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Old 14.10.2020, 11:29
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Someone has got the key of my house!

I live in a 4.5 bed flat in Zurich and decided to sub-let one of the rooms.

So I found a person and we have signed a contract saying:
- The contract date 02.10.2020
- The move in date 10.10.2020
- She would pay me a deposit of a month's rent on the day of contract execution (02.10.2020)
- She would pay me the rent in advance before moving in

She has got the key of my apartment on 10.10.2020 but she has never moved in and she has informed me on 12.10 that she simply changed her mind and decided not to live in my flat
  • She did not pay the rent as per the contract
  • She did not pay the deposit in full (only a partial amount)

So I have told her we are still in a legally binding contract you still need to pay what you owe (the rent and the rest of the deposit)

OR

as a goodwill of gesture, I can keep the partial deposit you have paid me which does not even cover a month and you return the key.

She is refusing to return my house key and telling me to pay the small deposit she has paid back to her.

I have already lost the entire October's rent or more (god knows when I can find the right tenant and they can move in) so I'm massively out of pocket. On top of that, someone who doesn't live in my apartment has got the key of it.

Does anyone know what I can do? I tried to get some advise by googling but I am not sure if there's any free advise anywhere.
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Old 14.10.2020, 11:41
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

Send her a registered letter detailing when you expect payment to made by and the key returned, otherwise you will pursue a debt collection against her. And change the locks on the door of course. If you're renting then you may need the landlord/agency's permission to change the locks. And if renting, join the renter's association.
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Old 14.10.2020, 11:52
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

The deposit paid in full is usually the condition which makes the rental contact valid. A key is only given once that is paid in full and then at the beginning of the rental contract. Rent is due on the start of the contract date. So things were not done correctly here at all. Why was a key was given at all when only half the deposit was paid?

As they say, live and learn. Give back the balance of the deposit and get your key back.

Next time follow the correct procedure.

Legally this person has no right to your key. Whether you can keep any part of the deposit is a legal matter.

We once had an au pair leave and not return. She had our key. We went to the police and they paid her a visit and that is how we got the key back.
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Old 14.10.2020, 11:56
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

The key part is scary. The advice from Medea sounds right.

If you have a signed contract it looks like you have all you need to start a betriebung (debt collection) process. How much money depends on what the contract says. What is the notice period? If it's 1 month notice period and you received one registered letter from her tomorrow, she's still liable for the rent of October and November.
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Old 14.10.2020, 12:00
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

Maybe you have to involve the police. I suspect it will be VERY expensive to change your door locks as many Swiss houses/apartments use a fancy key type. We had to do this for one door at our house, and it cost 26 times what it would have done for a new barrel in a UK door lock!
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Old 14.10.2020, 12:01
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

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The deposit paid in full is usually the condition which makes the rental contact valid. A key is only given once that is paid in full and then at the beginning of the rental contract. Rent is due on the start of the contract date. So things were not done correctly here at all. Why was a key was given at all when only half the deposit was paid?

As they say, live and learn. Give back the balance of the deposit and get your key back.

Next time follow the correct procedure.

Legally this person has no right to your key. Whether you can keep any part of the deposit is a legal matter.

We once had an au pair leave and not return. She had our key. We went to the police and they paid her a visit and that is how we got the key back.
I take your point about the deposit and key exchange being done on the same day (on the execution date of the contract, 02.10.2020).

About this: "Rent is due on the start of the contract date". Is it my fault that she did not pay the rent on the start of the contract date? (10.10.2020)
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Old 14.10.2020, 12:06
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

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The key part is scary. The advice from Medea sounds right.

If you have a signed contract it looks like you have all you need to start a betriebung (debt collection) process. How much money depends on what the contract says. What is the notice period? If it's 1 month notice period and you received one registered letter from her tomorrow, she's still liable for the rent of October and November.
The contract of 2.10. Said the deposit was to be paid in full which it wasn't, so why a key was given on 10.10 when the contract conditions were not met makes no sense.

Go to the police to try and get the key back.
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Old 14.10.2020, 12:14
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

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The contract of 2.10. Said the deposit was to be paid in full which it wasn't, so why a key was given on 10.10 when the contract conditions were not met makes no sense.

Go to the police to try and get the key back.
I dont know if this makes any difference but she has told me in writing that she would pay the remaining balance of the deposit as well as the rent before collecting the key.

On the day of collecting the key she told me it was all paid it would take a few days but it turned out to be a lie.

I am a fair person and I think what she has done is horrible. These things make me lose my faith in humanity.
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Old 14.10.2020, 12:19
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

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The key part is scary. The advice from Medea sounds right.

