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Old 10.11.2012, 00:33
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Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding ?

Hi

I'd appreciate your advice. The rent for the apartment is 1990 and on top is nebenkosten of 90chf. The apartment is 110m2. I have not seen any advert with nebenkosten so low. I read on comparis that a low nebenkosten can be used to make an expensive apartment appear more attractive initially, until of course, one gets a nice fat bill later on for what was used above the estimated. I read that nebenkosten should equate to around 10% of the monthly rent and if it is below this, then this should be viewed with caution.

In addition to this concern, I am also worried about the set up of the second bedroom. The room has a window which opens onto a enclosed space of around 1 m3. The enclosed space also has a glass roof on it, so it is almost impossible for fresh air to enter into the bedroom through the window. I found out that planning permission was given for this room to be used as cellar and not a bedroom. The advert for the property however states this as a bedroom.

I have approached the agency expressing my concerns if the room can be adequately ventilated to function as a bedroom. They said it can be.

The rental contract includes a page on guidelines on ventilating the apartment, suggesting 4 or 5 times per day for 5 to 10 mins. Is this normal ? The previous tenant told me it takes half a day to air the room. I worry therefore how much we will loose in eating if we have to open a window in the room opposite to get air into that bedroom. I feel that the rent requested is for a property offering two bedrooms and not one and the other being the one which was planned to be a cellar.

Despite my misgivings, I stupidly signed the contract. I felt pressure to sign as it is difficult to find apartments here. I wish I had not signed. I signed stating I sign under your guidance that the second bedroom can be adequately ventilated to function as a bedroom. I received the contract back with my statement crossed out. I questioned why my addition was removed and the agent said there was no need to add it in the contract, having assured me before I signed. If this is removed without my prior consent, then is the contract binding?

I am now worrying about what we are in for. With an underestimated nebenkosten and a room that doesn't really have a window, I feel we are being taken for a ride.

The building was built in 2005 so it is a new build and it has underfloor heating. The floor is stone. I can't imagine though that this heating would be so much more efficient that the nebenkosten could be so much lower than other properties I have seen advertised. I wondered whether the nebenkosten may be so low if the previous tenants were away from the flat a lot and therefore did not spend much on these costs. Would however the agent be allowed to note this as a fair indication of the costs ? Or could nebenkosten be low as the apartment does not have any communal garden surrounding it to be maintained?

Would there be any way I could get out of the contract although I have signed it ( but not yet moved in to the flat)?

Furthermore we have not yet let out our current flat and may risk paying rent for 2 flats. Oh my! Any advice would be greatly appreciated !! And thank you !
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Old 10.11.2012, 00:57
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

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Hi

I'd appreciate your advice. The rent for the apartment is 1990 and on top is nebenkosten of 90chf. The apartment is 110m2. I have not seen any advert with nebenkosten so low. I read on comparis that a low nebenkosten can be used to make an expensive apartment appear more attractive initially, until of course, one gets a nice fat bill later on for what was used above the estimated. I read that nebenkosten should equate to around 10% of the monthly rent and if it is below this, then this should be viewed with caution.

In addition to this concern, I am also worried about the set up of the second bedroom. The room has a window which opens onto a enclosed space of around 1 m3. The enclosed space also has a glass roof on it, so it is almost impossible for fresh air to enter into the bedroom through the window. I found out that planning permission was given for this room to be used as cellar and not a bedroom. The advert for the property however states this as a bedroom.

I have approached the agency expressing my concerns if the room can be adequately ventilated to function as a bedroom. They said it can be.

The rental contract includes a page on guidelines on ventilating the apartment, suggesting 4 or 5 times per day for 5 to 10 mins. Is this normal ? The previous tenant told me it takes half a day to air the room. I worry therefore how much we will loose in eating if we have to open a window in the room opposite to get air into that bedroom. I feel that the rent requested is for a property offering two bedrooms and not one and the other being the one which was planned to be a cellar.

Despite my misgivings, I stupidly signed the contract. I felt pressure to sign as it is difficult to find apartments here. I wish I had not signed. I signed stating I sign under your guidance that the second bedroom can be adequately ventilated to function as a bedroom. I received the contract back with my statement crossed out. I questioned why my addition was removed and the agent said there was no need to add it in the contract, having assured me before I signed. If this is removed without my prior consent, then is the contract binding?

I am now worrying about what we are in for. With an underestimated nebenkosten and a room that doesn't really have a window, I feel we are being taken for a ride.

