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Old 25.02.2017, 09:57
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Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

Hello all,
I would really appreciate any advice on a situation I have with my previous Swiss landlord. I have read a lot of threads on this forum, which have been really helpful but I couldn't find the answers to some of my questions.


We lived in the Zurich area and rented an apartment from October 2010 until August 2016 (5 years 11 months). When we moved into the apartment it had not been freshly painted and, from what we remember the landlord telling us, the previous tenant had lived in the apartment before us for 2 - 3 years.


The landlord told us that he planned to repaint the entire apartment before the next tenants moved in. The apartment was in good condition (only normal wear and tear) so didn't need to be repainted although a fresh coat of paint would be nice. In fact, some potential tenants would have been willing to rent the apartment "as is". We had painted 2 small walls, which the landlord had agreed to and had even given us the paint. As the landlord was planning to repaint the whole place he told us we did not have to paint them back to white. Also, it was never discussed that we would be liable for any portion of the painting cost.


Before handing back the keys and moving out we did a walk through of the apartment with the landlord. As he had not provided a Wohnungsabnahmeprotokoll when we moved into the apartment we did not have an official document to sign when we moved out. However, no issues or damages were identified and he was ok with the condition of the apartment.


At the end of January (5 months later) we received an invoice from the landlord. He included the invoice from the painter for the full cost of repainting the apartment (SFr. 5,500), which included painting the walls, windows, doors and radiators. Also, he gave us an invoice prepared by his painter for our portion "Reparaturn Von Mieterschaden" for SFr. 2,000 (36% of the total)! Obviously, we are very surprised and angry since there was no damage to repair. Currently, we are waiting for the landlord to explain how he calculated the 2nd invoice


Based on information on the Mieterverband website, I understand that the landlord has a limited time to inform us of any defects after the apartment is handed over (one week) otherwise he cannot make a claim. Is my understanding correct?
Also, I understand that paint has a life of 8 years so we should not be liable for any cost for painting the walls since it had not been painted for at least 8 years but what about windows, doors, radiators?


Many thanks in advance for your help and advice.
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Old 25.02.2017, 10:07
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

First question: Does he still have part of your deposit?
If no, life is easier. Simply tell him he missed the 8 days deadline to rise any issues and he can "blow into your shoes."
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Old 25.02.2017, 10:15
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

Sounds like your ex-landlord is just throwing it out there to see if you bite.
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Old 25.02.2017, 10:19
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

That is a ridiculous price for repainting. Must have been a mansion for it to cost that.
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Old 25.02.2017, 10:22
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

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"blow into your shoes."

only just got out of bed?
I suggest translating and explaining this to become a question in the naturalization-process.
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Old 25.02.2017, 10:37
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

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That is a ridiculous price for repainting. Must have been a mansion for it to cost that.
I totally agree!! As a accidental landlord, I'm learning that maintenance and repair costs are insane. No long ago I paid $85 for a guy to tighten the screws on a refrigerator handle. A two minute job at most.

*Renting my US house while I'm here and what a pain that is.
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Old 25.02.2017, 10:41
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

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That is a ridiculous price for repainting. Must have been a mansion for it to cost that.
I'm surprised at that comment from you. You've lived in Switzerland long enough to know that if they can get away with charging you an arm and a leg and possibly a kidney too for doing a job they will.
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Old 25.02.2017, 10:59
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

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I totally agree!! As a accidental landlord, I'm learning that maintenance and repair costs are insane. No long ago I paid $85 for a guy to tighten the screws on a refrigerator handle. A two minute job at most.

*Renting my US house while I'm here and what a pain that is.
Seriously, you call a guy to tighten the screws on a refrigerator handle? I think he should have charged you more. He had to get to your house and back (time, petrol, etc. etc.) probably even write you a bill .... and run after you to get his money .....

