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Old 05.12.2011, 18:35
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3 year lease

Thank you all for the generous postings on this forum. As new potential expats into Zurich, we find this forum replete with usable information.

We have made an application for an apartment in Zurich. It's got all of the features we require (well moving from KC Usa, we would have liked it it were 4000 sqft as well but that aint gonna happen I reckon).

It's a seriously good apartment and it's is actually under the price range and we've been accepted as well (thanks to some diligent work from our agent for putting us ahead of 4 other renters). The big catch here is that the owner is asking for a 3 year lease while our company expat contract is only for 2 years. We spoke with some other expats from the company who moved back 2 years ago and they said they did not need 3 year rental contracts when they were in the market in the 2007-2009 time-frame. But our reliable agent says that this is normal with apartments in Zurich and that we would face a similar situation with other apartments. As if to concur with our agent, we observed that many of the flats were shown to us by the tenants!

We're worried that if we take this apartment and are not able to find another tenant to "takeover" from us prior to expiration of lease but after the expiration of our contract, we'll be on the hook for a year's worth of apartment rent - not exactly chump change. Our agent is saying that this is fairly normal and we should not have a problem in locating a replacement at the expiration of our 2 year lease.

Could someone please provide additional thoughts and information - preferably leading to the acceptance of this lease agreement ?

Cheers!
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Old 05.12.2011, 18:44
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Re: 3 year lease

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The big catch here is that the owner is asking for a 3 year lease while our company expat contract is only for 2 years. We spoke with some other expats from the company who moved back 2 years ago and they said they did not need 3 year rental contracts when they were in the market in the 2007-2009 time-frame. But our reliable agent says that this is normal with apartments in Zurich and that we would face a similar situation with other apartments.
Tell your reliable agent that I've been here 24 years now and have never signed a lease for an apartment nor ever been asked to sign one. That doesn't mean you'll never find an apartment with a lease (they do exist), I'm just saying in my experience, it's not the "norm" here.

Have a look through the following site: http://www.homegate.ch/en?a=default&l=default
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Old 05.12.2011, 18:45
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Re: 3 year lease

If you leave after two years with one remaining, you only
have to bring 3 financially suitable potential tenants to be
your replacement. If you do this, your duties have
been performed.

If your landlord does not like this, you can go to the Mietverband
or Renter's Guild, if you will.

I would not worry about it because Zürich has an occupancy
rate of 99.5%.
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Old 05.12.2011, 19:25
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Re: 3 year lease

I second the remarks by HolidayG. Sign an open ended contract with house rental company. If your stay extends then you don't have any problems but if you leave early your apartment needs to be vacated on two moving dates (31 Mar and 30th Sept) with appropriate notice period or 3 acceptable takers if moving outside of those dates.

Make sure it is open ended normal contract. If it closed contract for 3 years and you move after 2, it will have more complications.
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Old 05.12.2011, 20:15
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Re: 3 year lease

The normal lease is 1 year minimum with certain dates that you can give notices, some with 2 and some with more. It all depends on the contract but you cannot get one until you said you will take the apartment and if you back out you will incur an admin fee of around 250CHF.

Having said all that, if you do take on an apartment and you need to leave early then you can either sublet (which is a bit of hassle) or give notice. Depends on the location and size of the apartment. It might not be too hard to get rid of especially if your employer has a policy of rotating staff every 2 year, may be one of the incoming will take it off you?

Good apartment is hard to come by but the rent has to be affordable to be able to get rid of it easily. If you think the usual rule of thumb for rent is one third of your net income and taking into account of "normal" expat incoming is on 120k mark; what type of people will you need to find to get the next tenant?

There was a thread on here somewhere that someone thought they signed for a 2 year lease but unbeknown to them that it was a 5 year one. If they had left as originally planned after 2 years, they might have a bit of problem. So you need to take that into account.

Having said all that, if you are happy with the apartment and you can try to get a copy of the contract to study, may be negotiate a little bit as well to keep the term down to 2 years. It might work and you won't know until you try.

