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Old 08.10.2011, 13:05
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Should we contest a ~20% rent increase? - with happy ending!

We are newly arrived ex-pats in the Lausanne area and are in a temporary apartment for the first few months. We have been actively looking for a permanent apartment and have submitted many applications, but just received our first positive reply. However, it is the most expensive place we visited, and we have realized, talking to the previous tenants, that the landlord has increased the rent significantly.

The increase is about 20%, ostensibly because the apartment will be repainted, but it really isn't necessary and seems more like an excuse. The current tenants are both young so I can't imagine that they've been there very long.

We initially thought that this was a very large increase, but other posters in this forum are talking about 40 or 60% increases, so now I'm not so sure. Do we have any chance of winning if we contest the rent?

I looked at the ASLOCA website, but there appear to be significant fees for pretty much everything. Since we are not expecting a huge reduction even if we are successful, we are not sure if it is even worth it. Has anyone used ASLOCA? What were the total costs?

Finally, as newly arrived foreigners with an incomplete dossier (we have no Swiss paystubs, our work permits have not yet arrived......), we are also wondering if we were only offered the apartment because no one else wanted it. Would it be better for us to wait until our dossier is complete before we search for a permanent apartment?

Any advice would be helpful. Thank you all.
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Old 08.10.2011, 13:08
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

How many years had the previous renter lived there? It could make a big difference.

You will be turned down for most apartments you apply for, Swill people & C permit holders will have priority.
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Old 08.10.2011, 13:22
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

Generally when tenants change the landlord is ideally placed to change the rent to match current market conditions. They don't put the rent up just for repainting.

Once you are in, the rent will not increase unless the apartment is refurbished.

You've seen how difficult it is to find apts, you need to weigh it up.

I don't see how ASLOCA can be of any help, the landlord is free to ask what he wants for an apartment, no one is forcing you to take it.

I've been searching on and off for a year in Basel to find a suitable new apartment, and guess what? They are all bleedin' expensive! Anything below CHF2500 goes in a flash.

Try and negotiate by saying you can move in immediately, no kids, both working so out all day etc etc. Maybe you'll get lucky, maybe. Good luck with it.
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Old 08.10.2011, 13:26
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

Suggest you search on Contesting Rent. Similar recent thread.
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Old 08.10.2011, 13:29
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

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How many years had the previous renter lived there? It could make a big difference.
There were two girls there previously, one had already moved out, and the one who showed us around had only been there a year.
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Old 08.10.2011, 13:31
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

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You've seen how difficult it is to find apts, you need to weigh it up.
If we take it, we will be prepared to pay the rent, but are wondering if it would be worth it to try to contest.
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Old 08.10.2011, 13:34
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

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Suggest you search on Contesting Rent. Similar recent thread.
Thanks, I did look at that one, but it didn't answer all of my questions.
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Old 08.10.2011, 13:42
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

1. On what grounds would you contest? You have neither signed a contract yet, nor are you already staying there.

2. ASLOCA is not expensive. Their yearly membership is something like CHF85/- or so. And this entitles you to a few free consultations. However, they would be the first ones to ask the question in #1 above.

Last edited by Nyonais; 08.10.2011 at 16:20.
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Old 08.10.2011, 13:50
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

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If we take it, we will be prepared to pay the rent, but are wondering if it would be worth it to try to contest.
It's not really contesting as you are not currently renting, it's simply negotiating the asking price.

You need to sell yourselves to him as a safe bet which is why he should maybe reduce the rent. Keep it all civil and friendly and you may be able to do it.
That said, maybe he under priced it to the last tenants?

Start talking about rent tribunals, ASLOCA and getting ripped off, and he'll tell you to sling your hook as very probable troublesome tenants.
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Old 08.10.2011, 23:18
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

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Generally when tenants change the landlord is ideally placed to change the rent to match current market conditions. They don't put the rent up just for repainting.

Once you are in, the rent will not increase unless the apartment is refurbished.

You've seen how difficult it is to find apts, you need to weigh it up.

I don't see how ASLOCA can be of any help, the landlord is free to ask what he wants for an apartment, no one is forcing you to take it.

