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Old 31.08.2013, 11:08
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renting a house vs. renting an apartment

Hi all,

me and the GF are checking out a house (with a bit of garden and so on), and so far in Switzerland we've only rented out apartments.

Are there any hidden costs we may not be aware of in renting a house vs. apartment?

For one we can see that usually the landlords say it's net rent (so no heating, water, electricity).

What else could be there? Are we responsible for renovation? Or other things?

Best Regards,
Tony
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Old 31.08.2013, 11:18
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Re: renting a house vs. renting an apartment

Sorry to start out being pedantic but since the replies are dependent on exact wording, could we have this again please.
renting out a flat - means letting someone else use YOUR flat and I don't think that it what you are saying, or is it?
landlords say it's net rent (so no heating, water, electricity)?

It would be easier to list the things which, when renting a house, you would be responsible for paying.
Garden upkeep?
Tools for garden and also snow removal?
Rubbish disposal?
TV or similar?
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Old 31.08.2013, 11:30
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Re: renting a house vs. renting an apartment

Depending on your contract, renting a house may mean you have to pay for a yearly cleaning of exterior blinds, facades and terraces as well as gardening costs. Water and heating costs will be more too.
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Old 31.08.2013, 11:50
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Re: renting a house vs. renting an apartment

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Depending on your contract, renting a house may mean you have to pay for a yearly cleaning of exterior blinds, facades and terraces as well as gardening costs. Water and heating costs will be more too.
Gardening costs and outside maintenance can be quite expensive!

Otherwise, you can do it yourself.
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Old 31.08.2013, 12:04
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Re: renting a house vs. renting an apartment

I wanted to rent a house but was adviced by my relocation company that the totality of utilities, garden maintenance, snow removal, etc. could cost 500-1000 chf more per month than renting an apartment. We compromised and rented A 5.5 apartment with balcony that rests on a biking, walking, running trail and has large open park space a few meters down the way.
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Old 31.08.2013, 12:31
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Re: renting a house vs. renting an apartment

We found that renting a house was much more expensive than renting an apartment.

Water, heating, electricity, insurance, snow clearing etc all have to be paid for. Some parts of these are shared when you rent an apartment.

Before signing the contract, I would definitely ask to see the previous 12 months receipts, especially for electricity and water.
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Old 31.08.2013, 12:50
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Re: renting a house vs. renting an apartment

When renting a house, you might also be responsible for de-calcifying the pipes every X years, which can be a few thousand to many thousand. And you are likely responsible for ordering the fuel and maintaining the heating system, as well as emergency repairs.

If the house has a washer and dryer you are likely responsible for maintaining these, including repairs, as well.

Watch your contract - naive as I was way back when I assumed that the landlord would be responsible for these things, as a landlord would be in most other countries. Not necessarily the case here.

You are generally responsible for garden maintenance, as others have pointed out - but again, watch your contract. You might be required to use a professional gardener rather than DIY, which if you are keen gardners takes all the fun out of having a garden. Or, you might be required to use a specific gardener (usually the landlord's brother in law ) at rates quite a bit higher than usual. Often one is required to return the garden to it's original state when leaving the house - which might mean tearing up all the planting you have done in the intervening years.

Oh, and check the contract very carefully re: tree maintenance. Yearly pruning to regulation height or removing dead or diseased trees can run into the thousands.

On the plus side, ask if you can have electric, water, heat, etc. directly billed to you rather than included as Nebenkosten. That way you can control your usage and might benefit from conservation efforts - something not always possible in shared housing.

I'd still opt for a house with garden over a flat anytime - but knowing now what I didn't konw them I'd buy the house if at all possible rather than rent it. Renting a house means all the work and expense, little benefit. When you buy not only could you save on mortgage vs. rent, but also you, not your landlord, benefit from the work done.
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Old 31.08.2013, 14:10
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Re: renting a house vs. renting an apartment

It all depends on the house and the contract. We have rented a house for the last two years:

We pay:
- directly the water and electricity
- to the managing company, a share of the snow removal costs and garage cleaning costs (about CHF 150 per year)
- annual service of the heating system (about CHF 150, the managing company arranges a group deal with a local plumber that we can choose to use - or not. The plumber comes at a certain time and does all the houses who choose to participate)
- responsible for small repair costs up to CHF 500

We are not required to
- service appliances such as washing machine
- pay for garage cleaning
- use a specific gardener or return the garden to its original condition. However we will need to sort out the murdered grass before we move....it died during the hot summer weeks as we were away and didn't water.

