the renters is their problem, not the landlords.
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Old 28.08.2015, 16:41
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

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If your ex is no longer a co-tenant, then she is trespassing if she is entering your appartment against your express wishes. Did you explicitly ask her not to enter your appartment?
She's on the contract, that makes her a co-tenant until that runs out in a month.
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I don't know if ther is much value in getting the police involved, but you need to inform her in no uncertain terms that what she is doing is illegal and that you are prepared to take steps against her.
What steps would those be if there isn't much value in getting the police involved?

Honestly, it's gone beyond that at this stage and I've received word from the landlord that she returned her key and has claimed she's going back to Germany (I've my doubts). Unfortunately she has only returned one of her two keys - so I'm going to cover their replacements too.
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Old 28.08.2015, 16:45
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

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What steps would those be if there isn't much value in getting the police involved?

Honestly, it's gone beyond that at this stage and I've received word from the landlord that she returned her key and has claimed she's going back to Germany (I've my doubts). Unfortunately she has only returned one of her two keys - so I'm going to cover their replacements too.
It's probably best for you to ask police themselves. Mileages vary, and they've been involved already.
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Old 28.08.2015, 17:02
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

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Unfortunately she has only returned one of her two keys - so I'm going to cover their replacements too.
Knowing this, I'd handle the keys/lock situation with alacrity. She might have lost it, or she might have kept it to come back at a later time. Either case you know already that you will have to foot the bill to get the locks changed, so there is literally no reason to postpone it.

I'd have also moved all personal and/or valuable items to a storage unit until the dust settles and the ex can no longer nick stuff. I suspect I'm too late with that suggestion now.
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Old 28.08.2015, 17:24
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Re: Flatmate debts and stealing property

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It's probably best for you to ask police themselves. Mileages vary, and they've been involved already.
No I understand this. I was just asking that if there's little point in getting the police involved and I told her I was prepared to take steps against her, the advice was a little contradictory. Or I was being advised to bluff.

I'll be putting together some evidence and making a report in the next few days. The police will be able to advice, but even if there's nothing they can do, there will still be an official report.

I'll also contact the Wohnungsamt first then the Betreibungsamt within the next week. I should have enough of a paper trail to support a case and given this is going to probably otherwise cost me the guts of 10k (between money owed and replacement of furniture, value of stolen items), it's worth my while to pursue.
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Knowing this, I'd handle the keys/lock situation with alacrity. She might have lost it, or she might have kept it to come back at a later time. Either case you know already that you will have to foot the bill to get the locks changed, so there is literally no reason to postpone it.
The landlord has said this would not be legal as she's still legally a tenant, despite having officially returned her key (even though she had more than one).
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I'd have also moved all personal and/or valuable items to a storage unit until the dust settles and the ex can no longer nick stuff. I suspect I'm too late with that suggestion now.
Indeed. Too late.
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