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Old 06.07.2018, 00:51
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Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

Hello,

unfortunately a week after living in a new apartment I feel that it may be a good idea to move somewhere else. The problem is that the landlord (one of the big companies here in ZH) doesn't want to renovate wooden walls in the apartment after smoking (!) couple lived there for 24 (!) years, which are about 30-40% of the flat surface. This gives the apt. a pretty disctinct smell, which I can't stand. I somehow did not notice it, or did not pay attention to it during the initial viewing.

Initially I assumed that they will paint everything and this will solve the smell issue, but they only painted stone walls with white paint, although at Wohnungsubergabe I explicitly asked to paint also the wood, for which they replied that they did not plan that, but they will see what can be done. After that I reminded them per email that I want the wood be painted, which was ignored. Now I moved in on 1st of July and the apartment smells with a mix of nicotine and paint, with paint smell getting weaker every day and nicotine getting stronger.

Otherwise the apt is really nice, even a sort of dream, I'd say (kitchen and bathroom are a bit old but its okay), located at the border of Kreis 1/4, next to Sihl, with a fantastic view over Zurich, even with a bit of Alps, top floor, two huge balconies, and it is also reasonably priced (less than 2k for 60sqm+2x10sqm balconies). But I have asthma, so I really cannot tolerate that smoke smell.

Basically I have 4 options now:

a) try to push the landlord to actually paint the wooden walls. The drawback is that I am not sure if there is a legal way to force them, and secondly, whether some other parts, like floor laminate or window plastic, maybe also absorbed this smoke and painting wooden walls would only partly solve the issue.

b) paint everything myself, or hire someone to paint it... that will be pricey, and why the heck should I do it myself anyway? And also see previous point...

c) try to cancel the apt, ideally to avoid 3month frist, justifying that they are obviously not sticking to what they are obliged to do (or are they?). Is it even possible in this case? Is there any sort of probation period for renting a flat for such cases or am I now completely screwed?

d) accept it and suffer, or try to use some half-measures to reduce the smell (coffee, HEPA-filter etc.). This I would like to avoid.


P.S. I already contacted Mietverband, but also wanted to have your opinion here.

P.P.S. I don't have much furniture and my new fancy Pfister stuff will only come at the end of August, so I can actually afford temporarily moving back to any WG, while searching for another flat from August/September or so...

So, what do you think?
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Old 06.07.2018, 03:14
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

E. find a nachmieter.

As for answers.

A. You accepted the apartment as is, and they never said they would paint it.

C. See A.

B. and D. your choice.
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Old 06.07.2018, 04:49
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

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A. You accepted the apartment as is, and they never said they would paint it.
You could argue it was a "versteckte Mangel", masked by the fresh paint smell, so that gives some extra time to complain. You should tell the landlord asap to fix it by registered mail; email is routinely ignored whenever a swiss business owes you something and useless for court evidence. Give a reasonable deadline and threaten with Mietzinshinterlegung. I'm sure MV will have sample letters for you and explain the proper protocol for behaving here
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Old 06.07.2018, 06:30
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

My hunch is that the landlord with most likely not de-smoke-treat the flat. The landlord doesn't really have any strong motivation to do so nor, as I see it, any obligation to do so, since you agreed to renting the flat, having viewed it, and with no promise that the landlord would paint (on the contrary) the wood.

I'm sorry for you that you didn't notice that smell during the viewing.

If I were in your shoes, I'd make two lists.
List 1) what it would be likely to cost me (in time, money, communication, energy, frustration, etc.) to try to "force" the landlord to treat the wood. Perhaps ivank has a point. Does the Mieterverband recommend something along those lines?

List 2) the cost of finding a replacement tenant (if you want "out" soon), or of giving notice at the first possible date.

If the Mieterverband indiciates you have a strong case, and they can show you how to argue for it, then please teach us their advice. Thanks. It might, however, even if you are in the right, be less costly, overall, to simply move on.
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Old 06.07.2018, 08:20
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

Have you tried washing the walls? When I used to deal in antiques and I bought something from a smoker's home, I would have to scrub it with an ammonia and water solution. The gunk that comes off is frightening.


