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Old 01.12.2013, 20:16
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Advice Needed - charged for heat when it was turned off

In September 2012 we were told by our landlord that we had to leave our apartment by the end of March 2013. They told us we could leave any time between the beginning of October and the end of March. They were knocking the building down to build a bigger apartment block. We moved on the 1st of December 2012. In October 2013 we received a large heating bill from the landlord - it refered to the period from May 2012 to April 3013. We had been expecting a large refund as we had been paying our monthly fee along with our rent during the summer when the heating was turned off and we left the apartment only 2 months after the heating was turned on. The heating in the building was turned off from the end of may to the beginning of October.

When the landlord calculated the heating bill they insist on evenly apportioning the cost evenly across all months even though the heating system was turned off from May to October. We accept we have to pay the heat for May, October and November but are contesting why we are being charged for the months where it was off.

I would greatly appreciate if someone could advise us on whether we have a chance of contesting this.
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Old 01.12.2013, 20:36
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Re: Advice Needed - charged for heat when it was turned off

That's fairly normal, doubt you'd get anywhere challenging it.

It isn't as simple as heating on/heating off. January also uses more fuel than October, and even August uses some fuel (I'm assuming you have hot water year round). So the only really fair way to do it would be to take a new reading every month. That's too much work though and so a yearly accounting is the norm.

If you move from one flat to another, you'll lose some money on one and gain some on the other, so probably a near wash for most people anyway.
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Old 01.12.2013, 21:14
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Re: Advice Needed - charged for heat when it was turned off

I understand and accept that one still uses hot water during the summer. However for us that was a separate charge and was provided using electricity and not heating oil. I am only contesting the heating oil charge - our bill is very specific. In our new apartment the heating charge is calculated on a monthly basis but it is a much more modern heating system.

In addition to the heating charge we were also charged for a whole load of items which we were never previously charged for - but technically fall under the contract.

To add insult to injury our landlord forced all of the tenants to move and then decided not to knock the building down but rent it out again.
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Old 01.12.2013, 21:32
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Re: Advice Needed - charged for heat when it was turned off

I looked into it a bit more and it seems I'm wrong - yearly accounting is indeed the norm but each month should be assigned a different percentage of the total year's energy costs.
See the chart on page 16 here:
http://www.mieterverband.ch/fileadmi...ebenkosten.pdf
Note that this only applies to energy costs: things like chimney cleaning or maintenance to the boiler would still be charged evenly over the whole year.

I'd send your landlord a copy of this document and ask for the bill to be recalculated.
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Old 01.12.2013, 21:35
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Re: Advice Needed - charged for heat when it was turned off

The magic keyword is Heizgradtag. It is a statistical measurement on which day the heating was on and how much energy was needed.

You can see the tally for Zurich here:
https://www.stadt-zuerich.ch/heizgradtage.secure.html

For begin of May 2012 to end of April 2013 there were 3462 Heizgradtage. But from May 2012 to End of Neovember 2012 there were only 862 Heizgradtage.

Remember: the energy used for heating is just one part of the bill, warm water and the infrastructure is another.
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Old 01.12.2013, 22:57
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Re: Advice Needed - charged for heat when it was turned off

I really cant thank you enough - you have saved me a lot of money. Thank you both very much.
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Old 01.12.2013, 23:32
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Re: Advice Needed - charged for heat when it was turned off

you could ask to see all the heating bills and the document where it shows how the charges are divided up between the units. my rental agency uses a coefficient for every month so the colder months are taken into account. i got a refund when leaving my last flat and ending up owing a little more when i moved into the current flat during the winter.
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Old 28.11.2014, 08:00
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Re: Advice Needed - charged for heat when it was turned off

How does the refund work in terms of the timing? For instance, say your bill comes in the summer and you paid the extra costs for the previous year. But then you pay the usual rent and NK for a few more months when the heating is now off and leave before it's on again for the winter.

Do you wait until the next year's bill comes in and see how it divides between you and the tenant who came afterwards? I know my agency did use a system with a monthly factor as they used this for our extra costs in our first year.
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Old 13.08.2015, 06:57
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Re: Advice Needed - charged for heat when it was turned off

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How does the refund work in terms of the timing? For instance, say your bill comes in the summer and you paid the extra costs for the previous year. But then you pay the usual rent and NK for a few more months when the heating is now off and leave before it's on again for the winter.

Do you wait until the next year's bill comes in and see how it divides between you and the tenant who came afterwards? I know my agency did use a system with a monthly factor as they used this for our extra costs in our first year.
Hehe, I'm quoting myself as I can now answer my own question. Hope the answer helps someone else too. The answer is yes, you wait until the bill comes. The landlord should contact you and refund any money owing into your account. If you don't hear from your landlord within a couple of months of the expected bill date, contact them and ask for a copy. They are supposed to do the accounting on it.
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