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Old 16.09.2016, 07:59
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Sublet Contract - urgent

Good day everyone. I have found a sublet in Geneva. The tenant is asking one year's rent in advance. In view of the amount involved I am concerned about the contract being legally correct and as per the usual practices; my french is poor, so I need some expert advise, but without paying a fortune. Any ideas would be highly appreciated.
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Old 16.09.2016, 08:02
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

My only advise is not to do it. One year rent in advance is ridiculous.
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Old 16.09.2016, 08:06
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

I agree, don't do it.
Has anyone heard of such a practice in Switzerland? It's totally new to me.
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Old 16.09.2016, 08:14
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

As far as I know from the Mieterverband, the tenant is only allowed to take 3 months in advance from you. So if I were you I wouldn't do it.
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Old 16.09.2016, 08:14
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

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Good day everyone. I have found a sublet in Geneva. The tenant is asking one year's rent in advance. In view of the amount involved I am concerned about the contract being legally correct and as per the usual practices; my french is poor, so I need some expert advise, but without paying a fortune. Any ideas would be highly appreciated.
Since you say your French is poor - are you sure he said one year, rather than one month?
And is this the deposit (i.e. you will still be expected to pay rent every month) or does he simply want all the rent for the first year in one lump sum (and then you wouldn't pay anything more for the rest of the year)?

One year is unusual, unreasonable, and if it is the rental deposit in fact illegal. Landlords (and in this context the person you sublet from is your landlord) cannot demand more than three months' rent as a deposit.

If it's just a lump sum for the first year's rent, to me that says that he is afraid you won't like the apartment and won't be willing to stay for a year, and so he feels it important to get his money from you up front. Since he knows the place better than you do (including possible details like leaky pipes, inadequate heating, or crazy neighbors) I would take this as a huge red flag and keep looking for somewhere else.
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Old 16.09.2016, 08:23
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

thanks everybody for the swift replies !
The tennant is going abroad for a year and for his peace of mind wants the rent to be paid in advance (so the amount is for rent, not for guarantee). I have negotiated a better monthly rate tan usual to give him this advance, and the money will be paid directly to the regie. So what I have to make sure is that I have the correct paperwork in place ! ...and that's where I am completely lost..
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Old 16.09.2016, 08:28
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

Best place to check it would be the tenants' association, Asloca. (You'll see lots of references on here to Mieterverband - that's the same organization, but in German.)

You'll probably have to take out membership first which is a couple of hundred francs - still way cheaper than retaining a lawyer.
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Old 16.09.2016, 08:31
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

In large cities there will be an office for housing, where people can get free advice, find the one in Geneva. Don't sign anything until someone has read through the paperwork. I agree with Mathnuts idea, join the ASLOCA!
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Old 16.09.2016, 08:44
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

Guys thanks again. I visited their website, everything is in French... Do you think if I call them i will be able to find an english-speaking person to assist me ?
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Old 16.09.2016, 08:47
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

Yes. All the counsellors are young lawyers, and would have learned English at school for many years, enough to understand you if you speak slowly and use simple words.

When are you going to learn French?
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Old 16.09.2016, 09:44
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

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Good day everyone. I have found a sublet in Geneva. The tenant is asking one year's rent in advance. In view of the amount involved I am concerned about the contract being legally correct and as per the usual practices; my french is poor, so I need some expert advise, but without paying a fortune. Any ideas would be highly appreciated.
I would not do it personally, but I understand the housing situation in Geneva to be horrific. So - I would somewhat understand a prospective tenant offering to pay several months at once as an incentive for the landlord to give them a flat, but not the other way around. IMO he is not entitled to more than he provides, and what guarantee do you have that you won't have to chase him down for repairs etc. (as he is your landlord in the eyes of the law, and not his landlord)? In a rental contract in CH, you have the possibility to put the rent in a locked account after duly warning the landlord if he doesn't keep the apartment in an intact, useable state. If you have paid the amount in full already, you won't have this leverage.

As far as I'm concerned a landlord is entitled to monthly rent, along with a deposit if he asks for it. The deposit is what can be used to rectify damages, not the monthly rent. If he wants to use the monthly rent as a security, that's not its purpose. The rent is what he gets to provide you with a usable place to live.


What he could do is put a minimum rental duration in the contract, e.g. say that you have to rent at least for six months. But you would still be able to get out of that contract under certain circumstances.


