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Old 03.03.2011, 18:20
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Advice please: leaving Switzerland within fixed term lease

I looked through the forum for an answer but I couldn't find anything that quite nailed it. Apologies if this is a duplicate, please kindly point me towards the relevant threadh!

I am leaving Switzerland (voluntarily) to return to the UK. My employment contract finishes at the end of March and I have already deregistered at the Gemeinde (so I can cancel utilities etc.). When I came here 2 1/2 years ago, I signed a 5 year fixed lease (I was desperate!) so there is still another 2 1/2 years to go. My understanding at the time of signing was that I would need to find a replacement tenant if I wanted to leave inside 5 years or that I could sublet - and that if I could not then I am contractually obligated to continue paying rent as if I lived there until the lease expires (and this is still my understanding).

However, I recently informed the owner of my intention to leave Switzerland and to look for a replacement and they have asked that I clear out my apartment, clean it and give them a key before I leave (in March) even if I haven't found a replacement by that point. Since I would like to at least have the opportunity of selling my furniture to any replacement, I would like to leave it in there and clear/clean the apartment once it's known who and when someone is taking over the lease. Also, if I struggle to find someone I would like to sublet the apartment and, again, have the opportunity to do this furnished. What are my rights and obligations in this case? Are they entitled to ask me to clear the apartment before the lease expires but to continue to hold my deposit and pay rent?

Also, since I am moving abroad, does this allow me to legally terminate the contract early (I've read speculation that it might in other posts)?

I fully intend to fulfill all my legal obligations but obviously I am looking for the quickest, easiest and least loss-inducing way out within those constraints!

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.

Alex.
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Old 03.03.2011, 18:40
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Re: Advice please: leaving Switzerland within fixed term lease

alex_1981, as long as you are paying the rent you are entitled to occupy the apartment. There may be a clause that requires you to ensure that the apartment is checked at regular intervals if you are not there or that you leave a key with someone.

Given your situation there are a few options:

Firstly, I would ask whether the fact that the landlord is asking for your keys back means that he/she has accepted the fact that your lease has been terminated. It could be that the landlord realises that this may be the simplest solution. You have been in the place 2 1/2 years and the landlord may consider this to be reasonable. I would in any case try and negotiate this as it would be the most practicable solution for all involved.

One possibility is to sublet your home and inform the landlord. You will need to submit a copy of the sublease agreement (to show that you are not fleecing the person you are subletting to). Generally the landlord has to accept this (unless the sublease is to people who may be considered unacceptable).

You can inform the landlord that your employment contract has come to an end and that you have to leave Switzerland and that it is unreasonable to expect you to keep on paying (the term in Swiss law is "Unzumutbarkeit"). You can say that you intend to go to court to get out of your contract but that you would like to reach an out of court agreement in the sake of expediency and costs.

So, really the first option would probably be in everyone's interest. I would try and see if you can swing that.
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Old 03.03.2011, 19:02
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Re: Advice please: leaving Switzerland within fixed term lease

Thanks, Snoopy, for your reply.

I have already asked to be released from the contract prematurely and they have declined. I haven't gone as far as threatening to take it to court - I think I have a very good chance of finding a replacement so am pursuing that first (which would be easier for everyone). But it's a good idea in case it comes to that so thanks! I believe the request for keys is not an acceptance of an early termination but rather concern over the apartment being empty for an extended period of time - I am going to call them tomorrow to explain that I can check on the apartment and will continue to pay rent until my lease is properly terminated so hopefully they will calm down a bit then!

Alex.
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Old 03.03.2011, 19:19
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Re: Advice please: leaving Switzerland within fixed term lease

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Thanks, Snoopy, for your reply.

I have already asked to be released from the contract prematurely and they have declined. I haven't gone as far as threatening to take it to court - I think I have a very good chance of finding a replacement so am pursuing that first (which would be easier for everyone). But it's a good idea in case it comes to that so thanks! I believe the request for keys is not an acceptance of an early termination but rather concern over the apartment being empty for an extended period of time - I am going to call them tomorrow to explain that I can check on the apartment and will continue to pay rent until my lease is properly terminated so hopefully they will calm down a bit then!

Alex.
Hi Alex

It is not necessary to threaten to go to court. In many ways it is to get a court ruling to accept that you have left the country and that expecting you to stick to your contract is unreasonable (Unzumutbar). If you like, it is not directed against the landlord but is more to get confirmation of the actual situation. Although the landlord might not perceive it that way. Try and keep the relationship amicable, it will help long term. Of course if you can find someone to take on your lease then that would be win-win for everyone.
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Old 03.03.2011, 19:32
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Re: Advice please: leaving Switzerland within fixed term lease

I had similar problems when my parents died mid-term through a lease. A lease is a lease- and if you have signed it the law is on their side. (however ridiculous or unfair it seems to you and me). In my parents case (they had moved a lot further than 'abroad' sadly) I found new rentors who wanted to move in asap, so I 'only' had to pay 2 months rent after their demise - and I had to let the owner come in to re-decorate, whilst I was still paying rent- in exchange for them cutting short the lease. I know it is ridiculous, but this is the way here. I don't think suing will work, although am NO expert- and certainly think that cooperating with the owner/agency will work better.
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Old 03.03.2011, 19:44
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Re: Advice please: leaving Switzerland within fixed term lease

The simplest solution is to do some photos and post the flat on all the main websites as soon as you can. You should also post a small ad in the building and in the neighbourhood. If people like the area, they may have friends who are looking.

