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Old 18.07.2015, 06:05
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Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

Hi everyone,

Id really appreciate if someone could give me advice or share their experience on owning an apartment. Ill start here and then will seek legal advice.
I own an apartment in Switzerland, mortgage, the lot. We are a block of 14 flats and in May had our AGM. During this meeting it was unanomously decided to "invest" in improvement of the lift, front entrance, some other garden work, and front doors of each apartment (because they dont match in style). The total budgeted cost will be circa 500k, paid for by the owners. So no need to be a mathematitian here....

Now, i dont give a @#$/ what the doors look like, mine is not broken and it has been attached to my flat for a number of years without a problem.

So my question is, where do these people get this sort of money from? Last year before i bought it, previous owners spent 50k towards the cost of improving the communal garden (total was over 800k. Its crazy!)

Do i have to go into further debt everytime the neighbours decide they are not "feeling" the doors or the colour of the building?

Do they expect me to magically produce 30k-50k on a yearly basis to pay for plants and front doors?

Has anyone been through this?

One old lady mentioned that she can't afford this "investment" and yet she voted for it... insane...
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Old 18.07.2015, 06:21
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Re: Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

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Hi everyone,

Id really appreciate if someone could give me advice or share their experience on owning an apartment. Ill start here and then will seek legal advice.
I own an apartment in Switzerland, mortgage, the lot. We are a block of 14 flats and in May had our AGM. During this meeting it was unanomously decided to "invest" in improvement of the lift, front entrance, some other garden work, and front doors of each apartment (because they dont match in style). The total budgeted cost will be circa 500k, paid for by the owners. So no need to be a mathematitian here....
I assume you meant unanimously. Given that, I fail to see the problem - if everyone voted for it, you included, you've got nothing to complain about.

Next time, stand up and disagree.

As for where you get the money from, it's unlikely that the others have mortgaged themselves to the limit; most Swiss tend to buy more conservatively than that. They also will have done the mental math of factoring the improvements into the resale price, and will be counting on getting the money back when they sell in 30 years.
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Old 18.07.2015, 08:44
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Re: Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

Welcome to the wonderful world of shared ownership.

First rule: Never, ever miss an annual meeting.

Second rule: For all proposals that involved shared costs, demand additional quotes for the work.

(It is not unknown that a resident championing the proposal has a financial interest, or a relative with a financial interest, in the company providing the work. But instead of 'mate's rates', you find an inflated quote.)

I live in a Quartier - we all own our own houses and gardens, but there is a common garage and walkway to the houses, as well as shared infrastructure, with a Gestaltungsplan governing the exteriors of the houses. Our meetings usually turn into three hour bun fights over trivia where I find myself losing the will to live. But not paying attention, or not attending, means that the group might just vote to have the absent member shoulder the project cost rather than divide it equally. Apparently that happened once, before my time.

From what I have seen at our meetings, getting everyone else to pay for a project that will only benefit me seems to be 'the Swiss way'. Or perhaps 'the Schwyzer way'. I am continually shocked at the chutzpah of some of my neighbors.

Anything can happen at an annual meeting - so make sure you protect your interests, and speak up against anything you do not want to happen.

Check the contract governing your shared ownership. You are likely bound by any decision voted in at the owners meeting - hence the need to be actively involved.

---

Improvements to shared infrastructure are usually done out of a fund. The fees you pay yearly go into this fund and accumulate over years against future maintenance. For a 500K project (that seems high even by Hochpreisinsel standards, btw., but obviously I do not know the details) I would imagine that most of the cost is already covered in the accumulated fund - so hopefully your out of pocket costs won't be 500K/14.

---

I suppose I should count myself lucky that our most vicious bun fight is only over the color of window box geraniums each year, not over matching doors.

---

Hope it all works out...

ETA:

If projects are being voted in that are not covered by the maitenance or capital improvement fund, the first question is why - to me that sounds like poor financial management. Who governs the building meetings - is there a board made up of owner representatives, or does the owner's group employ a professional manager?

When things started to get ridiculous in our Quartier, an epic bun fight resulted in the governing board (a clique who felt entitled to do as they pleased) being replaced with a professional management firm. Final decision rests with the owners' vote, but the management firm sorts out proposals and quotes for work done and presents them to the owners. A representative of the firm chairs the owners' meetings. Yes, we pay a nice chunk o' change to the management firm but it has saved many thousands in foolish proposals... and cut down on some of the sillier arguments during the meetings.

Last edited by meloncollie; 18.07.2015 at 09:08.
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Old 18.07.2015, 09:51
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Re: Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

Half a million for 14 doors, a bit of gardening and some lift maintenance?

I'm guessing your local contractors are driving round in AMGs.
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Old 18.07.2015, 10:03
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Re: Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

This experience is a useful object lesson for those buying an apartment under the standard Swiss shared ownership system (Ger: "Stockwerkeigentum").
It is often pointed out that you check the minutes of the regular owners meetings, before making the purchase decision, to see evidence of this sort of thing (large, unnecessary expenditure, conflict etc. etc.).
Further, if you buy an apartment in a small block, with only a small number of other owners, you are more likely to be alone (and outvoted) when it comes to important (and expensive) decisions.
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Old 18.07.2015, 10:09
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Re: Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

France wins hands down in this respect, it's totally regulated & actually getting anything extra done such as painting in the basement which was last done 30 years ago would be virtually impossible as nobody would want to pay.

