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Old 02.12.2019, 22:18
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Downside to renting an old house with oil heat? Possible to check cost with Gemeinde?

Any downsides to renting a house from a property manager, where the house has its own old oil tank, and a relatively modern oil heater? I understand that an old system such as this could be a liability to the owner, given changing environmental policies and the general datedness of this type of system. But is there any downside to renting such a house, other than the obvious that some of that liability to the owner may translate into a higher rent? To me, I see the rent amount and if I am okay with it, then I don't know if I care about the type of heat. Unless there are any downsides to living with this type of heat? Are there any risks to having a big oil tank under one's house? Pollutants or fire hazard?

Secondly I'm wondering, is it normally possible to check with the Gemeinde what past costs have been (say, altogether for all services)?
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Old 02.12.2019, 22:38
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Re: Downside to renting an old house with oil heat? Possible to check cost with Gemei

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Secondly I'm wondering, is it normally possible to check with the Gemeinde what past costs have been (say, altogether for all services)?
Unless the Gemeinde is the landlord, I wouldn't think they have any idea what the heating costs have been. How and why would they? This is something that you need to find out from the landlord, although generally, in houses, the costs for oil would be paid directly by the tenant, unless something else was agreed.
Service on the heating system may have to be paid by the tenant, but that is something that should be agreed in the rental contract. Maybe there is a Service contract already in place, in which case the costs (for service at least) should be quite transparent.
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Old 02.12.2019, 22:49
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Re: Downside to renting an old house with oil heat? Possible to check cost with Gemei

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Unless the Gemeinde is the landlord, I wouldn't think they have any idea what the heating costs have been. How and why would they? This is something that you need to find out from the landlord, although generally, in houses, the costs for oil would be paid directly by the tenant, unless something else was agreed.
Service on the heating system may have to be paid by the tenant, but that is something that should be agreed in the rental contract. Maybe there is a Service contract already in place, in which case the costs (for service at least) should be quite transparent.
Ah okay right. A little brain fart. I was thinking about the garbage and other services... I think water is through the Gemeinde, so I mentally lumped in heat.

The landlord told me the average cost, and I was fine with it. I'm used to the US though and never trusting anyone in the rental market, and so always double checking the numbers with them directly. So I don't know here, I guess I would just ask the landlord like you say-- what company is handling the heating, can I double-check the price with them, plus, what type of service agreement is there if any, and if the system breaks down or needs some costly replacement or becomes illegal to operate... who pays for it.

I wouldn't have thought a tenant could be responsible for this type of thing. So far my impression in Switzerland has been that renters are relatively safe from any unreasonable costs or risks, but I don't know if that's really true.
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Old 02.12.2019, 23:04
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Re: Downside to renting an old house with oil heat? Possible to check cost with Gemei

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Ah okay right. A little brain fart. I was thinking about the garbage and other services... I think water is through the Gemeinde, so I mentally lumped in heat.

The landlord told me the average cost, and I was fine with it. I'm used to the US though and never trusting anyone in the rental market, and so always double checking the numbers with them directly. So I don't know here, I guess I would just ask the landlord like you say-- what company is handling the heating, can I double-check the price with them, plus, what type of service agreement is there if any, and if the system breaks down or needs some costly replacement or becomes illegal to operate... who pays for it.

I wouldn't have thought a tenant could be responsible for this type of thing. So far my impression in Switzerland has been that renters are relatively safe from any unreasonable costs or risks, but I don't know if that's really true.
The Gemeinde would be able to give you an idea of the costs associated with garbage, water and sewage.

As far as regular maintenance is concerned, it could well end up as the tenant's responsibility if under the limit for "Kleinunterhalt" (generally around CHF 250), however anything serious such as a major breakdown associated with costly repairs or the replacement of the heating would definitely be at the landlord's expense. Also, if legislation made the unit illegal, it would be the landlord's responsibility to replace it.
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Old 02.12.2019, 23:07
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Re: Downside to renting an old house with oil heat? Possible to check cost with Gemei

You need to know whether you be responsible for buying the oil each year, or whether the landlord will do that. If it'll be you, you could ask the landlord for the details of the usual supplier, and ask them how much oil they've typically supplied.

