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Old 25.06.2015, 11:36
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Some legal trouble with our apartment

So my wife and i are in a bit of a bind and i would like some help from this community to see if you have experience with this or something similar. So here is the story:

This whole ordeal starts at 3:30 in the morning when a device (intercom system/interphone) in our apartment started beeping and wouldn’t stop. We could not sleep through the beeping and could not get the beeping to stop, so after an hour of beeping, I took the device off the wall. The next day my wife and I were to be married at the standesamt and the day after left for our honeymoon. We came back a week later with a note on our door. The note said we had to call this person and make an appointment for this electrician to come into the apartment and look at this device. Apparently the apartment buildings doorbells didn’t work for a few days while we were on our honeymoon.

This guy comes in and tells me the unit is broken. He replaces the unit and, on the original paperwork, he says the bus on the device is defective. A week later we get a bill for 400CHF for this work he did. On another note, we were not notified there would be any charge for this visit. This was something we were told we had to do. We then got a letter in the mail saying that when i took the device off the wall, somehow it shorted the entire building and now we were responsible for paying for the technician who visited the apartment building while we were on our honeymoon. This bill is over 1000CHF.

The "Verwaltung" first said we caused this by crossing the two wires which made the short in the building, which i would like to add was never mentioned on the original technicians paperwork. We contacted a lawyer and wrote them a letter saying there is no proof we crossed the wires, and the way it is set up in the wall, it is not probable that this is the case. After this, they changed what they were saying to, it is possible for this to happen (not that we did) and they can prove it to us (of course for an additional 600CHF, however, they are not setting foot in our apartment now). Our response to this was we are sure it is possible, but we don’t care what is possible, we care about what happened and why we are getting billed when the bill is addressed to the apartment building. After this they changed their response again to say we didn’t notify the "Verwaltung" before our honeymoon and because of that we have to pay for the whole buildings work because they had to search for the cause in all other apartments.

The problem with this is the electrician, who is high in management in the company who came to our apartment, lives in this building. He is the one putting pressure on us when this shouldn’t concern him at all. The bill for 1000CHF was directed to our building managers, not to the owners of the apartment, so there is a conflict of interest in this and we don’t think he should be talking to us at all. If i am thinking correctly, he should be pressuring the building managers and the building managers should pressure us. However, this is not the case right now. I am wondering what legal standing we have. We did nothing wrong EXCEPT not contacting the Verwaltung before our honeymoon. We have already ordered a book about our rights as owners in a Stockwerkeigentum and will be going through that book once we get it to try and find something that may help our case legally.

Can anyone shed light on this situation as far as a legal standpoint.

Thanks for everyone who reads and can give my wife and i some input in this ordeal we are in.
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Old 25.06.2015, 11:43
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

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He replaces the unit and, on the original paperwork, he says the bus on the device is defective.
If you have paperwork stating the fault was in the device, then the 400 CHF is clearly not your responsibility. I'd simply highlight this on a copy, and send a letter back saying that replacing a faulty unit cannot be charged to you.

On the 1000 CHF, you could maybe argue that the faulty device could have caused it - but that's hard when you didn't notify them. They could easily have spent a lot of time trying to work out why the system was broken if they didn't know you'd removed the device. You can't really take off part of a shared system without letting them know.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 25.06.2015 at 14:30. Reason: changed name in quoted text
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Old 25.06.2015, 12:06
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

We just got a phone call stating that when our device is defective, then we MUST pay for it according to the law here. And if the device hinders operation in the building we MUST pay for that as well.

The building manager then said insurance could pay for it. So we are talking to our insurer. However, we have already paid the 400CHF. So we need a refund of that and then the bill will be remade to the whole 1400CHF charge. I dont understand how their arguement for forcing us to pay this bill had to change 4 times before it became clear as to what really is the case. This has been a frustrating ordeal, i just hope it clears up soon.

Thanks for the reply and if anyone else has input, please let us know!
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Old 25.06.2015, 12:44
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

Sorry, I didn't see the bit about being an owner - in that case it makes sense that you're responsible for items in the property.