I looked at buying in CH, but realised home ownership was a liability rather than an asset, just buying creates a tax liability. Spending unnecessary money will reduce that tax liability..... personally paying 2k in tax is better than wasting 10k on unnecessary repairs IMHO.
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Old 18.07.2015, 10:12
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Re: Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

Such things are paid for out of the communal kitty at our place, to which each contributes 1k per year.

Tom
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Old 18.07.2015, 10:25
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Re: Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

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First rule: Never, ever miss an annual meeting.
Absolutely. The improvements the OP mentions (with the possible exception of the lift improvement) clearly fall in the "luxury" category which means they have to be approved with an unanimous vote, unless the owners association's regulation says differently.
I.e. most likely the OP could have prevented this nonsense from happening if (s)he had attended the meeting.
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Old 18.07.2015, 10:40
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Re: Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

+1

All necessary repairs will be done from the "kitty", toward which every owner has to pay a certain amount per month.
Anything else is considered a "beauty repair" and requires a unanimous vote from all owners.

Works quite well where we live. Just make sure before you buy that you read the articles from the meetings of the owners association and as Meloncollie said, attend each and every meeting or ask another owner to attend on your behalf.
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Old 18.07.2015, 10:49
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Re: Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

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Welcome to the wonderful world of shared ownership.
First rule: Never, ever miss an annual meeting.
Anything can happen at an annual meeting - so make sure you protect your interests, and speak up against anything you do not want to happen.
I presume you get an agenda beforehand. Read it. Check anything you can. Listen around for opinions beforehand. (A shared laundry room has its advantages here!) Try to see pros and cons. Occasionally one can do a deal with a neighbour. OK. We vote for digging a dirty great (and very expensive) hole outisde your cellar to see where the water is coming from / you vote to have the pathway which we use and you don't redone as every time it rains we need waders to get along it. I want a new air dehumidifier in the laundry. You don't. But I pay the regular inspection of the lift which I don't use. It helps others (Swiss) to see that there are two sides to it.
As Meloncollie says, SPEAK UP. The capitals are deliberate. Be prepared to defend your cause. If a married couple, both go along. You may only have one vote but during the discussions there are two of you battling together.
Try to be logical. Check which things have to be unanimous and which need just a majority - and what % of the voters (or Wertquoten) the majority must be. (Percentage of the ownership of the property, including workrooms etc.)
The more reasonable you sound and the more you appear to know about it all, the more likely you are to sway the 'don't knows' who follow a herd instinct.
Have fun.
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Old 18.07.2015, 11:05
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Re: Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

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One old lady mentioned that she can't afford this "investment" and yet she voted for it... insane...
Maybe she was afraid of the confrontation with her dear neighbors or maybe she's with the "but it will look so much nicer" crowd...
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Old 18.07.2015, 11:34
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Re: Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

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I looked at buying in CH, but realised home ownership was a liability rather than an asset, just buying creates a tax liability. Spending unnecessary money will reduce that tax liability..... personally paying 2k in tax is better than wasting 10k on unnecessary repairs IMHO.
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Hi everyone,

Id really appreciate if someone could give me advice or share their experience on owning an apartment. Ill start here and then will seek legal advice.
I own an apartment in Switzerland, mortgage, the lot. We are a block of 14 flats and in May had our AGM. During this meeting it was unanomously decided to "invest" in improvement of the lift, front entrance, some other garden work, and front doors of each apartment (because they dont match in style). The total budgeted cost will be circa 500k, paid for by the owners. So no need to be a mathematitian here....
Do i have to go into further debt everytime the neighbours decide they are not "feeling" the doors or the colour of the building?
Do they expect me to magically produce 30k-50k on a yearly basis to pay for plants and front doors?
Has anyone been through this?
I have had a similar situation, albeit nowhere near the amounts involved in your case.
You should be able to submit the invoices for all of these improvements in the relevant year's taxation. The costs are tax-deductible. This is what I did. About 90% of the invoices I submitted for home improvements, necessary renovation etc. whether to the interior or to the building, were accepted as deductions.
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Old 18.07.2015, 11:39
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Re: Forced to change my front door so all doors match...

Other than wha't been said already (I holeheartedly agree, do prepare for AGM, form alliances, and DO SPEAK UP), I'd like to see a breakdown of the various item's costs.

While the new doors appear to be cosmetic, that doesn't necessarily apply as they may provide increased burglar-proof or better sound insulation, and even if not they're probably a (very) small part of the total. The big ticket item is likely to be the lift, which at age 40 (made that up) sorely needs replacing for safety reasons alone, and it has additionally been found to no longer meet current standards as it's too narrow, or whatever.

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They also will have done the mental math of factoring the improvements into the resale price, and will be counting on getting the money back when they sell in 30 years.
This may well be a rash assumption. Home ownership is very much an emotional thing (as exemplified by the bun fights), whenever that applies reason will have no chance.
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