Some people use TSP, some use vinegar and water and some use regular old glass cleaner, but it does come off. In the case of furniture, the piece may be too far gone after cleaning and you just have to refinish the whole thing, but for your walls, you should be alright.


Test an inconspicuous spot with a rag and some Windex. If brown gook starts running off, you will know you are on the right track and the walls can be cleaned.
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Old 06.07.2018, 09:31
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

There are any number of "Reinigungs Instituten" around. get one of choice to give you an assessment of work and results and estimate of costs, then see what you can negotiate with the landlord. If the apartment is otherwise what you want it is certainly worth the effort.
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Old 06.07.2018, 09:41
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

Wooden walls?

Tom
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Old 06.07.2018, 11:12
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

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Wooden walls?

Tom



Plenty here with pine panneling, think "Chalet" style maybe
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Old 06.07.2018, 11:18
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

painting the walls will not get rid of the smell, if they already painted over some then you're pretty screwed, you need to scrub all that crap off before painting, just painting over masks it for a very short while but it will soon start to come back to the top.
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Old 06.07.2018, 11:25
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

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Plenty here with pine panneling, think "Chalet" style maybe
But nobody paints over those!

Tom
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Old 06.07.2018, 11:33
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

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But nobody paints over those!

Tom



A lot of people do to get away from the "traditional" look and into something lighter, more airy.


It works very well indeed.


You change potential buyers from the 50% who want traditional to te 50% who want modern
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Old 06.07.2018, 11:54
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

I could be wrong but I believe you have one month to claim defects "Mangel" which you were not aware before and wasn't written on the protocol at the checkup routine.

Get Mieterverband membership, according to them, you could claim a 12% rent reduction while the problem persists:

https://www.mieterverband.ch/dam/jcr...entscheide.pdf

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...but I doubt it
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Old 06.07.2018, 14:38
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

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Have you tried washing the walls? When I used to deal in antiques and I bought something from a smoker's home, I would have to scrub it with an ammonia and water solution. The gunk that comes off is frightening.
Would sanding and re-finishing be a bit of a shortcut instead of washing? Maybe OP could convince the landlord to do that instead of painting? Or at least pay for part of either washing/sanding/finishing or painting?

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There are any number of "Reinigungs Instituten" around. get one of choice to give you an assessment of work and results and estimate of costs, then see what you can negotiate with the landlord. If the apartment is otherwise what you want it is certainly worth the effort.
FYI to the OP - Many companies that come out to give you a quote will bill you for their time. Keep that in mind when you're running the numbers.
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Old 06.07.2018, 16:06
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

It's hard to sand off because it is, literally, tar and it immediately clogs up your sandpaper. It's like sanding off glue. It would cost him a fortune in sandpaper.
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Old 06.07.2018, 16:22
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

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You could argue it was a "versteckte Mangel", masked by the fresh paint smell, so that gives some extra time to complain. You should tell the landlord asap to fix it by registered mail; email is routinely ignored whenever a swiss business owes you something and useless for court evidence. Give a reasonable deadline and threaten with Mietzinshinterlegung. I'm sure MV will have sample letters for you and explain the proper protocol for behaving here
Not just the fresh paint smell, but whoever was showing the apartment was likely to open all windows beforehand so there may have actually benn no smell.


ETA:
You don't need registered mail as long as the agency replies. Registered mail proves you sent a letter but if the recipient replies by other means of communication that's just as well as the reply confirms receipt.

As for how long you have, that may depend on the contract, 10-30 days seems to apply. But regardless, don't hesitate. Since it's weekend now, the best option is probably to send a registered mail immediately so you can prove swift reaction by you because that way your reaction is proven to have come soon enough.

Last edited by Urs Max; 06.07.2018 at 16:45.
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Old 09.07.2018, 02:13
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

Thank you so much for your useful replies.

Summing up:

1) report "versteckte Mangel" and try to renovate the wood at least partially at the landlords expense, or lower rent by up to 12% (phenols and other shit from cigaretts should fall under the category of constant exposure to toxic stuff)

2) if 1 does not work, decide if the apartment is worth doing washing/sanding/painting myself, or if it is better/cheaper/easier to move somehere else before I settled here and before my furniture arrived.

