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Old 24.11.2019, 08:46
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Flats with Extra charges on rental vs those with not

Fellow Expats,

After viewing nearly 40+ flats in Geneva (which appears to be norma these days based on whoever I’ve spoken to?!), finally close to locking in a cosy little place. The catch however is, that the extra ‘charges’ have to be borne by me rather than the estate manager. They havent given an indication of how much they’ll be.

Just wanted to know if anyones had any experience of this? How much would it amount to for a 80sqm place per month? Is it too complex/complicated?

Looking forward to the guidance.
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Old 24.11.2019, 09:34
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Re: Flats with Extra charges on rental vs those with not

How are they itemising the ‘extra charges’?

Is it related to the search or are you referring to the communal charges for general upkeep of the communal areas?
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Old 24.11.2019, 09:39
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Re: Flats with Extra charges on rental vs those with not

Yes, that's usual that the tenant bears the "extra charges". Sorry, not sure what they are called in French. In German they are known as "Nebenkosten".

They typically include some sorts of running costs, e.g. the cleaner for the common spaces (stairwell, passage) of the building. The most important part, however, is the heating.

The landlord estimates (based on past years' costs) approximately how much the heating will cost for the whole buildling. That number is then divided up across the tenants, usually in proportion to the size of their flats. Some use, to define the size, the square metres, others the number of rooms and/or the number of tenants in a flat. That gives the individual flat's annual heating bill. The landlord divides that number by 12 and bills the tenant monthly.

Naturally, the landlord cannot accurately predict the real usage of the next heating season. After all, the winter might be particularly bitter or mild, the tenants may be more or less responsible in their usage, and the oil price fluctuates. Therefore, at the end of the heating season, during the summer months, the landlord adds up the real cost. Then, if the real season was more expensive than the estimated charge, the tenants are billed to top up and cover the deficit. Correspondingly, if the season was cheaper, they get a refund of what they over-paid.

When one leaves, the year is calculated proportionately.

It can (and is allowed to) take the landlord a year to do that calculation of the last winter, and to charge the tenants, also the out-going tenant, that top-up or to refund them any amount over-paid.

Last edited by doropfiz; 24.11.2019 at 10:32.
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Old 24.11.2019, 09:43
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Re: Flats with Extra charges on rental vs those with not

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How are they itemising the ‘extra charges’?
Oh, good point. OP, the landlord should specify those "extra charges" in the contract. The basic rent is known as "exclusive " and the full monthly price as "inclusive". In very small numbers, as an illustration:

Basic rent, excl. 300
stairwell cleaning 10
warm water flat rate 20
heating 1/12th 50

Total rent incl. 300 + 10 + 20 + 50
Of those, the 10 and 20 are fixed charges, and the 50 is the one that can be adjusted again after the end of the heating season.
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Old 24.11.2019, 14:27
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Re: Flats with Extra charges on rental vs those with not

Dear both,

Thank you for the prompt replies. My question however is slightly different.

I understand regarding the 'charges' element and that the tenant has to bear them. Most of the flats I've seen, are advertised as such e.g. 2500 rent + 200 charges or whatever.

The current place which I 'm looking to secure, just has the rent specified e.g. 2500 rent. There is no mention of charges and the agent mentioned that, while typically those are borne by the landlord and paid by the tenant to the LL, in this instance, the tenant will most likely have to pay them directly.

I'm just worried if this is normal, if this is okay, what the charges would be roughly. Would they be similar to apartment blocks e.g. 150-250 per month or would it be a lot higher or lower?

Merci!
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Old 24.11.2019, 14:41
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Re: Flats with Extra charges on rental vs those with not

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Dear both,

Thank you for the prompt replies. My question however is slightly different.

I understand regarding the 'charges' element and that the tenant has to bear them. Most of the flats I've seen, are advertised as such e.g. 2500 rent + 200 charges or whatever.

The current place which I 'm looking to secure, just has the rent specified e.g. 2500 rent. There is no mention of charges and the agent mentioned that, while typically those are borne by the landlord and paid by the tenant to the LL, in this instance, the tenant will most likely have to pay them directly.

I'm just worried if this is normal, if this is okay, what the charges would be roughly. Would they be similar to apartment blocks e.g. 150-250 per month or would it be a lot higher or lower?

Merci!
If the agent is unaware and unwilling to find out for you, could you ask the current tenants what their real world experience is?

In our apartment, we pay CHF 200 a month in charges. These are for heating and hot water. We usually receive 50% back each year, once the annual reconciliation takes place.

We have a separate contract for parking.
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Old 24.11.2019, 15:09
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Re: Flats with Extra charges on rental vs those with not

Thanks much .

I think its just a bit different for some flat units where heating+others are taken care of the building management who pay for heating and charge a flat rate per month (which is advertised with the property).
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Old 25.11.2019, 00:08
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Re: Flats with Extra charges on rental vs those with not

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the agent mentioned that, while typically those are borne by the landlord and paid by the tenant to the LL, in this instance, the tenant will most likely have to pay them directly.
Since the agent knows this, ask him/her to give you a list of
  • all the extra charges,
  • the fully contact details of each company to whom you would have to pay them,
  • the typical amounts.
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Old 25.11.2019, 00:42
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Re: Flats with Extra charges on rental vs those with not

I have never seen a rental ad where the Nebenkosten is not clearly stated. I find it really weird. It is totally within your rights to ask exactly how much they will be.
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Old 25.11.2019, 02:29
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Re: Flats with Extra charges on rental vs those with not

I agree with Kedi.

The "Nebenkosten" should encompass heating, and then possibly a fee for the cleaning of the common areas, sometimes a flat rate for laundry, usually also water.

It occurred to me, however, that perhaps the "extras" to which the agent is referring are other things, for which tenants do, ordinarily, pay, themselves. These could be, for example: electricity, gas, internet, phone, TV licence fees and subscriptions.

OP, definitely, ask your agent to put it in writing.
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Old 25.11.2019, 03:40
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Re: Flats with Extra charges on rental vs those with not

Hi OP,

I recently did research on "additional charges" or Nebenkosten here in Zurich. The issue is: whether the landlord opts for "pauschal" meaning inclusive or "konto" meaning on account. I spoke with someone from the Mieterverband in Zurich and roughly 80% of landlords opt to have "konto" on their lease which means that a projection of estimated costs is established at the commencement of the lease. After each year of the tenancy, the actual costs are reconciled by the landlord and either the tenant is given a refund or issued a bill based on costs incurred.

In our case, we have "pauschal" which means that the landlord does not have to itemize the costs on a annual basis. Instead, a "buffer" is built into the additional charges/"Nebenkosten" on the lease. Should the gas rate increase, the landlord bears the cost. That said, should the rates decrease, the tenant will not be issued a refund. Under "pauschal", the landlord does not need to provide an annual statement itemizing individual unit cost but the downside is that the "pauschal"/ nebenkosten cannot be increased during the tenancy unless the landlord provides sufficient proof. The representative with whom I spoke from the Mieterverband joked that "pauschal" is typically used by "lazy" landlords...lol!
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