How old is it? The guarantee on a newly built place is not just the standard two years, I think it's five years.
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Old 25.06.2015, 13:08
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

As far as the age im not so sure. And we assume ownership since my wifes parents actually own the apartment. So whatever bills are forwarded to them are our bills if that makes sense. Sorry if that detail is immportant and i left that out...

That is a greaat question though. What are we responsible for in our apartment? This device we are apparently responsible for. What else falls under our liability vs the liability of the building we live in?
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Old 25.06.2015, 13:18
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

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That is a greaat question though. What are we responsible for in our apartment? This device we are apparently responsible for. What else falls under our liability vs the liability of the building we live in?
Simple - everything within your walls not explicitly covered by something on the deeds.

So for example if you're a top floor the deeds should have something about shared responsibility for the roof. They should also have something about shared responsibility for common areas and facilities (like shared lighting, heating, main building power supply etc).

Last edited by 3Wishes; 25.06.2015 at 14:31. Reason: changed name in quoted text
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Old 25.06.2015, 13:29
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

That actually helps us a lot. Thanks for that reply! I will let my wife know and as we read the book of rights in the stockwerkeigentums, we will understand more. I guess we will see where it goes from here and hope the insurance company covers this issue
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Old 25.06.2015, 13:34
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

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That actually helps us a lot. Thanks for that reply! I will let my wife know and as we read the book of rights in the stockwerkeigentums, we will understand more. I guess we will see where it goes from here and hope the insurance company covers this issue
Why should they ?

It's your device and you own the appartment, you broke your own object, unless of course you can cheat and diddle your insurance company and have your insurance pay your in-laws.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 25.06.2015 at 14:31. Reason: changed name in quoted text
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Old 25.06.2015, 13:36
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

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As far as the age im not so sure. And we assume ownership since my wifes parents actually own the apartment. So whatever bills are forwarded to them are our bills if that makes sense. Sorry if that detail is immportant and i left that out...

You have to pay for the work on your device. Sorry. You called the electrician. (For the future, before you get an electrician get a quote, and before you get a quote ask about the price of a quote, and then shop around)

As your device "fried" the whole system, and you did not inform the management you may be liable for the CHF 1000.

No need for one single bill over CHF 1400.

But your in-laws or you can forward the CHF 1000 bill to their liability insurance. It is a perfect example for liability insurance: Something of yours, or actions of yours, damages other people stuff.

Another question is: Are 1000 CHF to much or do they reflect the actual work carried out. At standard rate it is approx. 8h of work.
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Last edited by 3Wishes; 25.06.2015 at 14:31. Reason: changed name in quoted text
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Old 25.06.2015, 13:43
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Its not that we broke the object. The object was causing an annoyance for over an hour at 3 in the morning, and due to this annoyance, we removed it from our wall. If the object is covered under insurance then why would we pay for someone to come and fix this?

We were told we HAD to have someone come and fix this and were charged for it withour prior knowledge of a charge. I find it funny the building manager has to change the reason we HAVE to pay for this bill 4 times before we find something that actually is legally sound. This system the building manager is taking seems fishy and there are too many conflicts in this whole story to portray in a simple forum. I just wanted some simple advice which is the point of this post.

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You have to pay for the work on your device. Sorry. You called the electrician. (For the future, before you get an electrician get a quote, and before you get a quote ask about the price of a quote, and then shop around)

As your device "fried" the whole system, and you did not inform the management you may be liable for the CHF 1000.

No need for one single bill over CHF 1400.

But your in-laws or you can forward the CHF 1000 bill to their liability insurance. It is a perfect example for liability insurance: Something of yours, or actions of yours, damages other people stuff.

Another question is: Are 1000 CHF to much or do they reflect the actual work carried out. At standard rate it is approx. 8h of work.

