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Enohzee 26.10.2015 20:07

Extra fees on rental apartment
 
Hey all,

I'm looking for a bit of advice regarding my Gerance and the charges included in my rental payment.

I've been renting a studio since July (moved around 5th July) and I pay 895.- in total, of which 60.- is charges for heating, water, etc.

Today I recieved a letter from the Gerance stating that I owe them around 150.- for July-September (only 3 months!) in extra charges that went over the 60.- that I pay each month.

I have 1 radiator in my flat, live alone and it seems very strange that I should have to pay almost double the amount stated in the rent, which I imagine will only increase during winter. It seems that they massively underestimated the charges.

Does anybody know if this is normal, correct, or if there's anything I can do about it?

Thanks for any help!

Guest 26.10.2015 20:21

Re: Extra fees on rental apartment
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Enohzee (Post 2473308)
Hey all,

I'm looking for a bit of advice regarding my Gerance and the charges included in my rental payment.

I've been renting a studio since July (moved around 5th July) and I pay 895.- in total, of which 60.- is charges for heating, water, etc.

Today I recieved a letter from the Gerance stating that I owe them around 150.- for July-September (only 3 months!) in extra charges that went over the 60.- that I pay each month.

I have 1 radiator in my flat, live alone and it seems very strange that I should have to pay almost double the amount stated in the rent, which I imagine will only increase during winter. It seems that they massively underestimated the charges.

Does anybody know if this is normal, correct, or if there's anything I can do about it?

Thanks for any help!

I'm almost certain that your rental contract as well as the document received today state what you're paying/what you owe money for.

Rent is split into net rent and utilities.
Net rent is a fixed amount per month.
Utilities are also a fixed amount per month. They are to be paid either "pauschal" (a fixed amount/lump sum on top of which the landlord cannot charge extra even if the costs generated during the year for utilities are higher than the amount charged to the tenant, and the tenant cannot demand money back even if the costs incurred by the landlord are lower than estimated) or "akonto" (on account). With akonto payments, once a year the landlord compares the amounts charged to the tenants for utilities to the amount he spent on utilities. If he spent less than he charged you, he owes you money back. If he spent more than he charged you, you owe him money.

Your charge of 150.- looks like he is charging on account/akonto for utilities and that he underestimated the amount necessary to pay for costs incurred from July to September.

Check your rental contract to see what he listed under "utilities chargeable to tenant" and compare that to the bill you received today. If he is charging for something which isn't in your contract, you can go to the renter's arbitration office and contest the bill.
E.g. if he charges for yearly garbage disposal, but that isn't listed in the lease, you can contest it. But if he charges for heating according to the lease and it just so happens that heating costs were higher than he expected, you will have to pay.

Note that there are many different costs included in utilities, not just heating. You have the right to ask for copies of proof of cost incurred by your landlord for your building's utilities, and can also ask him how he splits cost. Cost to the individual tenant will differ depending if the landlord charges per number of inhabited sq/m, per number of people living in a flat or if he bases his charges on the tenant's individual, actual consumption.

Are you a member of ASLOCA? If not, I recommend you apply for membership pronto and bring your case to them. They might be able to help. You won't have to use them to go to arbitration, but you can and I recommend doing so.

Enohzee 26.10.2015 20:34

Re: Extra fees on rental apartment
 
Quote:

I'm almost certain that your rental contract as well as the document received today state what you're paying/what you owe money for.

Rent is split into net rent and utilities.
Net rent is a fixed amount per month.
Utilities are also a fixed amount per month. They are to be paid either "pauschal" (a fixed amount/lump sum on top of which the landlord cannot charge extra even if the costs generated during the year for utilities are higher than the amount charged to the tenant, and the tenant cannot demand money back even if the costs incurred by the landlord are lower than estimated) or "akonto" (on account). With akonto payments, once a year the landlord compares the amounts charged to the tenants for utilities to the amount he spent on utilities. If he spent less than he charged you, he owes you money back. If he spent more than he charged you, you owe him money.

Your charge of 150.- looks like he is charging on account/akonto for utilities and that he underestimated the amount necessary to pay for costs incurred from July September.

Check your rental contract to see what he listed under "utilities chargeable to tenant" and compare that to the bill you received today. If he is charging for something which isn't in your contract, you can go to the renter's arbitration office and contest the bill.
E.g. if he charges for yearly garbage disposal, but that isn't listed in the lease, you can contest it. But if he charges for heating according to the lease and it just so happens that heating costs were higher than he expected, you will have to pay.