If you have a signed contract it looks like you have all you need to start a betriebung (debt collection) process. How much money depends on what the contract says. What is the notice period? If it's 1 month notice period and you received one registered letter from her tomorrow, she's still liable for the rent of October and November.
The notice period is 1 month. She has given me the notice yesterday.
To be honest I am not worried about the extra money she owes me. I'd like to keep her partial deposit, get the key back and call this water under the bridge but she wont return the key despite not living in my flat (she is registered elsewhere and never registered in my place)
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Old 14.10.2020, 12:23
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

One more example of why you do not live in CH without legal insurance.

EF is not a substitute for proper legal advice and follow up from a lawyer to resolve these situations.
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Old 14.10.2020, 12:59
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

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The notice period is 1 month. She has given me the notice yesterday.
To be honest I am not worried about the extra money she owes me. I'd like to keep her partial deposit, get the key back and call this water under the bridge but she wont return the key despite not living in my flat (she is registered elsewhere and never registered in my place)
Then set the date for the handover protocol where the key would be handed back and damage assessed.
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Old 14.10.2020, 13:06
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

Tell her if she doesn’t return the key by a certain time then you are calling the police.
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Old 14.10.2020, 13:38
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

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The notice period is 1 month. She has given me the notice yesterday.
To be honest I am not worried about the extra money she owes me. I'd like to keep her partial deposit, get the key back and call this water under the bridge but she wont return the key despite not living in my flat (she is registered elsewhere and never registered in my place)
I'm totally not a lawyer, better talk to one.

Anyway, I just noticed something very important. You talk about the deposit (well, half of it) as a bargaining chip. If I understand well, the legal way for deposits is a blocked bank account to her name. Landlords need to prove the tenant is liable for a problem like damage or unpaid rent, and then they get access to the money in the blocked account.

If you have the deposit money in cash or your private account and try to use it as a negotiation tool, I'm not sure how legal is this (Ask a lawyer). The call this water under the bridge strategy may be convenient for your mental health, but not sure it if can cause more trouble than now. I hope she doesn't have the statement from you about keeping the deposit in written form.
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Old 14.10.2020, 13:43
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

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I'm totally not a lawyer, better talk to one.

Anyway, I just noticed something very important. You talk about the deposit (well, half of it) as a bargaining chip. If I understand well, the legal way for deposits is a blocked bank account to her name. Landlords need to prove the tenant is liable for a problem like damage or unpaid rent, and then they get access to the money in the blocked account.

If you have the deposit money in cash or your private account and try to use it as a negotiation tool, I'm not sure how legal is this (Ask a lawyer). The call this water under the bridge strategy may be convenient for your mental health, but not sure it if can cause more trouble than now. I hope she doesn't have the statement from you about keeping the deposit in written form.
I think this was a deposit to guarantee contract completion, not a damage deposit for rental, so it wouldn't fall under those rules.
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Old 14.10.2020, 14:15
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

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I think this was a deposit to guarantee contract completion, not a damage deposit for rental, so it wouldn't fall under those rules.

So, half the rent for October?
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Old 14.10.2020, 15:13
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

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The deposit paid in full is usually the condition which makes the rental contact valid. ...

It certainly could be seen that way. i.e. the contract hasn't been completed.

Get the key back, give the deposit back and move on.
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Old 14.10.2020, 15:44
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

The deposit and key are two separate things. If she's entitled to the deposit back, you must give it. If she's not, and she's holding onto the key, then either let her get away with it to get your key back or talk to the police.
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Old 14.10.2020, 23:12
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

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The deposit and key are two separate things. If she's entitled to the deposit back, you must give it. If she's not, and she's holding onto the key, then either let her get away with it to get your key back or talk to the police.
I have lost entire month's rent and she's still messing me around. I think it's fair I keep the deposit but obviously that's been said without any legal advise.
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Old 15.10.2020, 08:44
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

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I have lost entire month's rent and she's still messing me around. I think it's fair I keep the deposit but obviously that's been said without any legal advise.
I never said it wasn't fair - just that make sure you don't do something illegal. It seems it's illegal for her to hold onto the key until her deposit is returned. Focus on your goals and what is achievable. Not what's fair.
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Old 15.10.2020, 09:33
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Re: Someone has got the key of my house!

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I have lost entire month's rent and she's still messing me around. I think it's fair I keep the deposit but obviously that's been said without any legal advise.
It's not clear to me what the deposit was for. Was it to hold the flat for her, or was it a tiny damage deposit? If it was to hold the flat, I'd say she forfeited it by breaking the contract. If it was for damages, that's another story.
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