Depending on the size of OP's flat, the price to paint it including the window-frames, doors and radiators (which are a bitch to paint if they're the old type) the price is actually pretty good Remember, the poverty level according to you guys is 150K .... this painter is probably way below and has to get additional social-money

ASwissintheUS is right though, it's not OP's duty to pay that. As the landlord has to prove it was the tenant who dammaged things, see "Das Übernahmeprotokoll
– ein Muss? " in the linked document.
On the other hand I keep being surprised (which is probably just as dumb) how people move in and out of flats without protocols. Plus one has 10 days after moving in (same document, same paragraph under "Wichtig") to send in a "Mängelrüge" (notice of defects) which is also standard procedure here
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Old 25.02.2017, 11:29
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

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I'm surprised at that comment from you. You've lived in Switzerland long enough to know that if they can get away with charging you an arm and a leg and possibly a kidney too for doing a job they will.
We paid 500 francs for our previous one to be repainted when we moved out of our 3 floor, 3 bed + attic. OK it was a relative of Mr Bean but it was acceptable in these days of makeovers. Basic Swiss Dispersion all over. Doors & wooden window frames would need more care but a swift once over with the basic white is what most renters do when they move out. Can't possibly imagine what that painter must have done to merit the price the OP/landlord has been charged.
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Old 25.02.2017, 11:59
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

This is not a very clear advice, since i half-heard my friend complain about their handover misfortunes, but apparently, there is an ombudsman-like organisation, that protects tenants rights. I think you pay an annual fee to be its member (a very small amount), and, if you encounter any problems at the leaving stage, this organisation will help with any issues you may have with the landlord. The landlord will always try to pin any issues on the leaving tenant, can't blame them for trying...
Anyways, if you have rented the flat for over two consecutive years, certain wear and tear things cannot be passed over to the tenant. You can't expect the tenant to live in the flat for five years and not scratch the floor or not to wear off the front door mat.

I hope for your sake google.ch finds you precise info on this organization. I believe in my friend's instance, they swiftly registered with them and sought help straight away. And got the matter resolved efficiently. Landlord nil, tenant one.
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Old 25.02.2017, 12:31
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First question: Does he still have part of your deposit?
If no, life is easier. Simply tell him he missed the 8 days deadline to rise any issues and he can "blow into your shoes."

Unfortunately, he is still holding our deposit.

Thank you all for your very quick replies, much appreciated.


I look forward to telling my ex-landlord to "blow into your shoes."


And I agree, @Curley, that we should have insisted on the protocol. It's the 1st and last time we will go without one!

Last edited by 3Wishes; 25.02.2017 at 17:05. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 25.02.2017, 12:52
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

If he has your deposit, then it is a completely different ball game- and telling him to blow into his shoes ain't going to get your deposit back, is it!?

Too late for you, but for any newbies reading- never, ever rent in CH without becoming immediately a member or Asloca in FRench part, or Mietverband in German part. It is very cheap, and gives you access to professional experienced expertise and advice, + legal support - all along the way. You'll also get much better service from them if you are an existing member rather than just join after you have a problem. Just not worth being without.
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Old 25.02.2017, 13:24
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

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Thank you all for your very quick replies, much appreciated.


I look forward to telling my ex-landlord to "blow into my shoes."
Your shoes not his. It is an elegant, acceptable and non-profane way in Swiss German to tell: "Go and suck my dick" which is also known as a blow job. You could also say "Lick on my jacket" or "slide down my back".



But as he still has your deposit you should be a bit more diplomatic.

In general it is still the same, but this you say more something of the line:
We are sorry but after lengthy archive research, through-full inspection of our documents, and consultation of the law we must unfortunately deny your request. There were no issues raised at the time of the handover and we were not made aware of any other issues within good time as defined by Art. 267a Code of Obligations. Thus we concluded that any renovation necessary was solely due to wear and tear by normal usage over time which is the landlord responsibility according Art. 267 Code of Obligations.
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Last edited by aSwissInTheUS; 25.02.2017 at 13:50.
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Old 25.02.2017, 13:40
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

Thanks Odile and aSwissInTheUS, I agree. I wasn't planning to tell him to "blow in his shoes" but be more diplomatic about it
I am just happy to know that I have the right to dispute his invoice and that hopefully this will mitigate the amount of my deposit he can withhold.
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Old 25.02.2017, 15:18
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

The landlord can only hold your deposit for 12 months after you left. Then if he cannot bring costs/charges against you, the bank must then re-open the account, and let you withdraw your deposit in full.
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Old 25.02.2017, 16:29
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

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This is not a very clear advice, since i half-heard my friend complain about their handover misfortunes, but apparently, there is an ombudsman-like organisation, that protects tenants rights. I think you pay an annual fee to be its member (a very small amount), and, if you encounter any problems at the leaving stage, this organisation will help with any issues you may have with the landlord. The landlord will always try to pin any issues on the leaving tenant, can't blame them for trying...
Anyways, if you have rented the flat for over two consecutive years, certain wear and tear things cannot be passed over to the tenant. You can't expect the tenant to live in the flat for five years and not scratch the floor or not to wear off the front door mat.