Note that there are many different costs included in utilities, not just heating. You have the right to ask for copies of proof of cost incurred by your landlord for your building's utilities, and can also ask him how he splits cost. Cost to the individual tenant will differ depending if the landlord charges per number of inhabited sq/m, per number of people living in a flat or if he bases his charges on the tenant's individual, actual consumption.

Are you a member of ASLOCA? If not, I recommend you apply for membership pronto and bring your case to them. They might be able to help. You won't have to use them to go to arbitration, but you can and I recommend doing so.
Thanks for your quick reply.

The charge in the latest letter (with the bill) is split into several seperate charges, e.g. heating, use of lift, water consumption, communal electricity, etc. These are all covered by my rental charges and there doesn't seem to be anything unusual. The heating cost is quite large though (170CHF for the 3 months) and is almost the total amount I've paid in charges so far. Seems strange because I have 1 radiator and it hasn't been on for most of that time (it was boiling in August!).

Joining ASLOCA is definitely a good idea. I'll do that.

These things are such a pain in the arse when you don't speak the local language properly :msnshock:

Belgianmum 26.10.2015 20:45

Re: Extra fees on rental apartment
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Enohzee (Post 2473320)

Joining ASLOCA is definitely a good idea. I'll do that.

These things are such a pain in the arse when you don't speak the local language properly :msnshock:

The ASLOCA advisor in the Neuchatel office speaks very good English.

BLP 26.10.2015 20:48

Re: Extra fees on rental apartment
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Belgianmum (Post 2473329)
The ASLOCA advisor in the Neuchatel office speaks very good English.

from what I am gathering ASLOCA membership is a must have in this country

plumtree 26.10.2015 20:56

Re: Extra fees on rental apartment
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Enohzee (Post 2473320)
Seems strange because I have 1 radiator and it hasn't been on for most of that time (it was boiling in August!).

But hot water consumption is also charged for in that figure!
Quote:

Originally Posted by BLP (Post 2473333)
from what I am gathering ASLOCA membership is a must have in this country

Well, not if you aren't renting!

Enohzee 06.11.2015 09:19

Re: Extra fees on rental apartment
 
I had an E-mail back from the Gerance and they basically just said....the fees are estimated and are worked out by taking the whole building then splitting for each apartment using a coefficient for volume.


I guess I just have to live with it. Lesson learnt though - if charges look 'too cheap' then they probably are :P

marischi 06.11.2015 09:43

Re: Extra fees on rental apartment
 
Many landlords do a low estimate to make the rent seem cheaper and then charge the real amount later, as it most likely happened to you. I once got a bill of 870.- for additional costs for only 9 month. I went to Mieterverband (Asloca) and they advised me to contest it because I had paid all additional costs already and my landlord owed me 100.-!

Landlord tried to bully me on the phone but I calmly told him we could also see each other at the justice of peace's office - as I had been advised at the Mieterverband. After that, he backed off. I asked other tenants - he did this as a routine and and nobody had ever contested it...

Just because the régie tells you all is well: Sometimes it isn't.

Guest 06.11.2015 10:16

Re: Extra fees on rental apartment
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BLP (Post 2473333)
from what I am gathering ASLOCA membership is a must have in this country

This, again and again. It has been said so many times on EF- but with many newcomers it is worth repeating. It is cheap and easy to join Asloca and could save you lots of money, and even better perhaps hassle and stress. Just not worth being without. They do prioritise those who are long-term members rather thann those who just join when they have an urgent problem.

doropfiz 06.11.2015 17:51

Re: Extra fees on rental apartment
 
Asloca in the French-speaking areas.
http://www.asloca.ch/

Mieter- und Mieterinnenverband in the German-speaking areas.
https://www.mieterverband.ch/

and in Ticino?

marischi 06.11.2015 18:05

Re: Extra fees on rental apartment
 
Help for tenants in Ticino: La sezione ticinese del Mieterverband/ASLOCA e la ASI: http://www.asi-infoalloggio.ch

moggy 06.11.2015 18:38

Re: Extra fees on rental apartment
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by plumtree (Post 2473342)
But hot water consumption is also charged for in that figure!

Also lighting in common areas, though if on timers, then that would be a low figure IMO.

plumtree 12.11.2015 21:57

Re: Extra fees on rental apartment
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by moggy (Post 2480632)
Also lighting in common areas, though if on timers, then that would be a low figure IMO.

True! Also the lift (if there is one), as it runs of the common electricity meter too!


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