The house is in good condition and our costs have been far lower than the Nebenkosten quoted in many adverts
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Old 31.08.2013, 14:38
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Re: renting a house vs. renting an apartment

I think it depending a lot on the individual contract. In the property we rented for 12 years we were responsible for maintaining the garden, but not the trees; electricity - we couldn't get the water billed directly to us, the commune said no it had to go to the landlord, he paid it and then we paid him - interior painting if needed, but not outside iirc. The few times we had appliance problems the items were unrepairable so had to be replaced at no cost to us. No service costs, no snow clearing (DIY around here) nor garage cleaning. We did the garden and hedge trimming ourselves so no bills there either.

Now we own a house with an oil central heating system so our bills are a bit higher, but offset by the lower mortgage we pay.

Definitely check on what previous tenants have been paying for utilities over the last couple of years.
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Old 31.08.2013, 15:38
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Re: renting a house vs. renting an apartment

Dear all,

Thank you for your quick and helpful replies.

Yes indeed the situation is that me and the GF are living in an apartment in Zurich that we are paying for (renting from the landlord).

The house has been posted on some websites and it only states "Rent / month:", nothing else. Hence our doubts about what else can be on our behalf.

Next week we are having a meeting the landord of the house and therefore would like to just know more about what we can expect.
It's going to be good to have this list of things to ask about what's included and what's not. Thank you all for your input!

So far from the previous tenant we've gathered that we should clean the garage entrance ourselves (snow), trim all the bushes and garden, and have the chimney from the oil boiler/heater cleaned out yearly. I specifically asked about the boiler maintenance and the previous tenant said the landlord would take care of it... however I want to be sure.
On top of that, we were also informed that we pay electricity plus water directly to the supplier.

Hopefully we don't miss anything.

If you can remember more possible costs please let us know.

Best Regards,
Tony
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Old 31.08.2013, 16:25
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Re: renting a house vs. renting an apartment

As well as having the boiler chimney cleaned yearly there is also a canton control check on the boiler system which is done every two years (at least here in Fribourg). It may be done by the same chimey sweep as does your chimney cleaning for you. I've just had my new sweep come around a couple of weeks ago and do the control for me which I was very pleased to get done as it was overdue by a couple of years and I was getting worried I'd be fined. It only cost us CHF68 so not expensive, but something else to check whether it's your responsibility or the landlord's.
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Old 01.09.2013, 07:31
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Re: renting a house vs. renting an apartment

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Depending on your contract, renting a house may mean you have to pay for a yearly cleaning of exterior blinds, facades and terraces as well as gardening costs. Water and heating costs will be more too.
Gardening costs will more than likely be the responsibility of the tenant. If there are large trees, the tenant may be required to have them professionally maintained. This may also be the case if you rented an apartment, except that cost is shared amongst other units.

So take a close look at the garden, see what is involved in taking care of it, and make sure you are prepared to do it. Ask the owner what they expect and make sure the garden is in good shape when you move in. Take photos. Shrubs and small trees need care but unless there is a big hedge, the work should not be too expensive even if you call someone to trim them.

Water and heatings costs may not necessarily be more than an apartment. You will only pay for what you use personally. In an apartment, you not only pay for these services for the common areas and general usage, but it could be a heating system that bills apartments by square meters, not usage.

Electricity is another area where you may actually save if you, for example, try to use major appliances at the lower rate period (evenings) or Sundays. In an apartment it is much more difficult to use the washer and dryer at night or Sundays.

In some communes, owners must keep some utilities and services in their own name. So the tenant is billed for these by the owner. So ask about the garbage tax and sewage (usually billed with the water). If the owner is going to bill you for these, this needs to be specificed in the contract.

As for the exterior maintenance and cleaning, you are expected to take care of the house. One thing you need to watch out for is who cleans the gutters. If they get blocked with leaves, this will be a problem.

If there is oil heating, there are maintenance costs so ask who pays for these including the chimney sweeper. The decalcing of the hot water boiler is usually done every 3 years and the tenant is expected to pay.

A house may give you far more privacy than an apartment, but it is more work to maintain. So ask yourself if you have the time and energy to do this properly.
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