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Old 01.08.2015, 14:41
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Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

Hello! I'm a visiting PhD student at ETH of Romanian nationality.

I'm currently looking for accommodation from September and I've found a room in a 6-person WG. The person that currently lives there paid deposit worth of two months rent. After talking with the landlord on the phone, he asked me for a 3 months deposit (probably because of my nationality). Asking why 3 months instead of 2 as the current tenant, he said something along the lines of "needing to protect ourselves". I didn't stress on the issue since I understand it's legal to ask up to 3 months rent as deposit.

What is a bit dodgy is that he wants me to pay him the deposit in cash. Reading around the forums, people say that the deposit should be put into a rental surety account, in the name of the tenant, where money can be accessed by signature of both tenant and lessor (correct?).

He also said something about me not being able to move in the room immediately, but in about 2 weeks time. I can't remember what reason he gave.

The company is called HEV Zurich (Hauseigentümerverband Zürich).

Is this legit? I mention that I've seen the room personally and met with the tenant. I've only had contact with the landlord on the phone. The issue is somewhat urgent since the current tenant wants to leave and have someone else pay the rent for August.

Thank you very much for your advice!
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Old 01.08.2015, 15:17
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

No, deposit via bank only, unless you want to bitch and moan about losing your money here in 3 months time
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Old 01.08.2015, 15:38
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

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No, deposit via bank only, unless you want to bitch and moan about losing your money here in 3 months time
+1 for this, and I'll add you should NOT pay the entire month's rent for August if they won't let you move in until the month is half over. Make sure all this is in your written contract, that you fully understand before you sign.
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Old 01.08.2015, 17:41
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

Thank you very much to both of you. It was settled that I will talk to him personally on Monday. He seemed all right with a 2 month deposit instead of 3.

With regards to paying the deposit, is it ok transferring into whatever account he tells me or should I open one of those "rental surety" accounts?
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Old 01.08.2015, 18:03
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

After some reading around, the answer is that the money should be put in a locked account in the tenant's name (blog post). Cheers.

(sorry for double post, I couldn't find the edit button)
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Old 02.08.2015, 00:37
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

This smells of a scam!!! Do NOT pay any money!!

You write: The company is called HEV Zurich (Hauseigentümerverband Zürich).

The HEV is the association of house owners, they do NOT rent appartments!!




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Old 02.08.2015, 01:27
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

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This smells of a scam!!! Do NOT pay any money!!

You write: The company is called HEV Zurich (Hauseigentümerverband Zürich).

The HEV is the association of house owners, they do NOT rent appartments!!

The contract would be with a certain landlord that I guess is part of this HEV association. I don't know if he has a company/agency behind him. As part of this association, why wouldn't he be able to rent out the flat?

Here you can find the contract signed by the current tenant of that room: https://goo.gl/GoCdOs (I've removed names for privacy reasons). Unfortunately, I've just started learning German so I don't understand what it says.

It looks like a template that maybe the HEV members use? Does it look OK to you?

Thanks a lot for your input, it really helps.
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Old 02.08.2015, 08:48
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

The blank contract can be bought from any specialist shop, and is an original HEV legal contract. The names & addresses have to be completed on two copies, and both signed by both parties to the contract.

So far so good, but the HEV are only supplying the legal paper contract, they do NOT rent out the property.

On page 2 there are the details of the deposit arrangements. It states quite clearly that the deposit must be kept in a bank account in your name, not in cash.

Ask the landlord to open the special bank account in your name, and then you can deposit the money into the account, and show him the receipt. This is done after the contract has been signed, but before you take over the keys. The deposit can be held for up to one year after you leave, this is normal behaviour.

The above is the normal procedure. Do NOT pay anyone cash, there are too many criminals about, and the landlord will know this to be true.
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Old 02.08.2015, 15:37
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

Thanks, Sbrinz. I will do as you told me. I've read around the forum, and it's likely that he might ask me to transfer the money to his account, saying that he will put it in the special deposit account later.

I still don't understand if this is common practice (i.e. sign contract, then transfer money to the landlord's private account, then wait for him to transfer it in the surety account), as on the forum some people accepted sending the deposit to the private account.

Nevertheless, I don't think I'll accept transferring to a private account, because this guy sounded a bit of an arsehole from the beginning.
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Old 02.08.2015, 15:54
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

It is kind of common practice. But best practice is still to transfer directly into the special rentals account.

