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Old 04.10.2011, 15:00
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Contesting Rent

Upon moving into our new apartment, we've discovered that the agency have raised the rent by 66% over the previous price. We went to the Contestation de Loyal Initial with the help of ASLOCA, and the agency agreed to reduce the rent increase to 48%. We are seeking a lawyer to contest the rent increase at a proper court. Does anyone here had a similar experience? How long do such court cases take? Do you know a lawyer in Lausanne that you could recommend?
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Old 04.10.2011, 15:04
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Re: Contesting Rent

I don't fancy your chances to get the price down any further. The only time that landlords can substantially raise the price of their rent is when there is a tenant change.

Rent increases on existing tenants have to follow cost of living increases unless they do a refurb then can increase the rent accordingly.

Your previous tenant might have been in the apartment for many years and the rent couldn't be increased to match current prices during his time there.
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Old 04.10.2011, 15:13
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Re: Contesting Rent

When you signed the contract you must have thought the cost per month was fair value. You received a reduced rate so I suggest you have the best you can get. Be happy you have already won the battle, no point starting WWIII.
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Old 04.10.2011, 22:01
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Re: Contesting Rent

Out of interest, do you know why the rent was raised?

I'm just asking because it is my understanding that rent cannot be raised 'just because', certainly not by that amount. I think it has to be linked to the mortgage rate and / or improvements made to the apartment in between tenants.

For example, my rent is a fair bit higher than the amount the previous tenant paid. However, the apartment was renovated (floors, repainted, new kitchen) and during my first year here the landlord also replaced the windows, blinds, resurfaced the balcony, replaced the balcony surrounds and also added 40 cm thick insulation to the façade of the entire building, built a new entrance porch and resurfaced the walkway to the building. Oh, and I think the garage doors were replaced too. So I was quite happy to pay a higher rent, because I was getting a nicer apartment, in a better insulated building. But some of these improvements did not appear until I'd been living here some time.

Asloca say you only have 30 days to contest the rent increase.

With the apartment shortage, people are so glad to get a place... I wouldn't try and fight a battle that (as others have said) you are unlikely to win.
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Old 04.10.2011, 22:04
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Re: Contesting Rent

This illustrates well what is happening in the area- and why the 'locals' are truly and really feeling pushed out (as they generally do not have salaries as high as the new 'ex-pats'.
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Old 04.10.2011, 22:06
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Re: Contesting Rent

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I wouldn't try and fight a battle that (as others have said) you are unlikely to win.

The OP did win. The issue already went to mediation with the help of ASLOCA. Why he thinks he's entitled to more is beyond me.
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Old 04.10.2011, 22:23
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Re: Contesting Rent

48% is still a huge hike, unless extensive repairs were done to improve the property. If you don't know the market well for a new area, a rent may seem fair at the time, until you realise the reality on the ground. If expats accept such huge hikes in rent- the local population is truly stuffed. No problem some might say, but it won't do much for good relations, will it?
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Old 05.10.2011, 00:08
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Re: Contesting Rent

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48% is still a huge hike, unless extensive repairs were done to improve the property. If you don't know the market well for a new area, a rent may seem fair at the time, until you realise the reality on the ground. If expats accept such huge hikes in rent- the local population is truly stuffed. No problem some might say, but it won't do much for good relations, will it?
I agree, but then we have all been screwed on this for a long time. Different threads but some landlords hate the expats and others love them. Do not imagine it is different in any other large city. Market economy will win.
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Old 05.10.2011, 00:17
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Re: Contesting Rent

You never know. Switzerland is a direct democracy, for good or bad, whatever you want to think. But if the locals really feel pushed out of the property and rental market, they may well decide to do something about it. The UDC/SVP is already working on it. So many young local people are moving out to other areas, especially when they start a family, as they just cannot afford rents. Many are NOT anti-foreigner at all, and yet really feel enough is enough and are looking to political solutions to fight market forces. Perhaps it is time to have extra pay in those areas for key workers, teachers, nurses, etc.
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Old 05.10.2011, 01:28
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Re: Contesting Rent

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You never know. Switzerland is a direct democracy, for good or bad, whatever you want to think. But if the locals really feel pushed out of the property and rental market, they may well decide to do something about it. The UDC/SVP is already working on it. So many young local people are moving out to other areas, especially when they start a family, as they just cannot afford rents. Many are NOT anti-foreigner at all, and yet really feel enough is enough and are looking to political solutions to fight market forces. Perhaps it is time to have extra pay in those areas for key workers, teachers, nurses, etc.
Someone has taken the flat because there is a job in commuting distance which pays enough to cover the rent. It doesn't matter if that person coming in is an expat or a Swiss person - it's someone prepared to pay the higher price.