Bear in mind that your heating consumption may be higher or lower than the previous years' figures, since each winter is different, and you and the previous tenants may have different needs/wants.

Maybe this recent thread about the extra charges will be of some help: https://www.englishforum.ch/housing-...those-not.html
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Old 02.12.2019, 23:29
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Re: Downside to renting an old house with oil heat? Possible to check cost with Gemei

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The Gemeinde would be able to give you an idea of the costs associated with garbage, water and sewage.

As far as regular maintenance is concerned, it could well end up as the tenant's responsibility if under the limit for "Kleinunterhalt" (generally around CHF 250), however anything serious such as a major breakdown associated with costly repairs or the replacement of the heating would definitely be at the landlord's expense. Also, if legislation made the unit illegal, it would be the landlord's responsibility to replace it.
Interesting regarding the Kleinunterhalt.

I'm not too worried about budgeting exactly for the costs, as long as it isn't exorbitant. I just had never seen an oil tank like that and wondered what I could be getting myself into. As long as nobody is saying "don't ever rent a house with one of these!" I am probably going to be fine. The house seemed well insulated, the heater itself looked modern, and the price that the landlord mentioned sounded fine to me, even if it was a lowball or an accurate figure from a tenant who was very sparing in their use of the heat.
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Old 02.12.2019, 23:45
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Re: Downside to renting an old house with oil heat? Possible to check cost with Gemei

Normally, you pay for the oil, which most likely also heats your hot water as well.

Tom
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Old 03.12.2019, 00:32
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Re: Downside to renting an old house with oil heat? Possible to check cost with Gemei

Normally the agent should be able to advise you of the annual fuel costs but it'll vary accordingly with your preferences, number of occupants compared to before etc.

It's a common system in rural parts and should work well, basically you have energy on tap and the tanks tend to be huge so you can buy lots of fuel. Maybe you need to work out the tank level on moving in, eg if the tanks are near-empty then budget CHF 1,000 just to get some in there to see you through winter

There's a fire risk but obviously the % of houses that burn down because of the fuel tank is minimal, you should have insurance anyway; in my canton it's compulsory. More realistically you can get functional problems, ideally get the landlord to agree to an annual service, basically to remove the soot from the burner, and clean the filter for the fuel coming into the burner. It's a quick job and in the owner's interest as servicing is cheap compared to the whole thing breaking down, fuel leaking etc etc
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Old 03.12.2019, 08:19
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Re: Downside to renting an old house with oil heat? Possible to check cost with Gemei

Not a rented house, but I can give you some idea of what you might need to consider.

Oil prices vary much more than electricity does. For example November last year the offer from Migrol I got was CHF105.40 per 100 litres for the standard oil. The last one I had from them in September was CHF86.40. Our tank holds 3,300 litres and we usually get it filled up when it drops below the 2,000 litre mark because that bring those prices into play. If I bought less it would be 3 francs more per 100 litres. Also check whether the oil can be bought via a bulk purchase with your neighbours, again that can lower the price because of the higher volume involved.

There'll be, or should be, an annual maintenance service for the boiler and also it will need to be inspected by a chimney sweep to make sure it's within the regulations. Note that the chimney sweep's word is effectively law, any problem they find must be fixed so they're happy with it. Whether you pay for these or the landlord does should be outlined in your rental contract.

Also check when the oil tank itself was last renovated, this has to be done every 10 years. I would think that should be a cost to the landlord, but again check your contract to be sure. What this entails is emptying the tank and cleaning all the muck that accumulates in it out then putting the oil back again.
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Old 03.12.2019, 10:49
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Re: Downside to renting an old house with oil heat? Possible to check cost with Gemei

for a rented property you can ignore as it is not your problem. the main question marks over oil are whether they will need to be replaced in the future and the hassle of having to order and keep the tank from running empty as well as on-going maintenance.
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