Tell him he should send the relevant forms to open a Mietzinskautionskonto, and you will transfer the money directly into the account. You know because of "needing to protect yourselves"

If he has any issue with that, you can also tell him the very same time, you are open to sign the contract at the bank location where he intends to open the account, bring the money in cash, and then pay it, directly on spot, in to the freshly opened account.

If he still has issues with that, he is a crook and totally untrustworthy.
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Old 02.08.2015, 16:16
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

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Thanks, Sbrinz. I will do as you told me. I've read around the forum, and it's likely that he might ask me to transfer the money to his account, saying that he will put it in the special deposit account later.

I still don't understand if this is common practice (i.e. sign contract, then transfer money to the landlord's private account, then wait for him to transfer it in the surety account), as on the forum some people accepted sending the deposit to the private account.

Nevertheless, I don't think I'll accept transferring to a private account, because this guy sounded a bit of an arsehole from the beginning.
Either you open a blocked account (Mietkautionskonto) on your own (in your name only) and hand over a copy of proof of opening said account containing the deposit to your prospective landlord,

or the landlord gives you three copies of a (still unsigned) contract for such a (blocked) account (which was opened by the landlord specifically for the purpose of your lease, and which is in your name only!), which you sign (three times, so that both the bank and the landlord have one copy and you have one copy), send all three signed copies back to the landlord and demand a copy signed by both him and the bank back.


When, and only when,
you have the bank contract copy which is signed by the bank, you and your landlord,
and a paying slip from the bank with the amount of the deposit on it,
you pay the amount directly into the blocked bank account.


Never pay in cash or pay to the landlord directly, never pay into a bank account which is not exclusively in your name and not blocked.
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Old 02.08.2015, 17:00
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

There is one catch, glowjupiter:

The account can only be opened once the rental contract is signed.
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Old 02.08.2015, 17:21
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

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There is one catch, glowjupiter:

The account can only be opened once the rental contract is signed.

Then simply take the "catch" aspect out of it and

[clarifying and reposting my statement from above]


Either you open a blocked account (Mietkautionskonto) on your own (in your name only) and hand over a copy of proof of opening said account containing the deposit to your prospective landlord,

or the landlord gives you three copies of a (still unsigned) contract for such a (blocked) account (which was opened by the landlord specifically for the purpose of your lease, and which is in your name only!), which you sign (three times, so that both the bank and the landlord have one copy and you have one copy), send all three signed copies back to the landlord and demand a copy signed by both him and the bank back.

In cases where the landlord/agency is kosher, they send along with those three unsigned copies of the bank account contract the two unsigned copies of the lease contract for the flat.
So, when you receive these five unsigned documents (two lease, three bank account), sign all five and only pay rent (to the landlord via his given payslip) and deposit (to the bank via its given payslip) after you have received back one copy of the lease which has now been signed by you and the landlord and one copy of the bank account contract which has been signed by you, the landlord and the bank.


Never pay in cash or pay to the landlord directly (neither rent nor deposit), and never pay the deposit into a bank account which is not exclusively in your name and not blocked.

If you are asked to pay anything before all involved parties (landlord, tenant and, in case of deposit, bank) have signed contracts and you have received copies of said contracts as well as payslips for the payments which go directly into the accounts I specified above, back away. Not only because this is fishy, but also because you should only pay when a basis for said payment (i.e. a contract signed by all parties involved) exists.
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Old 02.08.2015, 17:51
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

You may want to read the fineprint.

- only two cancel dates, that's quite unusual. For instance at this time your earliest cancel date (ignoring minimal duration, if any) would be March 2016. I'd demand 11 cancel dates, end of every month except december (no less than four dates)
- the backside mentions "Allgemeine Bedingungen zum Mietvertrag ...." (basically T&C) as integral part of the contract. You acknowledge receipt and consent by signing. I think under the new consumer law that part is void unless you're actually handed your own copy of them, though I could be wrong on that. Either way, to prevent problems you may want to demand a copy.

As has been said, pay directly into the safety deposit account that is in your name. Personally, I wouldn't give that much weight to that if I dealt with a company, as opposed to a private person (the name the receiving account is held under), but that's just me. Contrary to you I have reference points.
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Old 02.08.2015, 17:57
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

Just read the back side of the contract.

LOL. The contract it self stipulates the deposit has to be paid into the rental deposit account.