Welcome to the forum and soon your new home in Zurich.
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Old 05.12.2011, 21:22
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Re: 3 year lease

Thank you all for your responses. All of the responses are pertinent!

The apartment is near perfect compared to the apartments that we have seen so far. It's more like a house than an apartment really. Having seen apartments and houses in different countries in different locations and circumstances and knowing that good housing is hard to come by - good or difficult market, I believe folks who are looking to rent will immediately prefer this one - if the location works for them and from what I have learnt about Zurich, there really is no "bad" location - it's mostly a case of better locations.

What I'm not sure of is the price. Is 4000 CHF a good price point where it's easy to find subletees?

cheers!
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Old 05.12.2011, 21:29
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Re: 3 year lease

I think if you like the apartment and the price is ok for you and the location is what you need, go ahead with the lease, though the contract is generally open ended. On one had you are secure for 2 years but on other hand you have tied your self up. I suggest you check the option of giving a notcie period in your lease 3 months or 4 months etc and then just go ahead with it. Also the price also depends on the size and location. Honestly speaking its not easy to find a house in Zurich and if you like one just go ahead.
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Old 05.12.2011, 21:31
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Re: 3 year lease

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What I'm not sure of is the price. Is 4000 CHF a good price point where it's easy to find subletees?
In my humble opinion, that's very expensive even by Swiss standards! Maybe that's why the owner is so keen on a 3 year lease? Otherwise, it's so easy to find tenants for flats in Zurich that there's no need for that kind of assurance.

Last edited by vwild1; 05.12.2011 at 23:35. Reason: fixed quote
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Old 05.12.2011, 21:37
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Re: 3 year lease

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What I'm not sure of is the price. Is 4000 CHF a good price point where it's easy to find subletees?

cheers!
4000CHF for what size though and location. If you do furnished let, then it might be easier (ie you charge a bit more to cover electricity, internet etc). A good place to do research on is UMS.ch. They are like an agency for subletting. If you are quite sure that you will be going at end of 2nd year and if I am thinking correctly, you will be coming in January. That is a time when everyone is coming and unless you are well organised, you might not be able to see any property until like mid-Jan if you are lucky enough to find something. So it is an option to let it to whoever is coming in to replace you. That way, it will be easier. Also if you like your relocation agent and that is appointed by your HR, they might be keen to help out then as they will get commission for it.

Sublet is a totally different ballgame, so I will stick to the other options first!
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Old 05.12.2011, 21:57
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Re: 3 year lease

Great points, gourmet. This is unf. not a rotational arrangement of Expats but like you said - Jan is the timeframe.

Glad to know that 4K for a 3BHK (1500 sqft) is expensive in CH as well.

However, this appears to be on the lower end of the homes we have seen in upper Horgen (Thalwil, Adliswil, Oberrieden etc.) even from CH perspective.

cheers!
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Old 05.12.2011, 21:59
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Re: 3 year lease

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Great points, gourmet. This is unf. not a rotational arrangement of Expats but like you said - Jan is the timeframe.

Glad to know that 4K for a 3BHK (1500 sqft) is expensive in CH as well.

However, this appears to be on the lower end of the homes we have seen in upper Horgen (Thalwil, Adliswil, Oberrieden etc.) even from CH perspective.

cheers!
You hadn't mentioned the size before That doesn't seem ridiculous now.
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Old 05.12.2011, 22:00
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Re: 3 year lease

I think I used the word sublet rather loosely here. We do not want to sublet we just want to look for a replacement for us when we leave after 2 years.
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Old 05.12.2011, 22:06
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Re: 3 year lease

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I think I used the word sublet rather loosely here. We do not want to sublet we just want to look for a replacement for us when we leave after 2 years.
in that case, work with your relocation agent, network in CH and your HR.. so you get to hear of people coming in or looking to move etc. That will be your best bet!

Enjoy your new home!

btw, make sure you check all the paperwork at least by 2 different persons (call me paranoid but I am not putting my name on anything that I do not understand). Also take a camera with you on check in.
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Old 05.12.2011, 22:15
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Re: 3 year lease

What is the apartment size and location will allow a more accurate answer

4000CHF in Zurich if its a good location is quite common. By comparison we used to have a 5.5 Zimmer in Wallisellen some 2.5 years ago and paid 3200CHF for something that was nice but nothing special. When we vacated it was relet in under a week.