In short - I wouldn't do it. Contact ASLOCA.
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Old 16.09.2016, 09:55
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

This story of going abroad for a year sounds very familiar. Most of stories like this are scams. I'm not saying that this one is, but be very very vigilant.
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Old 16.09.2016, 10:08
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

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This story of going abroad for a year sounds very familiar. Most of stories like this are scams. I'm not saying that this one is, but be very very vigilant.
..indeed it does, thats why i want to be 100% certain i have all the necessary paperwork; they key fact though is that the rent is paid to the regie and not the tennant
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Old 16.09.2016, 10:20
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

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..indeed it does, thats why i want to be 100% certain i have all the necessary paperwork; they key fact though is that the rent is paid to the regie and not the tennant
Is the landlord aware of their tenant (your landlord) going abroad, the condition of paying a year's rent up front and have you seen the place you want to rent? If not, inform him of all these points and see what he says - directly to you, not via his tenant.

Last edited by glowjupiter; 16.09.2016 at 10:34.
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Old 16.09.2016, 10:31
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

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Is the landlord aware of their tenant (your landlord) going abroad, the condition of paying a year's rent up front and have you seen the place you want to rent?
Very good point, glowjupiter!

@Bonvie, if you have not yet seen the place, then "No, no, no, don't do it!"
The reason for this is that there are, indeed, scams in which dishonest people make the deal seem so appealing that they lure someone who is not even yet in the country into paying, and then... it turns out that there is no flat at all!

Please, just don't make any compromise that deviates from the law.
Yes, you have to be sure that the landlord's landlord knows what is being suggested by his tenant.

You've now heard lots and lots of warnings. They don't add up to "all sublets are bad", since some can work very well. But you have to have the paperwork, and you have to understand what you are signing.
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Old 16.09.2016, 10:26
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

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..indeed it does, thats why i want to be 100% certain i have all the necessary paperwork; they key fact though is that the rent is paid to the regie and not the tennant
No, that's not the key fact.
The key fact is that you should not sign any contract, never ever, without understanding exactly what it means. And you are not yet it this position.

The Mieterverband in the German-speaking cantons, and ASLOCA in the French-speaking cantons are non-profit organisations for protecting tenants and making sure they know their rights. This is exactly the place for you to start.

The annual membership of ASLOCA costs only Fr. 70
http://www.asloca.ch/inscription/GENEVE.pdf. Members receive free legal advice about all aspects of renting. It could be that for new members a certain extra charge is made; you should check this when you join.

For a sublet to be legal, YOU must have and understand:
- a proper written contract between you and the landlord, and this should include information about supplementary charges such as heating, electricity, water, internet, etc.
- written permission from your landlord's landlord, for the sublet (not for subletting in general, but specifically with regard to you and your contract with your landlord).

It is not compulsory, but a very good idea, if you can manage to look at the contract between your landlord and his landlord. This will show you whether the rent you will be charged is in the same range as the rent your landlord has to pay. It is illegal for a tenant to sublet in order to make a profit. Your landlord may charge only a little extra, for example to cover the use of his furniture and infrastructure.

If you are to pay the money to the landlord's landlord, then I would get this in writing, too, from that landlord's landlord.

Please, go to ASLOCA. There is probably no better service for this question, since such matters are their very area of expertise.
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Old 17.09.2016, 18:17
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

Perhaps you could pay 3 month intervals in advance, four times a year?
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Old 18.09.2016, 03:16
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

I'm in Geneva and I can assure you no one would pay one years rent in advance. Three months is the absolute maximum and even that is excessive, normally you pay one month on the last day of the month for the following month.

If you are wondering why you were "lucky" to get this, you were not, everyone else would have refused.

It also doesn't make sense that if you are subletting (have a contract with the existing tenant), that you would pay the rent to the Regie/owner.

As others have said take this as a red flag, I would assume there is something wrong with the apartment for the current tenant to request this. For example unreasonable neighbours who will make daily life difficult, excessive noise, infestations etc.

Once you have paid the rent you will have very little negotiating power to get anything fixed, and what happens if you decide for whatever reason you want to move.
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Old 18.09.2016, 07:59
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Re: Sublet Contract - urgent

If your renter wants "peace of mind" he could pay the full amount for one year to the regie... if you don't even know what he pays, let it go. He might make an unreasonable profit out of you.
I've seen that happening many times in our house. We have a cheap rent and great location and some people moved out and subletted those appts for years for a higher price until the régie found out.

The whole story screams SCAM.
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