Your proposed "solution" of higher pay in some job sectors would just push rents up further (there would be more people able to pay higher prices), and just price out people in the other sectors.

Taking expats out of the equation would slow down the process as it would take longer to fill each higher-wage job vacancy, but it's no cure.
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Old 05.10.2011, 01:38
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Re: Contesting Rent

Wouldn't the board of conciliation be the next step after ASLOCA and before a lawyer?

I say it's in everyone's best interest to fight the cynical profiteering of the gerance companies down in Vaud (if "foreigners" don't fight these artificial price increases, then we really are pricing the Swiss out of this market).

I worry that some of the folks on the EF may not understand what sort of gentlemen profiteers we have down here. Give 'em hell, OP.
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Old 05.10.2011, 08:55
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Re: Contesting Rent

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The OP did win. The issue already went to mediation with the help of ASLOCA. Why he thinks he's entitled to more is beyond me.
Sorry, I wasn't clear. I should have said 'fighting a further battle...'.
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Old 05.10.2011, 10:42
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Re: Contesting Rent

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48% is still a huge hike, unless extensive repairs were done to improve the property. If you don't know the market well for a new area, a rent may seem fair at the time, until you realise the reality on the ground. If expats accept such huge hikes in rent- the local population is truly stuffed. No problem some might say, but it won't do much for good relations, will it?
Not always - we've been in our apartment since 1999 and our rent is tiny compared to the apartments above us who have had comings and goings every couple of years where the landlord has been able to increase the rent in small percentages each time.

If we move out of here and someone else comes in, there is no way the landlord will charge them our 1999 prices (plus the few meagre % he's been able to add over the years for cost of living increases). I'm guessing any new renter is going to have to look at another CHF 1000 on top of what we pay to bring it into a normal rent bracket of the other apartments in our block.

Consequently we have no intention of moving for the next few years because probably the same thing will happen to us.
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Old 05.10.2011, 17:08
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Re: Contesting Rent

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The OP did win. The issue already went to mediation with the help of ASLOCA. Why he thinks he's entitled to more is beyond me.
As Odile have said, 48% is still a huge hike. From talking to neighbours I suspect it is the expats who are unaware of Swiss law and regulations that bear the brunt of the abusive rental increases. Their rents are in turn used as example for pushing up rents in the area. We just want to make sure we are not further pushing up prices in the market.
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Old 05.10.2011, 17:11
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Re: Contesting Rent

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Out of interest, do you know why the rent was raised?
The official reason as stated on the green paper is that it is raised to comparable market rates in the area. The person from ASLOCA said nowadays it is being used as a universal excuse.

The apartment was also refurbished, but I'm not sure it justifies ~50% rent increase.
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Old 05.10.2011, 17:35
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Re: Contesting Rent

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The official reason as stated on the green paper is that it is raised to comparable market rates in the area. The person from ASLOCA said nowadays it is being used as a universal excuse.

The apartment was also refurbished, but I'm not sure it justifies ~50% rent increase.
if it is market rates, then i don't think there is anything you can do about it.
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Old 05.10.2011, 17:41
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Re: Contesting Rent

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if it is market rates, then i don't think there is anything you can do about it.
I don't have any idea about the rest of Switzerland, but housing is one sector where Vaud canton has no interest in letting the principles of free market apply (well, you could argue that with the gerance cartels, there isn't a free market anyway). So, to combat the artificial inflation and price fixing among this gang of gentlemen, they do not allow price increases to "market rates"--you have to justify why you are increasing the rent at all.
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Old 05.10.2011, 17:48
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Re: Contesting Rent

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I don't have any idea about the rest of Switzerland, but housing is one sector where Vaud canton has no interest in letting the principles of free market apply (well, you could argue that with the gerance cartels, there isn't a free market anyway). So, to combat the artificial inflation and price fixing among this gang of gentlemen, they do not allow price increases to "market rates"--you have to justify why you are increasing the rent at all.
i understood increasing them to market rents was considered enough of a justification.
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Old 05.10.2011, 17:56
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Re: Contesting Rent

If you think the rent is too high you shouldn't have agreed to rent it...
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Old 05.10.2011, 18:04
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Re: Contesting Rent

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If you think the rent is too high you shouldn't have agreed to rent it...
Down here, how it works is that first you find a place that you like and then you fight about the price, often AFTER you've signed the contract. The reason why it is required by law to provide the green sheet with the last rent on it is to prevent the landlords from pulling precisely these sort of moves between tenants.

Yes, it turns all our beloved principles upside down. But this is how the Romandie Swiss do it, apparently. Instead of seeing housing as a commodity on the free market, they see the access to affordable, pleasant housing as a right. It's a different way of looking at things.

Anyway, the housing market is not "free" here. It is controlled by three or four large companies who are price fixing and laughing all the way to the bank.
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