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Old 05.06.2021, 18:45
Join Date: May 2021
Location: BERN
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Renovations requested by landlord

Brief: Our landlord wants to renovate the kitchen in our rented apartment. At the moment, this is being pushed through without any consultation with us. Fellow tenants have had theirs renovated last year, and it was a very unpleasant experience (dust, possibly asbestos exposure, unreasonably long duration of works, no access to a working kitchen). What are our rights and our landlord's responsibilities in this scenario?

My partner and I rent a 2.5 bedroom apartment in Bern. My partner's been a tenant here for almost a decade, I've only been recently been put on the tenancy.

Our landlord started renovating all the kitchens in the building last year. They clustered the renovations into three, with first the left side apartments renovated, then the middle, and now they have contacted us that they're looking to renovate those on the right side (our side) of the building as well.

Normally this would be a 1-2 weeks of inconvenience, but we have heard from other tenants that the contractors building the kitchen came by whenever they pleased, and the works took a total of 8-10 weeks.

During these 10 weeks, these fellow tenants had no kitchen (they received a tiny cooking plate, i.e. smells in either their bedroom or living room), and were subject to workers coming and going as they pleased (sometimes just for 5 minutes, to measure something, then they'd leave for a few days).

Our landlord is now trickle feeding us information, mentioning that the renovation of our kitchen will be due "this summer".

I have several issues with this, if they handle it as they have handled it last year with other tenants:
*Total duration of 8-10 weeks
*No access to a functional kitchen, i.e. increase in cost of making/ordering food
*Basically living on a construction site
*The insulation in this building is asbestos. The landlord made no mention of what countermeasures would be taken. Fellow tenants said there was "a significant amount of dust".
*I work from home, i.e. this apartment's living room is my office. With frequent meetings with clients, any use of tools would cause a significant disruption to my work.
*We're not being offered any storage space, i.e. potential damage to our possessions.

What are our rights and our landlord's obligations in this type of scenario? Can we request alternative accommodation during the works (I feel this would encourage the landlord to get things done this time), compensation or do we have the option of refusing access entirely on the basis of danger to our health (asbestos)? Is there any type of tenants associations which may be able to help us in Bern?

asbestos, renovation, tenancy

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