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Old 13.12.2015, 19:11
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Getting out of fixed-term sublease early

I moved to Zurich from London end of October this year.

Background: I had flown in from London specially to view a number of properties in September when my current flatmate (lead tenant) showed me a beautiful flat. Based on the information given to me at the time I agreed to sublet it from her for 1650CHF. On this visit we agreed around approximate move in dates etc. No other restrictive conditions were mentioned. The flat was advertised fully inclusive.

After I was back in London having agreed to the flat (& having cancelled all my other viewings in Zurich), this girl writes to me saying her boyfriend will visit "sometimes" and she will visit him alternately. She also mentioned that electricity bills will be separate to the 50CHF extra charges already agreed. I had no choice at the time but to agree to these as I had already cancelled my other viewings.

After I moved in it emerged:
- Her boyfriend was spending pretty much 3-4 days here on average every week (usually arriving on Fridays and staying until Tuesday and one occassion more than 10 days.). They usually have full use of the living room and kitchen during these times.
- When I arrived in the flat I discovered a peculiarity about the flatmate. The kitchen was full of rotting fruit which she picks up from neighbour's trees and there were filthy fruit flies everywhere and there was pretty much no storage made available for me. After I challenged this she cleared some storage for me but the general hygiene of the place is questionable.
- There was also a clear breach of the contract as I had not agreed to share with a couple.
- There was no Wi-fi in the apartment a fact she had not disclosed or I would NOT have rented the apartment. Then there are extra costs for electricity!
- Also,we had verbally agreed on a month's deposit and she later asked for two months'.

In view of all the misrepresentation and the almost constant presence of her boyfriend I gave her a formal notice to leave the apartment in November. We verbally agreed I would need to find a replacement if I were to leave before the end of my notice period (2 months). She now refuses to acknowledge the notice period. Her boyfriend and her were extremely aggressive to me (shouting loudly at me) and insist I have to live here for a year or else find a replacement.

I'm extremely scared of living here.
Please could someone advise me if you think it's legal in a flatshare agreement to not honour a notice period (2 months) and insist on a minimum term of 1 year?
I am curious about the legality of a situation where she's basically forcing me to live in an atmosphere where I don't feel safe, there's an extra person here almost constantly and I am paying a disproportionately high rent. The last flatmate also left very quickly due to the boyfriend situation.

The contract literally says "1 year minimum. 2 months notice".

Please HELP?
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Old 13.12.2015, 19:14
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

Welcome to the forum.
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Old 13.12.2015, 19:32
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

Nothing very useful to add .. So .. Why not get a boyfriend / Girlfriend and have them stay 3-4 nights per week and start a collection of dead animals you may find in the street..

If they don't like it they can move.

But the obvious question - Agency involved? Anything actually legally binding?
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Old 13.12.2015, 19:33
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

Who owns the flat?
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Old 13.12.2015, 19:36
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

Did you agree to a sub-let, or a flat share?

Did you sign a contract for either of the above?
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Old 13.12.2015, 20:03
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Hey, thanks for the quick response! Yes, rather consciously went for a sublet/flatshare rather than taking on a full property (which I can easily afford but obviously being new to Zurich wasn't getting anywhere with agencies). I signed a standard sublet contract which says:
"1 year minimum, 2 months notice".

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Who owns the flat?
Cheers for quick response! A private landlord.

Last edited by Ace1; 14.12.2015 at 07:59. Reason: Merging successive posts
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Old 13.12.2015, 20:05
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

You've rented it for a minimum of 1 year with a 2 months' notice period if you want to cancel after that year. So if the lease "ends" at the end of October next year then you must give notice by the end of August to be able to move out without having to find a replacement tenant. It doesn't mean you can give 2 months' notice before the end of the year, sorry. Your other choice is to move out anyway, but you'll still owe the outstanding months' rent monies until October next year if you don't find a replacement tenant. Whether they would chase you for it, eventually issuing a debtor's notice, is anyone's guess.

I suggest you immediately join the local renters' association and see what they can advise.
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Old 13.12.2015, 20:06
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

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Nothing very useful to add .. So .. Why not get a boyfriend / Girlfriend and have them stay 3-4 nights per week and start a collection of dead animals you may find in the street..

If they don't like it they can move.

But the obvious question - Agency involved? Anything actually legally binding?
There is a sublet contract which I assume would be binding. The thing is that easiest route is to find her a replacement. But I really don't want to lie to another person like I was lied to and I really don't think anyone would agree to an almost 1800CHF flatshare with a couple! (You can easily have full flats for that money).
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Old 13.12.2015, 20:10
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

Do go to the Mieterschutzverband, bring your contract but also anything in writing on the conditions. Ask them if it would make sense to contact the landlord, seems to me - unless you live in Züriberg - that you pay the rent on your own?
Good luck!
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Old 13.12.2015, 20:13
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

So what's the problem?