I've been searching on and off for a year in Basel to find a suitable new apartment, and guess what? They are all bleedin' expensive! Anything below CHF2500 goes in a flash.

Try and negotiate by saying you can move in immediately, no kids, both working so out all day etc etc. Maybe you'll get lucky, maybe. Good luck with it.
Even Basel is tough now to get an apartment ? I thought it was tough only in ZH and Geneva and that Basel was a breeze when it came to getting a flat.
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Old 08.10.2011, 23:26
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

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I don't see how ASLOCA can be of any help, the landlord is free to ask what he wants for an apartment, no one is forcing you to take it.
This is not correct. Swiss rents are regulated and can only be increased by increases in interest rates and improvements in the property...
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Old 09.10.2011, 01:59
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Just a general tip of Advice - when we were looking last year for a permanent place having arrived fresh in ZH I asked my employer to write me a recommendation letter. Not sure whether that did the trick but every application we've sent was accepted. And like you we are B permit holders with no record of anything here. Good luck with the apartment hunting.
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Old 09.10.2011, 08:58
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

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Just a general tip of Advice - when we were looking last year for a permanent place having arrived fresh in ZH I asked my employer to write me a recommendation letter. Not sure whether that did the trick but every application we've sent was accepted. And like you we are B permit holders with no record of anything here. Good luck with the apartment hunting.
Thank you! We did eventually get such a letter from my husband's employer. It was included only in our last few applications, none of which we've heard from yet. That gives me hope that they will not all be refused!
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Old 09.10.2011, 10:03
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

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This is not correct. Swiss rents are regulated and can only be increased by increases in interest rates and improvements in the property...
I thought this was only applicable to the current tenants, with the OP only being an interested party, I didn't see how they could help until I read
what the ASLOCA website says:

Can I challenge the rent after signing the lease?

Yes you can, but under certain restrictive conditions. A condition is a significant increase in the change of tenant. According to practice, it is up about 10% over the rent paid by the previous tenant. Your section of the cantonal ASLOCA inform you in detail about the possibilities. Please note the deadline for challenging the initial rent is 30 days, but he begins to run only from the keys of the accommodation and not signing the contract!


So the guideline seems to be 10% increase between tenants.

Could give some weight to any friendly negotiating. However looks like the OP is not continuing with it.
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Old 10.10.2011, 13:31
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

The general rule for contesting rent increase is you first sign the contract, then move in. Upon moving in you'll receive a little green piece of paper which inform you about the current rent, the previous rent, the relevant laws, and reasons for the rent increase. After you receive that little piece of paper, you'll have 30 days to contest the rent at a Comission if you feel it is abusive.
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Old 10.10.2011, 14:44
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

Contesting Rent

There is some very useful discussion here as well. Cheers
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Old 10.10.2011, 15:06
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

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The general rule for contesting rent increase is you first sign the contract, then move in. Upon moving in you'll receive a little green piece of paper which inform you about the current rent, the previous rent, the relevant laws, and reasons for the rent increase. After you receive that little piece of paper, you'll have 30 days to contest the rent at a Comission if you feel it is abusive.
Really, never received something like this and have'nt seen anything like that being discussed as well. So it is definitely something to look at.
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Old 15.10.2011, 12:36
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

We just received the lease, and, contrary to what the previous tenants told us, they are not even going to paint, so the 20% increase is due solely to 'adaptation aux loyers du quartier.' However, the previous lease was signed only a year ago. Such an increase over the space of a year seems a bit exagerrated to us. I guess we will consult with ASLOCA and see what happens.

Thanks to all for your suggestions and advice.
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Old 15.10.2011, 17:02
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

I understand your frustration at the increase but it may be more fair than you think. The landlord may not have raised the rent at all between the last several sets of tenants and is now doing a bigger hike to compensate.
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Old 15.10.2011, 18:43
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Re: Do we have a chance if we contest a ~20% rent increase?

Yep, we have no expectations, but we figure we should at least look into it rather than just let ourselves be taken advantage of, should that be the case.
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