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Old 24.06.2015, 03:24
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Need advice on lying landlord/unforeseen construction

We rented a house in April (before we actually moved here) and were told at the last minute when we went to sign the lease that half the large yard would be sold off and two villas built on that land. As we at that point did not have time to find a different place to rent, we did much back and forth with the Regie who assured us that the owner said the construction project would likely not start for at least a year because it had recently been rejected by the canton of Geneva. So to buy us a little peace of mind, we renegotiated that we could give 30 day notice 9 months into the lease for peace of mind. The contract does indicate that we are aware that there might be construction.

now that we have moved in, the reality we are just told is that not only is that villa construction project going to start 5 months into the lease this coming September (not the year or more they verbally indicated), but that another construction project on the existing house we rented has to take place by January/February 2016 in order for the Canton to approve the construction of the two villas (the project we were told about). This means in effect that we will be living literally in a construction zone for 4-6 months right on the walls of where we live as they have to take an old Grange and reduce the roof line and make it a liveable room.

The Regie claims they owner did not tell them about this second project. The owner claims they thought they had 3 years to do the second project to make right with the Canton but that the Canton changed the rules and they did not know.

The reality is that these folks are in financial trouble and saw us as a cash flow solution and so told us whatever was needed to get us to sign the contract. But now that we are hear with our two children and about to sign them up to school, and awaiting our things by ship fro USA any day now, we are stuck.

We plan to see Asloca soon, but today we spoke with the Regie who suggested we simply find another house. They also said that if it went to court, we would likely end up with nothing. When I explained that we are awaiting a shipment of our things from the USA (we just moved) and that moving again would cost us a lot of $$ I then asked why the owner doesn't lower the rent to compensate for this unforeseen construction? At first the Regie was reticent, but when I noted to them that no one would rent the house now, given what they know about constructions, then said they would ask their lawyer if we had a right to ask for that. But I fear this is not what they want and I don't trust them.

I recently read a thread that indicated that one can demand compensation for construction noise and disturbance. Is this true? our contract does say that we are not due lower rent compensation for the construction, but verbally at least, we were told this was the construction on the two villas. The other construction was not mentioned at the time of signing the contract.

Essentially at the time, they had us a sign a lease under false pretenses, but most of this is verbal conversations/assurances...there are some emails between us and the Regie.

Suggestions besides getting a lawyer or the obvious thing to move out?

Does anyone have relevant experience or advice on how we might push back for rent reduction or even reimbursement for "forced" moving costs?
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Old 24.06.2015, 07:21
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Re: Need advice on lying landlord/unforeseen construction

Rent reduction from what I understand is normal procedure.

You may be able to create fuss to delay the construction, or to move out earlier. However, what difference does it make if they did the construction in 6 or 12 months? Did you intend it only to be a short-term lease.

You could also ask for, in writing, confirmation of the construction rules (hours of noise, access to your property, rent reduction)... And decide whether it will be a massive inconvenience.

We live in a flat and both work and our kids are at school all day, so are not often home during 'work' hours, so construction noise impact would be minimal. However, if you are planning to work from home, have small children or are pregnant or unwell, it could be extremely inconvenient.

However, there will be a huge difference in terms of efficiency and inconvenience if they start in the warmer months (when you can easily get out and about to avoid the noise) or during winter, when it gets dark early and you will probably want to be indoors in your home a lot more.

We moved into a 'demolition' when we first arrived, and what was originally a 6 month lease turned into over 2.5 years unti they really started working on it...
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Old 24.06.2015, 13:56
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Re: Need advice on lying landlord/unforeseen construction

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Rent reduction from what I understand is normal procedure.

Thanks for this....do you mean requesting a reduction due to construction?

You may be able to create fuss to delay the construction, or to move out earlier. However, what difference does it make if they did the construction in 6 or 12 months? Did you intend it only to be a short-term lease.

At this point, we have had several conversations with the owner who feigns that he wants to make us a comfortable as possible and work with us, but in fact, when we requested they put off construction, he came back to us yesterday and told us the bad news, seemingly out of his control as he has made a deal with a "promoteur"/developer that he apparently does not have much control over the project...at least that is what he tells us. We did not intend for it to be a short lease, we signed a 2.5 year lease but when they told us about construction on the villas, we asked for a 9 month break clause just in case it went south. But our intention was never to move.

You could also ask for, in writing, confirmation of the construction rules (hours of noise, access to your property, rent reduction)... And decide whether it will be a massive inconvenience.

We asked for that yesterday and they said they will do so. However we did not ask in writing for rent reduction. I think that is our next step.

We live in a flat and both work and our kids are at school all day, so are not often home during 'work' hours, so construction noise impact would be minimal. However, if you are planning to work from home, have small children or are pregnant or unwell, it could be extremely inconvenient.

I do not yet have a job and plan to start a business from home if possible. We also have a cat whose yard access would be in the construction zone.

However, there will be a huge difference in terms of efficiency and inconvenience if they start in the warmer months (when you can easily get out and about to avoid the noise) or during winter, when it gets dark early and you will probably want to be indoors in your home a lot more.

They are proposing winter because part of the project affects the deck outdoors which they are in fact extending. The thinking is that we will not want to be outdoors in winter using the deck/yard.

We moved into a 'demolition' when we first arrived, and what was originally a 6 month lease turned into over 2.5 years unti they really started working on it...
We already asked them to push it back 2 years and they said not possible. They lied. Thanks again for your input.
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Old 24.06.2015, 14:23
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Re: Need advice on lying landlord/unforeseen construction

Quote "The contract does indicate that we are aware that there might be construction.... our contract does say that we are not due lower rent compensation for the construction"
Regies & promoteurs often say it might not happen knowing full well it will, whether renting or buying is involved. The Canton will blame the commune, the commune will blame the canton. There is no way they'll put off construction because of a renter.
They have covered their asses on the rent reduction already based on what you've said. Even a lawyer won't be able to do anything as from what you say construction is mentioned in the rent agreement & anyway it would take years for that kind of argument, so it's either try to live with it or move out IMHO.
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