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Old 05.08.2008, 12:41
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Getting out of a contract before signing the lease

I have a couple of questions regarding a recent experience when looking for apartments.

The company that I work for (Nestlé) got us an agent to take us around looking for apartments here in Vaud. I was told that the agent gets paid from Nestlé for the service provided and that for this reason they should be neutral in their recommendations.

The agent provided us a list of apartments, one of which was in the area of Chavannes-près-Renens. This apartment was on the ground floor and we were given the price as 2300.- + 300.- for the charges.

When we were inspecting the apartment, the caretaker for the building told us that there was another apartment available on the 5th floor of the same building. This other apartment was not on the list that we had been given earlier. Nevertheless, we went to see this other apartment as well, and while there, were told that the rent for it was a 100 francs less than for the one on the bottom floor.

We were told that the reason for the price was that the 5th floor apartment was 10 square meters smaller. I asked the agent then if it meant that the rent was 2500.- including charges, just to make sure that I had heard her correct. She said yes, it was. We told the agent that we wanted to apply for this apartment, and she sumbitted an application in our behalf.

I should add here that this happened in June, and that we were specifically looking for an apartment where we could move in beginning of September, as we are waiting for our household items to arrive from Australia.

The agent had also been requested by Nestlé to help us with the registering our daughter in a school in the area near the apartment. She wanted to do this a couple of days after we had told her that we would take the apartment. Nothing wrong with that, but it just gave us a feeling that she was very eager with getting it done, as we were supposed to move to the apartment first in the beginning of September.

In any case, some days ago I received an email from the agent, stating that the lease was ready to be signed and asking for written confirmation on that we agree with the rent. In her email she said the rent was "CHF 2840.- (charges included) as you were aware of".

I had to reply to her with that we certainly were not "aware" of the rent being 2840.-, as we had been told it was 2500.-.

This of course has since then become a bit larger issue, as the agent was of the opinion that we must had misunderstood the amount and that we had "promised" to take the apartment.

I was looking at the other threads here in the Housing section, and noticed some responses about "verbal contracts" being binding in Switzerland. I am assuming that this does not apply to a prospective tenant saying that "yes, I would like to apply for this apartment", but please someone correct me if it does.

In any case I wanted to know what are the possibilities of getting out of the apartment contract in following scenarios:
1. you have said you want the apartment, and the landlord has prepared the lease and sent it to you. You have just not signed the lease yet.
2. you have signed the lease and have mailed it to the landlord, but have not yet made any payments towards the security deposit or the rent.

thanks
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Old 05.08.2008, 12:52
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Re: Getting out of a contract before signing the lease

Hi,

Welcome, sorry to hear of your issues.

I'm afraid I can't give you formal legal advice but I would have thought you don't need to worry - you didn't sign the contract.

I know when I was looking, sometimes the rent would include the utilities and other times didn’t', pushing the end rent price up. Really annoying. I know this wasn't in your case so perhaps the agent is worried about 'damaging the relationship' with the vendor and affecting their commission?

Just out of curiosity - what’s the name of the agency?

Good luck
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Old 05.08.2008, 13:02
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Re: Getting out of a contract before signing the lease

Can't help much with the legalities either, but most landlords do seem open to letting you out of your contract early if you find someone to take it over- sometimes this is just having a few showings, and passing them a list of applicants to choose from.

But if you haven't moved in, and haven't signed anything (sometimes applications make you sign that you will take the place if you are chosen), I don't see how you could be stuck with it. Although my opinion in this may make too much sense to be applicable in this country's housing market.

good luck!
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Old 05.08.2008, 13:33
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Re: Getting out of a contract before signing the lease

I too am unable to offer any legal guidance; however, i looked at two apartments which i verbally agreed to take and then subsequently found better offers elsewhere. On both occassions I had no diffculties apart from my HR people telling me that the agent was a bit dribbly-lipped about the matter. As the consumer, I would not worry about the situation - even if they could, do you really think they would take you to court? In addition, i would tell Nestle that you are unhappy with the agent's service - she'll soon change her tune I am sure!

In essence, the property market in CH is backward to say the least when compared to Aus - keep looking until you find something you like and don't panic-rent a place, as you may well regret it.
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Old 05.08.2008, 14:28
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Re: Getting out of a contract before signing the lease

Quote:
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I was looking at the other threads here in the Housing section, and noticed some responses about "verbal contracts" being binding in Switzerland. I am assuming that this does not apply to a prospective tenant saying that "yes, I would like to apply for this apartment", but please someone correct me if it does.

In any case I wanted to know what are the possibilities of getting out of the apartment contract in following scenarios:
1. you have said you want the apartment, and the landlord has prepared the lease and sent it to you. You have just not signed the lease yet.
2. you have signed the lease and have mailed it to the landlord, but have not yet made any payments towards the security deposit or the rent.

thanks
Verbal contracts are binding however for a contract to be valid both parties must be in agreement on the essentials. Considering in your case there is no agreement on the price then there is effectively no contract to rent the place, verbal or otherwise... In
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Old 05.08.2008, 14:39
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Re: Getting out of a contract before signing the lease

Go straight to the HR and let them sort it out with the Agency.
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Old 08.08.2008, 11:06
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Re: Getting out of a contract before signing the lease

Thanks all for your responses.

As to Erm's... question:
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Just out of curiosity - what’s the name of the agency?

Good luck
I do not know the name of the agency, the agents business cards only say "Relocation Assistance". On the other hand the agent at times spoke of working with other people. So perhaps they work as independent subcontractors...

In any case, they have this website:
http://relocationassistance.moginier.ch/
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Old 08.08.2008, 11:13
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Re: Getting out of a contract before signing the lease

Most agencies will let you out of a contract before you have signed it. They will however charge you an administration fee once the contract has been drawn up. This can range anywhere from 50 to a couple of hundred francs.

Not a very good performance by your relocation consultant.... Have you told your employer how unhappy you are with their services?
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Old 09.08.2008, 14:45
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Re: Getting out of a contract before signing the lease

I can provide you with liable legal advice:
1. ask to see the previous contract to make sure that the price has not been raised for no acceptable reason (for example renovation)
2. As long as the contract has not been signed by both parts, no verbal "promise" has any legal value.
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Old 09.08.2008, 14:50
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Re: Getting out of a contract before signing the lease

Check your private messages since I sent you a note, ok?
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Old 03.09.2008, 20:09
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Re: Getting out of a contract before signing the lease

Hi Scriptis,

thank you very much for the advise and for your willingness to help. It is very much appreciated (also apologies for this delayed response).

The rental company sent Nestlé a bill for 139.90 for us not taking the apartment, which I paid and the issue was resolved (HR offered paying for it but since I thought I might need their flexibility in the future, I offered to pay for it on my own).

Thanks to others also for the advise provided.

cheers
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