This is the thing we learned in this whole ordeal. Yes 1000CHF is way too much for a 1 year or second year lehrling to come and work for 2 hours on the building. Another thing is the electrician is 20 minutes away and we are charged for 1.5 hours of a drive for them. I dont agree with this at all since google maps claims a 20 minute drive. So why are we charged for 1.5 hours of a commute? The liability insurance is something we will pursue. We dont have 1000CHF just laying around to avoid this headache. Again, there is a conflict of interest and many more factors of this case that are too hard to portray in a forum :/

I understand paying for the divice, we were just unaware that we would have to pay for it since the building required us to have them come over. If i knew the charge from the beginning, then we would have, of course, looked at a different electrician. This company clearly charges way too much which we now know and in the future will pursue a different company to work on our apartment. This situation and the parties involved are not appropriate in my opinion.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 25.06.2015 at 14:02. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 25.06.2015, 13:52
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

For the CHF 400 bill.

Who owns the device? You.
Who ordered the electrician? You.
Who pays? You.

For the CHF 1000 bill.
Whose device caused the malfunction? Yours.
Who pays? You. (If you have third party liability insurance, which every home owner should have, you can forward the bill directly or pay the bill yourself and get reimbursed )
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Old 25.06.2015, 13:53
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

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Its not that we broke the object. The object was causing an annoyance for over an hour at 3 in the morning, and due to this annoyance, we removed it from our wall. If the object is covered under insurance then why would we pay for someone to come and fix this?
It shouldn't be covered under insurance.

And removing it probably caused other problems, unless you knew what you were doing (did you?).

Tom

Last edited by 3Wishes; 25.06.2015 at 14:31. Reason: changed name in quoted text
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Old 25.06.2015, 13:54
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

Just a note.

Keep things separate. 1) Who has to pay. 2) The actual amount of the bill.
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Old 25.06.2015, 13:56
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

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For the CHF 400.

Who owns the device? You.
Who ordered the electrician? You.
Who pays? You.

For the CHF 1000.
Whose device caused the malfunction? You.
Who pays? You. (If you have third party liability insurance, which every home owner should have, you can forward the bill directly or pay the bill yourself and get reimbursed )
This is what we are going to try and do. However, the electrician was something we were told we MUST do. We were not given an option on the electrician. (Looking back we now have learned and will act differenetly in future situations)
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Old 25.06.2015, 14:49
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

You wrote,

We contacted a lawyer and wrote them a letter saying there is no proof we crossed the wires, and the way it is set up in the wall, it is not probable that this is the case.

What does your lawyer advise now?
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Old 25.06.2015, 23:28
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

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You wrote,

We contacted a lawyer and wrote them a letter saying there is no proof we crossed the wires, and the way it is set up in the wall, it is not probable that this is the case.

What does your lawyer advise now?
probably that he does more legal checking :P
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Old 25.06.2015, 23:48
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

I somehow don't understand the original issue: you ripped the whole intercom system from the wall?
Couldn't you just switch-off its fuse?
Usually, you pay the electricity to your door-bell/intercom - as such, it's connected to some fuse in your fuse-box.
Unless it's the one powering the fridge, it could easily have been pulled for the night....

Hopefully, at least the honeymoon was OK.
It's definitely over now, though ;-)
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Old 26.06.2015, 07:39
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

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I somehow don't understand the original issue: you ripped the whole intercom system from the wall?
Couldn't you just switch-off its fuse?
Intercoms don't work that way, at least ours doesn't.

They are powered by the intercom central unit, there is no local power to disconnect.

Tom
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Old 26.06.2015, 08:25
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

Hi, sounds strange that the device was beeping - perhaps this was an indication that there already was a fault in the system? Then it could be that the fact that you removed it from the wall has resulted in you being 'blamed' so to speak.

I would ask them to explicity explain the details of the situation; was the device you removed from the wall replaced? Was it tested for a fault? If not, why not? What was the root cause of the system failure anyway?

It can be very difficult to argue the case with such people. We had one landlady who—as far as she was concerned—knew everything better than you. And I mean everything. And whatever you did, you did it wrong. Always.

Electricians (failed Electrical Engineers?) are also prone to being typically arrogant in such cases.

Good luck !
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Old 26.06.2015, 10:13
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Re: Some legal trouble with our apartment

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Intercoms don't work that way, at least ours doesn't.

They are powered by the intercom central unit, there is no local power to disconnect.

Tom
OK - but ripping it out of the wall?
WTF-worthy at least, if you ask me...
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