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Old 24.08.2011, 19:20
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Terminating lease before it begins

I´ve just signed a lease for an apartment I am supposed to move into on September 15. But after reviewing the contract, I´ve found a few things I do not agree with (okay, before you all start saying, "Dumbshit, you don´t sign something before you read it, I´ll do it for you: I´m a dumbshit for not having understood the "accessory charges" when I read through the contract in French with three screaming kids beside me, thinking, instead, they were the normal monthly utilities (heating, etc.). Anyway, to say the least, I need some quick advice. Is there any way I can get out of the lease before it begins? Anything I can do? What would I have to pay to break the lease?

Thanks in advance
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Old 24.08.2011, 19:24
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

What are the things you don't agree with? What are the accessory charges?

I think I recall something in Swiss law that you cannot sign a contract in a language that you don't understand, that you must get a proper translation and without that, it is invalid. You would need to get a private lawyer to check the circumstances.

But I'd be surprised if the hidden charges that were a surprise to you are higher than the cost of challenging the contract.
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Old 24.08.2011, 20:37
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

Caviar,

Thanks for the reply. The "accessory fees" are around 400CHF per month. It is the cost of the concierge, etc. The reason I am a bit confounded is due to the fact that the ad in Homegate listed the gross monthly rent, which included the charges (heating, etc.) and the parking, but then they come up with these "accessory fees."

I mean, does anyone know it would cost me to break the lease? Do I have legal grounds? To be honest, they weren´t hidden fees, and the Regie has treated us well. It´s our fault.
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Old 24.08.2011, 21:48
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

When did you sign and when do you move in? And in which canton?
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Old 24.08.2011, 22:08
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

We signed today; we move in on September 15; Geneva.

BTW: just spoke with the current tenant. He told me the "extra fees" were agreed upon as a way to raise the rent. What irritates me, as I said, is that in the Homegate post the gross rent did not include the fees, nor when calculating our gross monthly salary.

Do I have an argument? What would the regie say if I told them tomorrow that I would like to break the lease?
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Old 24.08.2011, 22:45
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

I think you have three options, but i'm not a lawyer

1. The contractual route. Start looking for a tenant yourselves. Thats almost certainly the official route

2. Call a geneva notary tomorrow morning asap and get their advice. It'll cost you about chf400. See if there are any options regarding i) cooling off period ii) language iii) hidden charges, misrepresentation in the advert or iv) just breaing the contract and letting them chase you for damages and costs.

Almost certainly wont yield anything but you'll never know otherwise. The damages one may work as you can argue they only lost 36 hours of marketing the house if you break tomorrow. Pay that and the fees for finding the next person and maybe its not too bad

3. Pick up the phone and negotiate with them. Depending on your moral position (and you think they lied to you) tell them whatever your soul will allow you to get out of it. Partner lost job, wont be relocating, work permit turned down. See where you get.

If i were you, i'd invest money in a notary first, then decide
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Old 24.08.2011, 23:03
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

Thanks for the advice. I might try to give ASLOCA a call as well.
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Old 24.08.2011, 23:38
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

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Thanks for the advice. I might try to give ASLOCA a call as well.
ASLOCA is a much better route than the CHF 400 lawyer...as they provide free legal advice to members.

If the accessory charges are well spelled out in the contract and are not illegal then you may well be on the hook. I know the ad might not have mentioned them, but were they in mice type or concealed in the contract you signed? As for caviarchips' idea that if you sign a contract you don't understand then you are off the hook...I ask you, really? It's up to you to make sure that you understand the contract, not the person giving it to you to sign. There is no cooling off period for rental contracts and I certainly would not contemplate just breaching the contract. That will come back with a vengeance.

I understand the issue of signing when under pressure of three screaming kids, but surely something as important as your living accommodation might benefit from being given a slightly higher priority....
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Old 24.08.2011, 23:44
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

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ASLOCA is a much better route than the CHF 400 lawyer...as they provide free legal advice to members.

If the accessory charges are well spelled out in the contract and are not illegal then you may well be on the hook. As for caviarchips' idea that if you sign a contract you don't understand then you are off the hook...I ask you, really? It's up to you to make sure that you understand the contract, not the person giving it to you to sign.

I understand the issue of signing when under pressure of three screaming kids, but surely something as important as your living accommodation might benefit from being given a slightly higher priority....
I didnt realise you had access to ASLOCA, thats better of course

Re understanding, i know its clutching at straws. I thought the same as you - its your responsibility to ensure you understand. But i think the law is maybe different here? My thought came from my experience recently - my German is ok but i was told that a Notary cannot certify an agreement if there is a risk that it isnt fully understood, and i was told to get an official translation (for a lot of money!) before i could sign it. (i found a different route, but thats another story!)

So i know its a long shot, but maybe there is a route. Certainly didnt mean to imply it was a sure thing
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Old 25.08.2011, 00:16
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

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i was told that a Notary cannot certify an agreement if there is a risk that it isnt fully understood
Not true.

Notaries certify that you have signed the document, no more, no less.

