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Old 26.10.2015, 20:07
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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!
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Old 26.10.2015, 20:21
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Re: Extra fees on rental apartment

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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.

Last edited by glowjupiter; 26.10.2015 at 20:33.
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Old 26.10.2015, 20:34
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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
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Old 26.10.2015, 20:45
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Re: Extra fees on rental apartment

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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
The ASLOCA advisor in the Neuchatel office speaks very good English.
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Old 26.10.2015, 20:48
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Re: Extra fees on rental apartment

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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
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Old 26.10.2015, 20:56
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Re: Extra fees on rental apartment

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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!
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from what I am gathering ASLOCA membership is a must have in this country
Well, not if you aren't renting!
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Old 06.11.2015, 09:19
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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
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Old 06.11.2015, 09:43
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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.
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Old 06.11.2015, 10:16
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Re: Extra fees on rental apartment

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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.
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Old 06.11.2015, 17:51
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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?
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Old 06.11.2015, 18:05
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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
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Old 06.11.2015, 18:38
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Re: Extra fees on rental apartment

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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.
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Old 12.11.2015, 21:57
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Re: Extra fees on rental apartment

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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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