So if you have a 4.5 or larger, views and good location in Zurich this is pretty common. It is not hard to pay even more then that. This is why we now life out the other side of Winterthur where it is much lower and we have more cows.
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Old 05.12.2011, 22:26
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Re: 3 year lease

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What is the apartment size and location will allow a more accurate answer

4000CHF in Zurich if its a good location is quite common. By comparison we used to have a 5.5 Zimmer in Wallisellen some 2.5 years ago and paid 3200CHF for something that was nice but nothing special. When we vacated it was relet in under a week.

So if you have a 4.5 or larger, views and good location in Zurich this is pretty common. It is not hard to pay even more then that. This is why we now life out the other side of Winterthur where it is much lower and we have more cows.
Might be worth pointing out that 5.5 room and 4.5 room flats don't mean the amount of bedrooms they have. A 5.5 room flat would have a kitchen, bathroom (maybe separate shower room and loo), lounge with adjoining dining room (the ".5" bit) and three bedrooms, for example.
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Old 05.12.2011, 22:46
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Re: 3 year lease

Thanks for a lot of useful information. I got the impression that for the location and size and features, this was a good price.

The only question really is if it will re-let (I guess that's the word I was looking for) in that price range. It looks like there is no reason to see why it will not from all the information I'm hearing.

It's a risk vs reward thing - trouble is we were not planning on having to take this risk - wonder if there an insurance policy to cover such risks !

Cheers!
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Old 05.12.2011, 22:56
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Re: 3 year lease

I would put it to the owner that you only have a 2 year contract to work in Switzerland and tell them that you won't have the right to stay on after. If the place is as good as you make out they should be able to guarantee getting someone in 2 years time.

I would not think that a place asking 4000CHF a month is that exclusive that you can insist on a 3 year lease. We only ever had a 1 year and it then went onto rolling renewal.

Ask them how long the last lease was and why they want a 3 year lockin lease. It seems unusual to insist on this length for a regular apartment
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Old 05.12.2011, 23:36
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Re: 3 year lease

I agree that you should get your relocation agent to negotiate a 2 year lease for you. Tell them that you really really really want the house but your work contract is fixed term for two years.

If you can't negotiate a 2 year contract make sure there is a get out clause in there. When we rented out house out the contract that was prepared and signed with the tenant did not have a get out clause. They were responsible for the rent up until the end of the contract date. We did let them out early. But we were not obliged to do so.
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Old 05.12.2011, 23:38
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Re: 3 year lease

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Ask them how long the last lease was and why they want a 3 year lockin lease. It seems unusual to insist on this length for a regular apartment
I'd be checking this too...getting locked in to something and then discovering you can't easily get out if your situation changes (if you are on 2 year L permit you may not easily change jobs if you are not happy...for example...).

The only people I know who got locked into a long painful contract, had legal problems getting back out again...

On the other hand, it's normal in switzerland to have very tight notice periods on the contract - I would check the details very closely to make sure there are no 'hidden surprises'.

4000 is not on the 'cheap' end of the rental market in Switzerland - so you are targeting a small group of people with very high salaries...and probably foreigners because locals with that sort of money to burn would be more likely to be trying to get a mortgage...
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Old 06.12.2011, 21:51
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Re: 3 year lease

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I'd be checking this too...getting locked in to something and then discovering you can't easily get out if your situation changes (if you are on 2 year L permit you may not easily change jobs if you are not happy...for example...).

The only people I know who got locked into a long painful contract, had legal problems getting back out again...

On the other hand, it's normal in switzerland to have very tight notice periods on the contract - I would check the details very closely to make sure there are no 'hidden surprises'.

4000 is not on the 'cheap' end of the rental market in Switzerland - so you are targeting a small group of people with very high salaries...and probably foreigners because locals with that sort of money to burn would be more likely to be trying to get a mortgage...
Great post.
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