I will also update you on how it goes, and also what MV replies.
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Old 09.07.2018, 05:28
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

Also, most of flat application formulars have a field "Reason for moving?", so if I apply now for new apartments, should I better give all my old contact data (I still have access to the old place till end of month), as if I haven't moved yet, or frankly state that I just moved in and moving out already because of unfortunate circimstances? I guess this will not be in my favor for flat-hunting...

P.S. Such an embarassing siuation...
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Old 11.07.2018, 12:38
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

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Hello,

unfortunately a week after living in a new apartment I feel that it may be a good idea to move somewhere else. The problem is that the landlord (one of the big companies here in ZH) doesn't want to renovate wooden walls in the apartment after smoking (!) couple lived there for 24 (!) years, which are about 30-40% of the flat surface. This gives the apt. a pretty disctinct smell, which I can't stand. I somehow did not notice it, or did not pay attention to it during the initial viewing.

Initially I assumed that they will paint everything and this will solve the smell issue, but they only painted stone walls with white paint, although at Wohnungsubergabe I explicitly asked to paint also the wood, for which they replied that they did not plan that, but they will see what can be done. After that I reminded them per email that I want the wood be painted, which was ignored. Now I moved in on 1st of July and the apartment smells with a mix of nicotine and paint, with paint smell getting weaker every day and nicotine getting stronger.

Otherwise the apt is really nice, even a sort of dream, I'd say (kitchen and bathroom are a bit old but its okay), located at the border of Kreis 1/4, next to Sihl, with a fantastic view over Zurich, even with a bit of Alps, top floor, two huge balconies, and it is also reasonably priced (less than 2k for 60sqm+2x10sqm balconies). But I have asthma, so I really cannot tolerate that smoke smell.

Basically I have 4 options now:

a) try to push the landlord to actually paint the wooden walls. The drawback is that I am not sure if there is a legal way to force them, and secondly, whether some other parts, like floor laminate or window plastic, maybe also absorbed this smoke and painting wooden walls would only partly solve the issue.

b) paint everything myself, or hire someone to paint it... that will be pricey, and why the heck should I do it myself anyway? And also see previous point...

c) try to cancel the apt, ideally to avoid 3month frist, justifying that they are obviously not sticking to what they are obliged to do (or are they?). Is it even possible in this case? Is there any sort of probation period for renting a flat for such cases or am I now completely screwed?

d) accept it and suffer, or try to use some half-measures to reduce the smell (coffee, HEPA-filter etc.). This I would like to avoid.


P.S. I already contacted Mietverband, but also wanted to have your opinion here.

P.P.S. I don't have much furniture and my new fancy Pfister stuff will only come at the end of August, so I can actually afford temporarily moving back to any WG, while searching for another flat from August/September or so...

So, what do you think?
Run an Ozone Generator. Given the stated scale of the problem, I suggest you run it for 24-48 hours per room. It will kill every single smell molecule in the place. You can buy an Ozone generator from Amazon :

https://www.amazon.de/s/ref=nb_sb_ss...d=GSERFJEDJ4BK
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Old 11.07.2018, 13:23
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

err....don't be in the room when running an ozone generator. Not good for your lungs! Hmmm....knackered lungs from smoke filled walls, or knackered lungs from ozone
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Old 13.07.2018, 10:25
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Re: Cancelling recently signed rental contract?

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Run an Ozone Generator. Given the stated scale of the problem, I suggest you run it for 24-48 hours per room. It will kill every single smell molecule in the place. You can buy an Ozone generator from Amazon :

https://www.amazon.de/s/ref=nb_sb_ss...d=GSERFJEDJ4BK
I already have HEPA filter with UV light and some other features, which doesn't help. And why should I do this anyway? This flat is not my property to handle such issues myself.

P.S. Mietverband said that smell is the proble of the landlord and recommended to send registered mail with complaint and deadline for fixing it, which I did.
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