Tom
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Old 13.12.2015, 20:16
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

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I had flown in from London specially to view a number of properties in September when my current flatmate (lead tenant) showed me a beautiful flat. Based on the information given to me at the time I agreed to sublet it from her for 1650CHF.
After I was back in London having agreed to the flat (& having cancelled all my other viewings in Zurich), this girl writes to me saying her boyfriend will visit "sometimes" and she will visit him alternately.
Lead tenant = this girl = your room mate? Because it sort of sounds like you're speaking about two different people.

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There was also a clear breach of the contract as I had not agreed to share with a couple.
There was no Wi-fi in the apartment a fact she had not disclosed or I would NOT have rented the apartment.
Hmm the problem here is that the boyfriend doesn't (legally) count as a tenant. He's just her guest. So you can't hold it against her that you never agreed to flat share with a couple :/

As for the internet... I think you should have asked about that and not just assume she would provide internet.
I know that with most flat shares everyone shares the same internet, but I've also heard of some places where everyone has their own router for privacy/safety/cost/speed related reasons.

But what's done is done and I also think you should get out of that place quickly.

Setting a minimum duration of stay is possible, but you (the subtenant) can still leave within the notice period or earlier if you find a new tenant (Art. 264 OR) who is willing to take over your lease.

Last edited by keksli; 13.12.2015 at 20:32.
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Old 13.12.2015, 20:34
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

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Hey, thanks for the quick response! Yes, rather consciously went for a sublet/flatshare rather than taking on a full property (which I can easily afford but obviously being new to Zurich wasn't getting anywhere with agencies). I signed a standard sublet contract which says:
"1 year minimum, 2 months notice".
A sub-let and a flat share are two different things.

A sub-let, you rent the property from a tenant (who has rented it from the owner), but you still have the place to yourself.

A flat-share, well self explanatory.

If you signed up for a flat share, there is not much you can do. Apart from... as your flat mate is responsible for the rent... you could always do a runner when they are not around, forfeit your deposit... I'm not sure they could do much if they couldn't find you!
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Old 13.12.2015, 20:44
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

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Lead tenant = this girl = your room mate? Because it sort of sounds like you're speaking about two different people.
Apologies for confusion. Yes, I am in a flatshare and live with the girl who has the overall contract with the landlord. That's the person I am talking about. You're right, it's not a sublet. I think she just uses a "sublet contract" to rent out part of the flat to me (and charges me way more than 60% of the overall rent she pays).
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Old 13.12.2015, 20:44
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

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but you (the subtenant) can still leave within the notice period or earlier if you find a new tenant (Art. 264 OR) who is willing to take over your lease.
Note that the rules for suitability are far stricter for subtenants living in a tenant's place (if the tenant lives in the same flat as the subtenant) than they are for tenants living in a landlord's place (landlord living somewhere else).
In the case of the normal tenant-landlord relationship, a new tenant just has to be suitable in terms of being able to pay, accepting to take over the previous tenant's contract down to the T, and generally fitting into the general building's tenant demographics.

In the case of the tenant-subtenant (live-in) arrangement however, the new proposed subtenant can be refused by the tenant if the subtenant doesn't fit in the existing group of flatmates (chemistry isn't right), as the tenant and the subtenant will be living together in close quarters, as opposed to the landlord and the tenant described in the paragraph above. But refusal to accept several proposed subtenants giving only the reason that the new subtenant won't fit in the group doesn't fly.

MV Source (German)

So it's not as easy to find a followup subtenant if the tenant you're subletting from is living in the same flat as it is to find a followup tenant if you're renting from a landlord (who doesn't live in your place).

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Apologies for confusion. Yes, I am in a flatshare and live with the girl who has the overall contract with the landlord. That's the person I am talking about. You're right, it's not a sublet. I think she just uses a "sublet contract" to rent out part of the flat to me (and charges me way more than 60% of the overall rent she pays).
If she is living in her flat and renting part of it to you (and you pay her rather than the landlord, and you have signed a contract with her rather than the landlord), it is a sublet.
If you and her are both paying rent to the landlord, it is a regular lease. In that case, both of you would have to sign the lease with the landlord, and both of you could be held liable by the landlord in case of damages.

If you have a contract with her (written or verbal, written is highly recommended) with her renting to you, you're subletting from her and she's responsible for everything (liable for all damages). She then charges you rent, normally basing it on the size ratio of your rooms. She's not allowed to charge you so much to make a profit, but she can charge you 10% extra due to the fact that she's the only one the landlord can hold liable for damages you cause to the flat, and she could charge you 20% extra if the room she's subletting is furnished.

Last edited by glowjupiter; 13.12.2015 at 20:58. Reason: Added quote and answer
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Old 14.12.2015, 02:31
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

@Londontozurich

Might as well discuss the elephant in the room. Were you ever this flatmate's boyfriend before you made this agreement, or were you hoping to BECOME her boyfriend afterwards? If so, might that be the real reason you are now having second thoughts about moving with her to Zurich?
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Old 14.12.2015, 05:12
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

As far as getting out of the agreement early, I'm afraid, but there's not much you can do. You signed for at least a year, and if you don't want to stay that long, you have to find someone to take your part of the lease.

