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Old 30.11.2015, 00:49
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Some questions about Nebenkosten

Like the title says

Just arrived in CH and trying to make sense of the property market here. Just a few questions to make me understand a bit more:
  • How come that different apartments, have different costs under NK?
  • Why is heating usually included in NK, and electricity not?
  • I am abroad a lot. What happens if I use less, for instance, heating than what I have paid for? Do I get money back?
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Old 30.11.2015, 09:54
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Re: Some questions about Nebenkosten

Nebenkosten usually covers more-or-less the same stuff. They can have different charges though, such as a charge for maintaining an elevator if there is one. They can be different as they include estimates for charges such as heating, which is generally paid by the whole building and split by apartment depending on size.


Electricity is metered in each separate apartment so you can pay it separately.


If the whole building uses less heating than paid for, you will get a refund on your NK. If you use more, you'll receive a nice invoice for it. It doesn't matter how much you use individually (usually), but the building as a whole.


It's just an estimate and you can receive refunds or invoices for the NK.
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Old 30.11.2015, 10:08
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Re: Some questions about Nebenkosten

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It's just an estimate and you can receive refunds or invoices for the NK.
Some use a better more accurate estimate, other use a not so good or totally outdated estimate from when the oil was $10/barrel. Some may even intentionaly give a lower estimate so that it looks cheaper. But, in the end you have to pay for what was consumed and spent.
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Old 30.11.2015, 12:42
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Re: Some questions about Nebenkosten

Yes, the heating-bill is variable. It is also a notorious bone of contention in rented flats, precisely because there are various models of how the landlord tries to apportion the total heating costs of a season. Some time in Spring or Summer, a caclulation is made. Some landlords use "number of rooms", others use "number of persons" others use "number of square metres" and they divide out the building's heating costs according to that formula. Then, you just have to pay in whatever difference there is, or, in a good year, you get a refund.

Only very few buildings have metres on each radiators which allow a true "use per flat". Only in such a flat would you pay less if you used less. To landlords using the other systems of calcualtion, even if you were away most of the winter, with your radiators set only on the minimum (frost-prevention) level, you would still have to pay your share.

At a first glance, this may seem unfair. However, each flat's consumption affects the neighbours. If someone turns their heating up full, then naturally the adjacent flats will be, at least in part, warmed by that, too. Likewise, if someone turns their own heating down low, then they would not be co-heating for their neighbours, and therefore the neighbours would be more likely to [have to] turn the radiators up.
Add to that the fact that the flats on the ground floor are right on the cold earth (or cold cellar) and the flats on the top floor right under the snow. The flats in the middle are somewhat insulated, and may need to use less heating because they profit from their neighbours upstairs and downstairs.

In any case, this topic can be endlessly discussed, and it can be a really wise step, psychologically, just to set aside some hundreds of Francs, from the start, in case, in Summer, you are sent a bill.

Nebenkosten can also include non-variable cost such as the cleaner of the stair-well. Historically, many flats made it a duty that the tenants took turns to clean the stairs. This kept the costs down, and that was very important during and after the World War II, when many flats in Switzerland were built. As society has become wealthier and busier, tenants have become less willing to do this work, so that landlords are more inclined just to pay a cleaning-service and charge this to the tenants.


Electricity is metered per flat. Usually somewhere in the cellar, there is an electrical meter. When you move in, it is a good idea to check that the caretaker or the representative of the electricity company comes by to take the meter reading. That way, it is clear that - up till then - the amount used is the responsiblity of the tenant before you. From that reading, (which should be very close to the day you move in) you pay a monthly or quarterly (depending on the local rules) electricity bill. It is directly according to your own consumption, i.e. use more = pay more. However, electricity is absurdly cheap in Switzerland (though this, too, like everything else, can vary from area to area), so that for tenants of middle-class homes it is not usually felt to be a major expense, when set in relation to rental and other fixed expenses.
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Old 30.11.2015, 13:41
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Re: Some questions about Nebenkosten

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Some may even intentionaly give a lower estimate so that it looks cheaper. But, in the end you have to pay for what was consumed and spent.

Exactly what I'm dealing with...I got an apartment with a pretty good total cost and NK of 60CHF per month. Then I received a nice bill after 3 months for another 145CHF...Not a nice surprise. If NK looks too low, it just may well be.


Another point - sometimes NK includes the cable connection (cablecom TV & internet) which is around 30chf per month if you pay yourself. You can see this on the lease. If it's part of your NK and you don't use it, you can ask for it to be cancelled.
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Old 30.11.2015, 13:46
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Re: Some questions about Nebenkosten

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electricity is absurdly cheap in Switzerland
Hardly, but it is reasonably priced.

Tom
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Old 01.12.2015, 01:11
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Re: Some questions about Nebenkosten

It is well worth saving up each month a little extra to cover the Nebenkosten, Electricity, annual refuse collection charge etc.

For a 3 to 4 bedroom apartment you can expect at least Fr 300,-- per month for the above charges. If you are only paying Fr 80,-- NK with the rent, you can have a nasty surprise. Save the money each month and after a year of living there, you will have a better idea of the hidden charges.
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Old 01.12.2015, 02:11
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Re: Some questions about Nebenkosten

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Just arrived in CH and trying to make sense of the property market here.

There are many things about the property market here which are illogical.


If you look for a modern apartment which is well insulated and has an efficient heating system this could result in lower nebenkosten. An apartment with individual room controls will allow you to have more control over the temperature in your apartment.


As for the flat search, if you look a bit further outside the city of Zurich you will have a better chance at finding an apartment.
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Old 08.12.2015, 22:41
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Re: Some questions about Nebenkosten

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For a 3 to 4 bedroom apartment you can expect at least Fr 300,-- per month for the above charges. If you are only paying Fr 80,-- NK with the rent, you can have a nasty surprise.
That's exactly what happened to me. Heizung and NK was excluded from the rent in my building. When I signed the contract, the landlord told me Heizung and NK is about 100 CHF per month (for 3 room apartment), which was acceptable to me. Then I didn't get any bill from the landlord and i almost forgot about this. Towards the end of the second year, I received a huge bill of 4000 CHF, that was for less than two years.

So try to find out the real cost of Heizung and NK before you sign the contract. The number on your contract isn't always helpful here, because if the actual cost is higher than what you have paid, then you are obliged to pay the difference.
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Old 08.12.2015, 23:12
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Re: Some questions about Nebenkosten

Research on Nebenkosten pricing is very, very, difficult! Oil prices go up and down, and you as a tenant have no control, and indeed no idea, of when the fuel was purchased.

Ideally the apartment would have a 50'000 liter tank, and was only ever 70% full, so the landlord could top up with special offers during the year. But that is an ideal situation, and usually when the tank level is low enough to accommodate a fresh delivery, the landlord orders some fuel. Why should he care if it isn't a Summer month when fuel is cheaper? You will have to pay for the fuel, whatever the end price is.... If you have a choice, choose an apartment in a new building, as then at least the central heating boiler will be efficient..!
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