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Old 23.05.2015, 15:39
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Landlord making changes to the property

Has any one have any idea of the legal ramification of changes that will shortly be made by the landlord to the rented property.
We have a two bedroom apartment on the first floor and is the only residential flat with the building and another one in the basement (although illegal) with the landlords office space on the ground floor. The stairway leads to our apartment and leads to a large balcony and another stairway from the balcony leads to a terrace the same size of our apartment.
When the apartment was leased around 7 years ago, it was understood that the terrace was for our use and even mentioned i the lease agreement.
Recently, the landlord has been making plans to build 2 apartments above us and therefore for access, he is closing up our balcony (aprox 3.5 meters wide and 10 meters long) and giving us a closed passage leading up to the entrance of the flat. So we will have no open space anymore for the many plants we already have in our balcony and we used to enjoy the summer months lunching and sunbathing in the balcony.
He is not telling us the whole truth and will just begin work before we know it. These days there have been engineers come up now and again and we fear the work will start soon. He had in fact told us of his plans last year but said it is far out in the future as he does not have enough money.
When we asked him, he just said he is repairing the terrace. But there is a lot more going on with people measuring our balcony etc....
What will our options be, if in fact he starts work in the next few days without any warning. And can he take away our space and leave us all closed up in the flat. There is no other balcony. We also loose the use of the terrace where we have our outdoor furniture, reclining beds, barbecue etc.
We would very much appreciate your advice. The canton we are dealing with here in Montreux, Vaud
Thanks,
Cecilia
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Old 23.05.2015, 16:18
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

Is the terrace part of your rent or are you simply using it? If you are not paying for it I am afraid you are SOL ..... . Hey at least you got 7 years of free use out of it.
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Old 23.05.2015, 16:41
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

"...understood that the terrace was for our use and even mentioned i the lease agreement."

If it is mentioned as part of the lease I should think you might get your rent reduced but I odn't suppose there's anything you can do to stop the work. Ask Asloca.
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Old 23.05.2015, 16:43
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

If the terrace is indeed mentioned in your tenancy agreement, in theory your landlord cannot simply deny you access to/use of it without some kind of compensation (reduction in rent perhaps), does the agreement mention the balcony as well?
You should be informed of any such changes in an official letter; he can't simply remove your access to what is basically part of your apartment without giving due warning and a reason.
An exception being for repairs, renovation, alterations to other parts of the building that require scaffolding, etc. and that should only be temporary, you are entitled then to a small rent reduction during such works but do have to ask for it.

Join your local branch of ASLOCA (Swiss renters association) asap. They're the best people to advice you about this.
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Old 24.05.2015, 03:57
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

Thanks for your response. The terrace is mentioned in the lease but the balcony is part of the flat itself. I should think that the landlord is not entitled to take away the space within our lease. The question here is not the reduction in rent but we can not forego the space which made this apartment very private and appealing to us although the rent does not at all justify the apartment on its own. The toilet and shower is much too small, you can barely fling a cat. To add to it he has installed a very small washing machine (as it would not fit a bigger one). Also the second bedroom is much too small. We will try and get in touch with ASLOCA for their opinion and action. Does anyone know the telephone number or whereabouts of this office for Montreux?
Much appreciate your help.
Cecilia
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Old 24.05.2015, 08:35
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

Of course the landlord could always decide that he is going to renovate the whole build or that he needs the apartment for a family member and legally terminate your lease....
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Old 24.05.2015, 08:47
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

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Thanks for your response. The terrace is mentioned in the lease but the balcony is part of the flat itself. I should think that the landlord is not entitled to take away the space within our lease. The question here is not the reduction in rent but we can not forego the space which made this apartment very private and appealing to us although the rent does not at all justify the apartment on its own. The toilet and shower is much too small, you can barely fling a cat. To add to it he has installed a very small washing machine (as it would not fit a bigger one). Also the second bedroom is much too small. We will try and get in touch with ASLOCA for their opinion and action. Does anyone know the telephone number or whereabouts of this office for Montreux?
Much appreciate your help.
Cecilia
ASLOCA
Avenue des Alpes 5
1820 Montreux
021 963 34 87

NB: They'll probably be shut tomorrow as it's a public holiday.

Jim2007 has a valid point, all the more reason to contact ASLOCA as soon as you can.
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Old 24.05.2015, 09:09
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

Presumably he's had to get permission for the renovation/extension work by putting in an application with the gemeinde/commune authorities. He can't just start changing things to that extent without having the necessary building approval. Check with them on that and also report the illegal apartment too.
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Old 24.05.2015, 11:45
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

If they report the illegal use, they might as well pack their bags now.
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Old 24.10.2015, 22:15
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

