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Old 20.10.2011, 20:17
curiousngeorge curiousngeorge is offline
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Subletting a flat - do we have any rights?

Hello, all!
Thanks for any help you can give me with this....
My fiance and I are living in Lausanne; he is doing a post-doc at the EPFL. When he originally got hired, the department at EPFL told us that it is very difficult to find housing in the Lausanne area. We got the impression that, if we found an available flat, we should should take it immediately. In addition, we were stuck in the catch 22 - you can't arrive without housing in a bad housing market, but you can't properly apply for housing in Switzerland without an address, permit, etc.
The department secretary forwarded apartment ads to us, and we finally found one that was an appropriate size for two people (we were previously rejected for a smaller flat because the owner said it was "too small for two people"). When we agreed to the terms of rent, we were under the impression that the girl we were renting from - let's call her X - owned the flat. We also originally planned to stay for only four months, the duration of her internship abroad. After four months, we would know the area and could find a new place.
When we arrived, the flat was... somewhat less great than we were led to believe, for several reasons. Shortly after, X discovered that she would be gone indefinitely. By this time, we had seen numerous people search in vain for apartments, and we were very intimidated by the idea of ending up homeless. So we stayed.
Fast forward one year. We discovered recently that X doesn't own the flat - in fact, she is hiding from the gerance the fact that we are living here. Yesterday, I signed for a letter which indicated that X hasn't paid her rent for the past two months. Additionally, we found out what she is actually paying for the flat. Needless to say, we are somewhat distressed. So I have two questions:
1) Can we be evicted because she isn't paying rent?
2) Do we have any recourse for lowering the rent/ recouping the money we've paid over the actual rent of the flat?
Thank you to anyone who can help us!
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