The building was built in 2005 so it is a new build and it has underfloor heating. The floor is stone. I can't imagine though that this heating would be so much more efficient that the nebenkosten could be so much lower than other properties I have seen advertised. I wondered whether the nebenkosten may be so low if the previous tenants were away from the flat a lot and therefore did not spend much on these costs. Would however the agent be allowed to note this as a fair indication of the costs ? Or could nebenkosten be low as the apartment does not have any communal garden surrounding it to be maintained?

Would there be any way I could get out of the contract although I have signed it ( but not yet moved in to the flat)?

Furthermore we have not yet let out our current flat and may risk paying rent for 2 flats. Oh my! Any advice would be greatly appreciated !! And thank you !
I would speak to a lawyer, If they crossed out a part of the contract which you had signed, they did not agree to YOUR terms.
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Old 10.11.2012, 08:43
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

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I would speak to a lawyer, If they crossed out a part of the contract which you had signed, they did not agree to YOUR terms.
Actually, for the moment, I would just write back and say that as they are not prepared to incorporate your comments into the contract and that it was crossed out, you don't consider that a contract has been agreed upon. See what happens. Maybe they will consider you to be a troublemaker and consider themselves lucky to be rid of you.... If they don't and want to hold you to the contract, then I would go see a lawyer.

And FWIW I am fairly shocked that someone would consider a room like that a bedroom....

Actually, you might like to quote the following from Kanton Zurich "Gesetz über die Raumplanung und das öffentliche Baurecht
(Planungs- und Baugesetz)"


Belichtung
und Belüftung

§ 302.
1 Die Räume müssen genügend belichtet und lüftbar sein.
2 Wohn- und Schlafräume sind mit Fenstern zu versehen, die über
dem Erdreich liegen, ins Freie führen und in ausreichendem Masse ge-
öffnet werden können; die Fensterfläche hat wenigstens einen Zehntel
der Bodenfläche zu betragen.

Which basically says that rooms must have sufficient lighting and must be "airable"
Living rooms and bedrooms must have windows above the earth that must lead into the open and that can be opened sufficiently. The size of the windows must be at least 1/10 of the surface of the room.

I don't know about the rest ,but certainly the bit about the window being open to outside is not met in your case.

Here's a link to the complete law:

http://www2.zhlex.zh.ch/appl/zhlex_r..._7.9.75_55.pdf

Last edited by Snoopy; 10.11.2012 at 09:02. Reason: added ref to law
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Old 10.11.2012, 09:02
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

It sounds like to me, they are trying to market a storage space as a bedroom. Whether or not that is "legal", I don't know. Do you need the bedroom space? Are there only 2 BRs including the odd one? If you are uncomfortable, I would try and get out of the contract based on your previous additions that weren't accepted. Have you contacted the Mietverband? It seems odd that a new build would have such a strange configuration, I can't imagine that room was intended as a BR from the start.

We pay 280 every 2 months for the electricity for our house (over200 m2) so 90 a month might not be off. New places are really efficient. For us our heating (geothermal pump) uses just electricity...
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Old 10.11.2012, 09:19
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

Do exactly what Snoopy has said and immediately write back to them, registered letter, stating that they have crossed out your included terms & conditions on the contract without your permission. I would also state in the letter that you need clarity as to what the second bedroom is, as it seems to you to be be falsely advertised as a bedroom.


I am not a lawyer, but would've thought you have a grace period to dispute a contract if all is not what it seems.
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Old 10.11.2012, 09:23
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

They have changed the contract after you signed it and so they have committed a criminal offence. Take the contract to the police and ask them to charge the landlord with "Urkunden fälschung" it can bring about 5 years in jail, http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urkundenf%C3%A4lschung

I would NOT move into this apartment! A minimum standard is one bedroom for each person, or a couple, plus one room as a living room. The box room is NOT a bedroom, it is a reduit.

With over 100 sq meters, the Nebenkosten, including heating charges, will be well over CHF 300. You could join the local Mieterschutzverein in SG, http://www.mieterverband.ch/?gclid=C...FcG_3godNx0ATA

(This is my 3'000 th post!)