I am back!!! As I had suspected, construction started off full swing in June with a cheap contractor charging half as much as other contractors. Bad planning, delay in supply of water proofing etc. But on 1st August, the rain water came down one of our walls and a huge ikea picture soaked in the water and fell off the wall. I informed the landlord immediately. As the material had not arrived yet, they just covered the roof with thin plastic which kept flying all over the place due to the wind. On 8th August it rained a lot, and then all hell broke loose. Water kept pouring in our apartment from all the light fixtures etc.. 8 spots in all. Our mattresses, sofas etc. were all soaked. All our belongings were mishandled and treated very badly. Belongings were kept out in the rain and we were treated as if it is our problem and they have nothing to do with it, claiming that we do not have ECA insurance (my daughter's insurance got cancelled through no fault of hers). ECA refused their claim because it was clearly not caused by a natural disaster but by their construction. So they are now in negotiations with the builder's construction insurance who are as cheap. To this day nothing has been sorted out and during this time, the damp walls have been compounded by mold. On August 17th, the landlord and builder tried to force me out without even giving me any money for alternative accommodation. I refused to leave so on the 19th, he agreed to give me one months rent only on condition that he got it back from the insurance. Accommodation at such notice is hard to come by except in hotels. My daughter lives between Montreux and Zurich (accommodation in Zurich in a small room provided by the company), she also works between Zurich and Vaud but has not been able to come to her own apartment as there was no place to sleep and the mold was a huge problem. The money he gave was only sufficient for 20 days rent in a studio apartment and the landlord refused to compensate saying clearly in an email, that we have to continue paying the rent of the apartment and also pay for accommodation outside. So somehow, I convinced him that I come back and manage somehow which I did inspite of the unhealthy and messy condition. On this Monday, he said he needs to strip the walls to show the insurance architect the damage and the mold underneath the paper was too bad for me to continue living there. So he moved me to a studio apartment on the ground floor. From a paper I found in the apartment, he is claiming for the full rent of our apartment and for the studio apartment although i have just moved in and he is taking the full rent from us for the above apartment. The whole point is that he has had a new plan for the apartment for sometime and wanted to renew it according to that plan but he had said he does not have the money and would do it next year. However, he has seized this misfortune as an opportunity to claim a huge amount from the insurance company so he can do everything he wants to do. So all this delay and rotting walls just for the money. Finally, I do not expect the insurance to give him his request. They may even appoint their own contractor to do the work and the cheapest price possible which would be good for us as we could get back as quickly as possible.

Now you know the entire situation, I would like to know if ASLOCA would deal with such a problem where it involves construction damage and insurance. What do you think our rights are in such a situation. The landlord is not willing to give us a penny saying that no insurance in Switzerland will accept a claim on our behalf if we can not provide with the ECA policy number. Is that true? Apart from insurance, is the landlord not liable for the damages to our stuff, emotional stress etc. and the huge inconvenience. The way I see it is that the first thing they should have done is rented the machines to dry the walls and above the ceiling which would have cost them around chf 3000. The insurance company installed four of these machines just yesterday... all this time and all this damage which was compounded by the landlord's greed.

The flat is in my daughter's name. She has not come because there is no place for her to sleep and also because she has huge work priorities in Zurich and for the past 2 months has had only Sunday off. Asloca are closed then. She will try her best to come next week.

The flat above us in the meantime is almost ready and if insurance gives their ok, then the contractor will do our flat. All a matter of sharing the spoils between himself and the landlord. Greed!!! Greed!!! and more Greed!!!

Sorry for this long drawn out story but I need to give you the exact picture as it is and get some feed back on what our situation is. We can just wait it out and salvage what we can or bring about proper justice so that no one in Switzerland has to go through such an ordeal.

I just got a B permit on family reunification and am truly truly shocked that having worked in the Arab world, I have never experienced such gross inhumane behaviour although I want to admit that the landlord is a swiss national with an iranian heritage having come here around 25 years ago and the contractor a kosovo national. That much for Switzerland being the happiest country in the world!!!
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Old 24.10.2015, 22:17
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

Please split your first paragraph into multiple shorter paragraphs, it can put people off reading your post. Thanks
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Old 24.10.2015, 22:22
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

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...We will try and get in touch with ASLOCA for their opinion and action...
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I am back!!!...
TL;DR - I sincerely hope you contacted ASLOCA back in May and have not waited until all this happened...
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Old 24.10.2015, 23:09
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

Five months ago, almost to the day, you were advised to contact ASLOCA (I even found you their contact details); if you still haven't bothered to contact them and ask for their professional help then I don't see what more we can do.
They are the best placed organisation to help in this kind of situation.
Although they might now think it's too late.
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Old 24.10.2015, 23:33
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

Your daughter could have joined Asloca 5 months ago and discussed the issues with them by e-mail, letter or phone- any day of the week!
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Old 24.10.2015, 23:34
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

I realize that as I had to depend on my daughter to do that and she was not available. However, five months ago it was a different issue altogether. This time it is a damage and claims issue and just wanted to know if ASLOCA would take on such a case or are they only focused on unfair rents etc.?
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Old 24.10.2015, 23:38
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

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I realize that as I had to depend on my daughter to do that and she was not available. However, five months ago it was a different issue altogether. This time it is a damage and claims issue and just wanted to know if ASLOCA would take on such a case or are they only focused on unfair rents etc.?
Ask them They are a mediation service between tenants and landlords so take on any issue in that arena.
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Old 25.10.2015, 00:14
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

Thank you Adrian. Also, would you know with some certainty that no insurance company in Switzerland will entertain claims from the landlord for our goods or from us directly unless we have the ECA policy number despite the claim being outside the natural disaster category??
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Old 25.10.2015, 00:25
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

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Ask them They are a mediation service between tenants and landlords so take on any issue in that arena.
This ... again. Sorry, but if your daughter or yourself can't be bothered to join Asloca and ask for their professional and legal advice- and sit on your hands for 5 months + - what do you really expect from EF members here?

How could the ECA insurance be cancelled without your daughter's consent?
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Old 11.04.2016, 14:41
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

My daughter did contact Asloca who said the landlord is totally responsible to compensate us all the rent back from June and also for all the losses. They wrote to the landlord a letter but in the meantime, the builder's insurance agreed to compensate us so we dropped the claims against the landlord.

We moved back into an apartment in December and were very satisfied with the outcome. We got a brand new bigger toilet and room sizes were also changed plus we got an extra room extended into the balcony. So what was taken from us was compensated by extra flat space.

So it turned out all good but not without the sacrifices and inconvenience from our side.

Thank you all on this forum who bothered to respond.
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Old 11.04.2016, 14:46
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Re: Landlord making changes to the property

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Thank you all on this forum who bothered to respond.
It is amazing that with that attitude anybody did "bother to respond"
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