As far as the boyfriend situation is concerned - well, I would be annoyed too, but at the end of the day there is no law that prevents her from having her bf over whenever she wants. If and how long visitors should stick around really is - at best - based on an agreement of whichever people share a flat. I know people who indeed share a flat permanently as a couple plus an additional person and I know others who are much stricter and don't have guests over if they share their apartment with someone. You may be annoyed by the situation, but it doesn't matter much as others probably wouldn't mind at all.

The extra cost for electricity is not unusual either. Yes she should have mentioned it, but there are always a million hidden extra costs in Switzerland and electricity is one of them - it's quite normal to have only the very basic included in the total rent (even if it says incl NK/utilities), yet be charged extra if you use more - which most do.

It is generally ok to charge more - or less - than 50% of the rent if e.g. your room is much larger - or smaller - than hers. Without seeing the apartment, it's not really possible to say if what she charges you is ok or not.

So post an ad on wgzimmer.ch and hope you find a replacement tenant soon!
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Old 14.12.2015, 08:44
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

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@Londontozurich

Might as well discuss the elephant in the room. Were you ever this flatmate's boyfriend before you made this agreement, or were you hoping to BECOME her boyfriend afterwards? If so, might that be the real reason you are now having second thoughts about moving with her to Zurich?
Ewwwwww! Over my dead body! I pity the man dating such a nasty person! I'm a girl thank god & no, have no desire to turn gay anytime soon
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Old 14.12.2015, 09:41
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

I would suggest writing down a list of the problems you have with the current arrangement, and seeing what you are prepared to compromise on. Things like basic hygiene and use of shared spaces etc are typical problems of flat-sharing, and either need to be ignored, or an agreement found between the different paople living together.

Certainly a year is a long time to be somewhere you feel unhappy, but you did make a few errors in agreeing to a year's minimum...

As for your current complaints, what bothers you may not bother another person, or maybe you can point out to the main tenant that their behaviour makes it difficult to imagine that someone else would be happy flat-sharing with them, and if she wants the boyfriend to move in, then he should take over your lease.

There are a couple of potential outs...
1. Make yourself so difficult to live with that she asks you to leave sooner.
2. Find another person to take over the lease.
3. Find yourself an abnoxious boyfriend and invite him around regularly.
4. Check that she actually has permission to sub-let / flatshare from the landlord, if not, you might be off the hook.
5. See if you can wiggle out of it on the basis that you can't afford the rent...or that she's charging too much.
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Old 14.12.2015, 09:53
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

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I would suggest writing down a list of the problems you have with the current arrangement, and seeing what you are prepared to compromise on. Things like basic hygiene and use of shared spaces etc are typical problems of flat-sharing, and either need to be ignored, or an agreement found between the different paople living together.

Certainly a year is a long time to be somewhere you feel unhappy, but you did make a few errors in agreeing to a year's minimum...

As for your current complaints, what bothers you may not bother another person, or maybe you can point out to the main tenant that their behaviour makes it difficult to imagine that someone else would be happy flat-sharing with them, and if she wants the boyfriend to move in, then he should take over your lease.

There are a couple of potential outs...
1. Make yourself so difficult to live with that she asks you to leave sooner.
2. Find another person to take over the lease.
3. Find yourself an abnoxious boyfriend and invite him around regularly.
4. Check that she actually has permission to sub-let / flatshare from the landlord, if not, you might be off the hook.
5. See if you can wiggle out of it on the basis that you can't afford the rent...or that she's charging too much.


Thank you Swisspea for such a detailed and helpful response. For some reason I can't yet thank people for their replies. Yes, I think she gets it and is looking for someone herself as well instead of sitting back and relying on me to pretty much subsidise her living in that apartment.


You are right in saying it might work for other people. It would have for me as well if I knew what I was getting into. The 1 year minimum was never mentioned nor agreed to. I was lied to on several other critical points as well so it doesn't feel like an informed choice was made. e.g. I would never in my right mind agree to a minimum tenure with no break clause. Perhaps in a property all to myself, maybe, but in a flatshare there are so many unknown human variables that it's stupid to suggest or do that.


On a wider Switzerland question - why are we all not doing anything about these "hidden costs" everybody seems to have resigned to?
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Old 14.12.2015, 09:55
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Re: Flatshare Agreement: Last resort before I run back to London. HELP!

The one year minimum would be on your lease agreement (written) otherwise, if there is no written agreement where this is stated, then there are rules about exit dates etc which are clearly regulated...

One year minimum is not normal for Zurich, although it may be quite common... normal is having a three month notice before two standard exit dates, which are clearly regulated...
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