Schweiz Gesetze, Artikel 251 ( http://www.gesetze.ch/sr/311.0/311.0_026.htm )
Urkundenfälschung
1. Wer in der Absicht, jemanden am Vermögen oder an andern Rechten zu schädigen oder sich oder einem andern einen unrechtmässigen Vorteil zu verschaffen,
eine Urkunde fälscht oder verfälscht, die echte Unterschrift oder das echte Handzeichen eines andern zur Herstellung einer unechten Urkunde benützt oder eine rechtlich erhebliche Tatsache unrichtig beurkundet oder beurkunden lässt,
eine Urkunde dieser Art zur Täuschung gebraucht,
wird mit Freiheitsstrafe bis zu fünf Jahren oder Geldstrafe bestraft.
2. In besonders leichten Fällen kann auf Freiheitsstrafe bis zu drei Jahren oder Geldstrafe erkannt werden.
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Old 10.11.2012, 09:32
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

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(This is my 3'000 th post!)
Congratulations!
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Old 10.11.2012, 09:59
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

I was just wondering what is considered in the Nebenkosten here, or does it depend on the contract? In Germany, our last place they called it "Warmmiete" which I found odd as it didn't contain any of the utilities, just taxes, garbage, and the like. Water, electricity and gas were separate, and we had to pay those based on what we used, which does make sense...
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Old 10.11.2012, 17:33
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

Our NK includes heating, grounds maintenance, water.

We pay directly to the EKZ (electricity company) for metered electricity for lighting, electrical appliances including the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher in our apartment.

Our NK for a family of 5 in a 5.5 room 110 square metres or so...is around 220 chf per month. It's old heating in a old building. I'd be worried if the NK was below 170 per month for such a big apartment. 90 sounds extremely low...

At our previous apartment the heating was very inefficient and there was a fairly high maintenance cost for outdoor areas as there was a lot of grass and garden being attended to weekly in the summer season.

Being pressured to sign anything is always a bad idea to my way of thinking. We went twice to our current aparment to check it out plus the local area before deciding to take it.
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Old 10.11.2012, 18:01
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

Good instincts to be wary of the monthly charges for an apartment that size. We pay twice that officially (for a smaller apartment), and then another 1.5x that when we get our tally at the end of the year. It is painful financially and dishonest of the agencies to under-estimate like this, but what can you do?

I'd suggest you follow others' advice about them not agreeing to your terms. Also, get in touch with ASLOCA immediately. It's money well-spent to have a lawyer to consult with as many times as you need, and to represent you when things go wrong.

Sorry to hear you are having such a bad experience.
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Old 10.11.2012, 19:05
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

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We pay twice that officially (for a smaller apartment), and then another 1.5x that when we get our tally at the end of the year. It is painful financially and dishonest of the agencies to under-estimate like this, but what can you do?
I pay an extra Fr 50 into the fund every month, and then get the change back at the end of the accounting period. The interest lost is negligible, but it saves the agony of finding extra money when least expecting it.
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Old 10.11.2012, 23:12
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

Thank you. I very much appreciate your thoughts and useful information
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Old 11.11.2012, 00:56
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

Best to show this contract to the local tenant association and soon. Get the all clear.
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Old 11.11.2012, 01:04
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

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Get the all clear.
For what exactly?
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Old 11.11.2012, 11:32
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

So, you visited the apartement, you spoke with the previous tennant and you raised concerns with the agent. Your only saving grace is you signed with a caveat which cannot be over-ruled unilatrerlay by the agent, either they accept or they don't. If they don't they need to send you a new contract for you to make "clean signature".

If however you returned the contract after counter-signing (ie the agent sent the contrat with their signature already upon it) it will be diffiuclt to get out of it.

For a hand-written ammendment to be valid, both parties need to sign by it as an indication is is accepted by both parties. For you just to add it after they signed, it has no legal bearing.
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Old 11.11.2012, 12:10
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

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If however you returned the contract after counter-signing (ie the agent sent the contrat with their signature already upon it) it will be diffiuclt to get out of it.
Generally agents sent potential tenants an unsigned contract which the agent/landlord signs once it has been signed by the tenant. In his case the OP says that they signed the contract and made the change and the agent crossed out the change and sent it back.

So, my recommendation is to write back to agent and say a) that no agreement was reached (as they scratched out the change) and that the OP doesn't agree to the contract as it now stands without the change and that b) the cellar cannot be considered a bedroom as it doesn't meet the minimum requirements as laid down in the building code.

I am fairly sure that with that the problem will go away. It would make sense to try that without starting to get lawyers involved at this stage. But then my guiding principle is to always try and sort out issues at the lowest possible level.
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Old 11.11.2012, 19:25
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

If you needed a two bedroom apartment, why sign a lease when you clearly saw the room is not truly a bedroom.
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Old 12.11.2012, 09:17
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Re: Is nebenkosten too low ? Is a bedroom w/o window legal ? When is contract binding

I just want to thank you all very much for your thoughts and very useful information !!!! It has been really great to get some other views on our personal situation. I hope to speak to the mieterverband this morning. I wish you all a good day and I will let you know where we stand once I have spoken to the mietervervand. Thanks again !
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