I have had documents certified and Apostilled in English with the people doing so not understanding a word of English, they just checked my documents to verify that I, the signing part, was who I claimed to be.

Tom
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Old 25.08.2011, 00:16
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

Agreed--my fault, should have given higher priority to the contract; everything was spelled out, they were not hiding anything (except for the fact that the additional fees were not in the initial post, nor mentioned afterwards in the confirmation letter sent by the regie): stupid is as stupid does.

I just have one more question, referring, in fact, to the regie confirmation letter:

After having detailed the costs, etc., it states at the end of the letter "pour tout désistement tardif, nous nous réservons le droit de vous
facturer une indemnité correspondant á un demi mois de loyer et ce, en plus des frais d´annulation s´élevant á CHF200." At what period in the process are they talking about? Before the signing of the contract? After? If it means before, what do the "frais d´annulation" refer to?

Maybe it´s as simple as paying un demi mois de loyer and costs. No problem. Hope someone can help me out.
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Old 25.08.2011, 00:27
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

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Agreed--my fault, should have given higher priority to the contract; everything was spelled out, they were not hiding anything (except for the fact that the additional fees were not in the initial post, nor mentioned afterwards in the confirmation letter sent by the regie): stupid is as stupid does.

I just have one more question, referring, in fact, to the regie confirmation letter:

After having detailed the costs, etc., it states at the end of the letter "pour tout désistement tardif, nous nous réservons le droit de vous
facturer une indemnité correspondant á un demi mois de loyer et ce, en plus des frais d´annulation s´élevant á CHF200." At what period in the process are they talking about? Before the signing of the contract? After? If it means before, what do the "frais d´annulation" refer to?

Maybe it´s as simple as paying un demi mois de loyer and costs. No problem. Hope someone can help me out.
I think what they are saying is that once you have agreed to a contract and they actually write it out and you then decide against it they will charge you half a month's rent plus 200 francs admin fees.

If the accessory costs were already detailled in the regie's letter, why did you go ahead and sign the contract anyway????
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Old 25.08.2011, 00:30
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

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Re understanding, i know its clutching at straws. I thought the same as you - its your responsibility to ensure you understand. But i think the law is maybe different here? My thought came from my experience recently - my German is ok but i was told that a Notary cannot certify an agreement if there is a risk that it isnt fully understood, and i was told to get an official translation (for a lot of money!) before i could sign it. (i found a different route, but thats another story!)
Certainly when notaries do property sale agreements they are obliged to ensure that all the parties do understand what they are signing. In many cases they will go through the agreement and explain the more obscure items. However, once you have said you understand it, it is not up to the notary to check whether you actually did! Also, rental agreements do not need to be notarised, so that rules out that option....
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Old 25.08.2011, 00:41
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

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Not true.

Notaries certify that you have signed the document, no more, no less.

I have had documents certified and Apostilled in English with the people doing so not understanding a word of English, they just checked my documents to verify that I, the signing part, was who I claimed to be.

Tom
I think Snoopy is right, there is something like that but maybe only applies to property sales. What you describe is notarisation, i think, but that is different

Anyway, looks like it won't help
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Old 25.08.2011, 09:02
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

Thanks for the suggestions and comments. I´ll speak with ASLOCA today and then decide what to do next.
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Old 25.08.2011, 09:28
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

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Not true.

Notaries certify that you have signed the document, no more, no less.

I have had documents certified and Apostilled in English with the people doing so not understanding a word of English, they just checked my documents to verify that I, the signing part, was who I claimed to be.

Tom
Notaries can do two things in some cantons (the ones that follow the French model of "civil law notaries"):
- they can certify signatures (as can notaries in the other countries, in "common law" countries etc), in which case all they do is certify the identity of the person who signs the document
- they can notarise contracts such as real estate sales, in which case they take responsibility for the content of the contract, make sure the parties understand all of it - that may include reading it to the parties aloud.

In the latter case, if the notary has doubts about a signatory being sufficiently proficient in the language the contract is drafted, (s)he will insist on either a translation, or on an express declaration of being proficient in that language (i.e. effectively a waiver of the right to have a translation)
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Old 25.08.2011, 10:58
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

From my experience finding the perfect apartment is not so easy. Maybe you should move in and see if you like the place. I assume you can give the normal 3 months notice meaning total 6 months of 400.
I have also noticed that landlords raise the rent when a tenant moves, nothing abnormal.
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Old 25.08.2011, 14:08
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

Just a question for thought. Lets say you do manage to break the contract for some reason. Where will you stay from September 15? Do you have a place?
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Old 25.08.2011, 14:19
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

OP - What is the latest please? Interested to find out
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Old 25.08.2011, 14:23
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Re: Terminating lease before it begins

Gata,

I do have a place, in fact, after September 15, if I can get out of this contract. In the end, I think I will have to find another tenant. Which brings up the question: How easy would it be to find someone to rent a three-bedroom apartment (it has a small, fourth, room, which could be used as a study). Relatively new building near the United Nations, third floor, bright. 4079, plus two parking places, which comes out to be CHF4500. I wold have 15 days, from September 15.
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