Once you give the landlord one viable option, you are off the hook for the lease. It would however be best/most practical to give them a number of files. This ensures that they can't say no to everyone. Be sure to keep contact details of each of the people you present. They are allowed a certain amount of time to check out the people (someone else will have to give this timing - was discussed in another tread). Tell people the apt. is available on the first of the next month. Gives you time for the clean up etc.

Be sure to get copies of the rental form that they normally use so you can hand it out to the people who see the apt. This will save time.

In NO case are you obliged to give them the keys to the apt. You can continue to show the apt. (still furnished) via a friend after you have left. They can't have it both ways (keys and you paying the rent).

But, I would more or less give up on selling the furniture etc. to the next tenant. If you do, it will be more luck than anything. You will need to think about your plan B.

Remember, you will be obliged to clean the apt. before the official handover. Based on the experience of most people, go with a professional cleaning company.

Good luck.
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Old 03.03.2011, 23:23
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Re: Advice please: leaving Switzerland within fixed term lease

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I had similar problems when my parents died mid-term through a lease. A lease is a lease- and if you have signed it the law is on their side. (however ridiculous or unfair it seems to you and me). In my parents case (they had moved a lot further than 'abroad' sadly) I found new rentors who wanted to move in asap, so I 'only' had to pay 2 months rent after their demise - and I had to let the owner come in to re-decorate, whilst I was still paying rent- in exchange for them cutting short the lease. I know it is ridiculous, but this is the way here. I don't think suing will work, although am NO expert- and certainly think that cooperating with the owner/agency will work better.
http://www.hev-schweiz.ch/vermieten-verwalten/mietzins-uebersicht/artikel/?tx_ttnews[tt_news]=964&cHash=bff5af167367c63211ba3ba50bf24f87

Oh dear...according to art 266g of the code of obligations, notice can be given in cases where an event takes place that was unforeseeable when the lease was signed and which makes the continuation of the lease unreasonable (Unzumutbar). Surely in your case Odile, this would have applied and you would, most reasonably, have been off the hook. Given what I understand to have happened, how could you possibly have been expected to keep the lease going.

In the OP's case, as he says himself, he knew that he might have to leave before the end of his lease. He might want to write a note and give notice in accordance with 266g and say that the end of his employment was unexpected...(as Dr. House says, everyone lies.....).
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Old 03.03.2011, 23:31
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Re: Advice please: leaving Switzerland within fixed term lease

Yes but this one says something different about Odile's case. The death of the person renting a flat does NOT terminate the rental agreement. This, together with other 'agreements' passes to the legal heirs.
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Old 03.03.2011, 23:38
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Re: Advice please: leaving Switzerland within fixed term lease

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Yes but this one says something different about Odile's case.
Longbyt you are of course correct, and this applies to art 266g also. The law allows one to cancel to the next "legal" date, which could well be three months down the road and is not automatic and is not immediate either. Even in Alex's case, he might be able to get out of the minimum term but would still have to give notice to the next locally accepted termination date (generally the end of a quarter, except December). In odile's case the two months was probably the best outcome, however this may also have been possible even if there were another three years left to run on the lease.
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Old 03.03.2011, 23:51
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Re: Advice please: leaving Switzerland within fixed term lease

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Yes but this one says something different about Odile's case. The death of the person renting a flat does NOT terminate the rental agreement. This, together with other 'agreements' passes to the legal heirs.
As confirmed by the solicitor here. I was fortunate that he made me aware of this, and that I was able to 'struck a goodwill deal' with the owner. My parents had been ideal tenants for 30 years, and had maintained the house and garden really well - doing much work at their time and expense, so 'goodwill' was fair.
I am aware this situation is very different - but what I am trying to say is that if death does not break a lease, why would a voluntary move away. Crazy - but..
I of course wish you all the very best and that you find an amicable solution. Perhaps this case will be a timely reminder for some that this Swiss rental business is just VERY different, and that you have to be very careful with rental agreements. Bonne chance.

Last edited by Odile; 04.03.2011 at 00:12.
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Old 04.03.2011, 12:57
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Re: Advice please: leaving Switzerland within fixed term lease

Thankyou all for your comments and advice. I now feel pretty sure of where I stand - I just need to find a replacement tenant!

Take care,
Alex.
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