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Old 15.01.2011, 01:51
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Advice about cellar space please

Hi All

We (wife and me) arrived in Switzerland in the first week of January, so I guess I should introduce myself. We're from London, and are living close to Zurich. I'm an IT bod working in the city. My wife is 'resting' at present.

May I ask some advice please? When we moved in to our apartment, we found we'd been allocated a very small cellar storage space, whereas it seems everyone else's space is much bigger than ours. When I queried this, I was told that the cellar space is formally linked to the particular apartment at Gemeinde level and cannot be changed. The implication was that the cellar space was included in the apartment floor space for tax reasons.

Is this true? I'm sure there are several apartments in our block that have an identical floor space to ours, yet they have much more cellar space than us. It all seems a bit arbitrary to me.

Sorry if this sounds like a casual whinge. In truth, we have a serious problem. We moved out of a 4-bedroom house in the UK and desperately need the storage. To make matters worse, our neighbours appear to have almost nothing stored in their spacious cellars, while ours is already stuffed, with half the floor area of our apartment still covered with removal cartons!

When we were intitially shown around the place before Christmas, I'm sure the guide/salesperson told us that she was unsure which cellar would be ours but that the bigger, more expensive, apartments (like ours) had the bigger cellar storage -- which seemed obvious to me at the time, so I didn't press the point.

I've checked our contract and there is absolutely no mention of cellar space whatever, which seems odd if it is decreed at Gemeinde level.

Can anyone provide any insight please? Does your contract mention a particular cellar area? Have you had a dispute about your storage area? Have you successfully changed your cellar after you've moved in?

I should say that we are absolutely delighted to be here in Switzerland, and we love our flat. I don't want to sound like whiney newcomers. If this is the rule, we will live by it with good grace. But equally, I don't want to be duped just because I'm a stupid foreigner who isn't yet a great German speaker.

We would appreciate any help or advice. Thank you.

DW
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Old 15.01.2011, 08:37
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Re: Advice about cellar space please

Hi and Welcome to the forum.

Firstly..... Is there a 'free' cellar downstairs that you 'could' take?
If not, I dare say there isn't anything you can do about it.

When I first got here, the cellar I was allocated was already filled with someone elses stuff, but there were two free. When discussed, they just allocated me another locker.

For this reason, I can't see why this would be so difficult..... just change the number in their records and everything is sorted.

If they are going to the trouble of lying in detail about links to 'floor space and tax', I would ask them to prove it as it's not listed in your contract. Argue the point that other flats of similar floor space have larger cellar allotments.... and if possible try to identify a smaller appartment with an larger cellar.

This being said. If you are requesting people to move their stuff, I don't think this will make your stay very comfortable with the other tennants.

Also ask which appartments are liked to the open cellars.

I'm afraid that at the end of the day it's most likely going to be a case of what you can negotiate.
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Old 15.01.2011, 08:50
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Re: Advice about cellar space please

In our last apartment, we had cellar and roof storage - the roof storage was enormous! - do you have that as well ?

Also, at my workplace there were a few roof storage spaces empty because people find it annoying to put stuff up there - so we were able to negotiate with a couple of people not using their space, to store our stuff in their section...
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Old 15.01.2011, 15:44
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Re: Advice about cellar space please

What is the neighbour with little in his cellar like? How about inviting her/him for a drink, have a good chat - and perhaps at some point, then or later, explain your problem and ask if you could rent the available place.
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Old 18.01.2011, 19:46
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Re: Advice about cellar space please

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Hi and Welcome to the forum.

Firstly..... Is there a 'free' cellar downstairs that you 'could' take?
If not, I dare say there isn't anything you can do about it.

When I first got here, the cellar I was allocated was already filled with someone elses stuff, but there were two free. When discussed, they just allocated me another locker.

For this reason, I can't see why this would be so difficult..... just change the number in their records and everything is sorted.

If they are going to the trouble of lying in detail about links to 'floor space and tax', I would ask them to prove it as it's not listed in your contract. Argue the point that other flats of similar floor space have larger cellar allotments.... and if possible try to identify a smaller appartment with an larger cellar.

This being said. If you are requesting people to move their stuff, I don't think this will make your stay very comfortable with the other tennants.

Also ask which appartments are liked to the open cellars.

I'm afraid that at the end of the day it's most likely going to be a case of what you can negotiate.
There are several free cellar storage areas, and some of them quite big. I've written to the landlords again to ask for clarification on how the system works, but have not received an answer yet. I suspect they are hoping I will just shut up about it.
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Old 18.01.2011, 19:52
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Re: Advice about cellar space please

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What is the neighbour with little in his cellar like? How about inviting her/him for a drink, have a good chat - and perhaps at some point, then or later, explain your problem and ask if you could rent the available place.
Yes, that had occurred to me. Trouble is, that sounds like a longer term strategy when we could really do with the space now.

We are working round it as best we can. Let's face it, it's not the end of the world but I would just like to understand how the system works. If it really is some formal arrangement established before the apartments are let, it would be good to see the paperwork. It's the thought that I'm just being fobbed off with a nonsense story that annoys me. I would have thought the contract would have specified the cellar, or made some mention of the storage arrangements, but it doesn't.
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Old 18.01.2011, 19:54
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Re: Advice about cellar space please

Perhaps then a note near the letter-boxes asking if anybody would like to rent you theirs for a small sum- if your neighbour does not agree to share.
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Old 18.01.2011, 19:59
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Re: Advice about cellar space please

My contract mentions a specific cellar number. All seem to be identical in size even though there are flats in the building that are double the size of mine.
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Old 18.01.2011, 23:44
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Re: Advice about cellar space please

Unfortunately the cellar spaces are not always equal, and one can get unlucky, getting stuck with the smaller one particularly if you have all the unused but required bomb shelter equipment in there. It is very annoying when you see someone else with a larger that they don't need.

Asking management to sort it out is one option, but let's face it, they have no real incentive to do this, and it means they have to go bother another tenant. From an administrative point of view, all they have to do is to record which cellar belongs to which apartment if you make a swap.

There also seems to be no correlation between the size of the cellar and the apartment, in fact sometimes the bigger apartment has the smaller cellar.

Two bits of advice. Consider selling unwanted items that you will never need here. The cellar is never an ideal place for textiles and like materials. If you really want everything, then I would post a notice downstairs in the cellar area asking if someone is willingly switch with you. It will only become an issue when one of you decides to move and then you will need to put it back to the way management sees it, or just have management make the change then. Sometimes the cellar number is recorded on the front of the lease, but they are not always numbered and management just keeps a list, similar to the way parking spaces are allocated.
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Old 19.01.2011, 00:16
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Re: Advice about cellar space please

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When I queried this, I was told that the cellar space is formally linked to the particular apartment at Gemeinde level and cannot be changed. The implication was that the cellar space was included in the apartment floor space for tax reasons.
I think the answer was correct, but not relevant to you maybe. The value of an individual appartment is linked to the floor area of the flat + balcony + cellar plus a share of the communual washing and bicycle rooms, the stairs, entrance hall and garden. This value would be registered in the Gemeinde land registry for the purpose of calculating the owners' property taxes. So if your appartment was indeed allocated the smallest cellar, then yes it would affect the owner's taxes.

If all the appartments are not all the same size, then definitely take the contract to the agent and complain, and get your cellar number written on your contract. A neighbour may have previously stolen your cellar.
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Old 19.01.2011, 01:00
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Re: Advice about cellar space please

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A neighbour may have previously stolen your cellar.
Actually, I know of a case where cellars got "mixed up" as did a parking space. Management had no idea but sorted it out in both cases.
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