If landlord request deposit in cash, he acts against his own contract.
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Old 02.08.2015, 18:01
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

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- the backside mentions "Allgemeine Bedingungen zum Mietvertrag ...." (basically T&C) as integral part of the contract. You acknowledge receipt and consent by signing. I think under the new consumer law that part is void unless you're actually handed your own copy of them, though I could be wrong on that. Either way, to prevent problems you may want to demand a copy.
You are entitled to a copy. Demand it.
You do indeed acknowledge receipt by signing. If it is impossible for a "normal" person to understand the T&C though (meaning that they are misleading or overly complex), the opposite party cannot always say that you also consented, because to consent to something you have to know what you are consenting to.

If you're unsure what the T&C mean, know that you always have the choice to call the renter's assoc. (Mieterverband) and to ask them to help you understand the T&C.

As for earliest cancel date, that is allowed. If you're not sure you could pay until the earliest cancel date, do not sign.

As for more than 2 cancel dates a year, normally cancel dates are made according to what's normal in the region. Personally I would demand a shorter minimal stay (6 months max) and at least three possible notice dates a year after that, in March, June and September.
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Old 02.08.2015, 20:56
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

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You are entitled to a copy. Demand it.
You do indeed acknowledge receipt by signing. If it is impossible for a "normal" person to understand the T&C though (meaning that they are misleading or overly complex), the opposite party cannot always say that you also consented, because to consent to something you have to know what you are consenting to.

If you're unsure what the T&C mean, know that you always have the choice to call the renter's assoc. (Mieterverband) and to ask them to help you understand the T&C.

As for earliest cancel date, that is allowed. If you're not sure you could pay until the earliest cancel date, do not sign.

As for more than 2 cancel dates a year, normally cancel dates are made according to what's normal in the region. Personally I would demand a shorter minimal stay (6 months max) and at least three possible notice dates a year after that, in March, June and September.
All very well and good, but go in too tough and the Landlord is going to say "sod this for a game of soldiers, too tough, i'll take somebody else"

You have to weigh up what you need, what you can swallow and look at compromise.

Bit like marriage !
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Old 02.08.2015, 21:06
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

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All very well and good, but go in too tough and the Landlord is going to say "sod this for a game of soldiers, too tough, i'll take somebody else"

You have to weigh up what you need, what you can swallow and look at compromise.

Bit like marriage !
The tenant should also have the right to say "sod the landlord" if the landlord is making unusual demands.

Putting yourself at mercy of someone who you don't trust is a bad idea.

There are flats out there - take the time to find the right one for you rather than signing off on the first one you see and possibly ending up in an unwanted situation.
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Old 02.08.2015, 22:05
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

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The tenant should also have the right to say "sod the landlord" if the landlord is making unusual demands.

Putting yourself at mercy of someone who you don't trust is a bad idea.

There are flats out there - take the time to find the right one for you rather than signing off on the first one you see and possibly ending up in an unwanted situation.
Can't agree more with you, but it's still a sellers (Landlord) market out their, plenty of tenants, not many apartments.
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Old 02.08.2015, 22:44
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Re: Renting a Room (deposit in cash and other issues)

Thanks a lot guys for showing me the ropes. You all made valid points.

I've lived in the UK and frankly, things are somewhat simpler. I just paid the deposit to the landlord. (After googling, apparently I should've used the Tenancy Deposit Scheme - oops). There is little incentive not to return deposits to tenants (e.g. landlord fined). Of course, problems are everywhere...

I've seen a few flats and done some castings (with 40 other people...), but finding a room is becoming really time consuming (sth like a part-time job).

I'll try to find a German speaker to accompany me to tomorrow's meeting. On the phone, the landlord told me that I have to find a replacement in case I want to move out. This seems fair enough. A problem is that the replacement would have to accept the conditions of my contract (e.g. fulfill the minimum time for living in the room). I don't like this very much as people in flats I've viewed before seem to be laid back about the amount of time you need to live there. Obviously, they would like to find someone for a longer period of time, but if you don't get along then I understand it's OK to leave earlier.

I'll try to negotiate at least 3 cancellation dates. I always thought this is month by month...

IMO, the main takeaways are:
  • no money paid cash (except at the bank, with the landlord, when opening the deposit account)
  • no money paid until I have a signed lease with the landlord and signed contract between landlord, bank holding deposit account and myself
  • deposit account must be in my name and "blocked"
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