I hope for your sake google.ch finds you precise info on this organization. I believe in my friend's instance, they swiftly registered with them and sought help straight away. And got the matter resolved efficiently. Landlord nil, tenant one.
The Ombudsmann is for any trouble/quarrels/differences one has with cantonal administration/authorities. It is free for the citizen.
What you probably mean is the "Mieterverband" which has been mantioned in numerous threads on EF = OP should have found it!
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Old 25.02.2017, 16:36
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

How does home insurance work for this sort of thing?
As I understand it if something breaks while you're still living then it is covered. But it no longer works if you've moved out and its about getting your deposit back?
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Old 25.02.2017, 17:36
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

The landlord is just bullying you, trying to see if you'd fall for it. He has to prove damages were done by you, very little chance without a protocol and such a late notice! Take an aggressive position: you owe him nothing, demand money back and threaten with Betreibung if you paid him directly and not into blocked bank account. If you paid into a bank, he can't easily take the money out if you object. Repainting of old wall is normal wear and tear and his responsibility.
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Old 26.02.2017, 11:11
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

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As he had not provided a Wohnungsabnahmeprotokoll when we moved into the apartment we did not have an official document to sign when we moved out.
As aSITUS already mentioned the objection should have been raised long ago, even the landlord's association (which obviously isn't on the renter's side) have on their site an article by one of their internal Swiss lawyers that says the landlord has to raise objections on apparent/obvious issues either during handover or within a short time, like 2-3 days, and he has to prove that the damage wasn't there already when you moved in.

So even if he had made the complaints in time it would still be up to him to prove his claim, i.e. that you caused damage xyz. Without an Übernahmeprotokoll (handover protocol) when you moved in this is close to impossible as it's his word against yours. Ergo nothing for you to pay for.

From the article mentined above:
"Auf Grund der allgemeinen Beweislastregel von Art. 8 ZGB trägt der Vermieter sowohl die Beweislast für den Schaden wie auch dafür, dass der Mangel beim Einzug des Mieters noch nicht bestanden hat und die Mängelrüge rechtzeitig erhoben wurde." This is confirmed, for instance, by paragraph 5 in this verdict by the federal court.
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Currently, we are waiting for the landlord to explain how he calculated the 2nd invoice
Don't. His calculation is irrelevant as he has no claim to begin with.
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Also, I understand that paint has a life of 8 years so we should not be liable for any cost for painting the walls since it had not been painted for at least 8 years but what about windows, doors, radiators?
It depends on the paint type, acrylic paint has 15 life years; usually "Dispersion" is used so you're probably right. But again, landlord doesn't have a case to begin with so this doesn't matter as well.

ETA. As for the deposit:
By default, twelve months after the contract has finished your deposit will be transferred back to you. This applies unless your landlord proves that either he has a valid claim or that there's an open case pending before the courts. So in theory it should be impossible for your landlord to get the deposit, nonetheless you may want to inform your bank that there's a dispute, that you refuse any claims by the landlord, and that the deposit must not be paid to him. If you do you want to use registered mail.

Last edited by Urs Max; 26.02.2017 at 11:26.
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Old 26.02.2017, 18:39
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Re: Invoice for damages received from landlord 5 months after leaving!

Look at the bright side, you only have 7 months to wait until you can request the release of your deposit from the bank (assuming the deposit is in a bank in a rental deposit account in your name as it should be). How much is the deposit?


There is no backup to suggest there was damage. You signed nothing. An invoice 5 months later is a bit of a joke.


If the landlord is holding the deposit personally that is an entirely different matter.
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