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Old 12.09.2022, 10:56
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Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

Hi All!
I have a case where my landlord wants to partition my studio apartment to create a tiny bedroom (3x2m). It is going to be Harry-Potter style, no windows, kind of a 'room'.

I do not want it, was not consulted that he plans to do such a thing. I was only told that a worker will come over to do some checks and plan repainting of the apartment. Once the worker showed up he told me what is the actual plan.

My apartment is a furnished one, which does not have a lot in it. Nothing about apartment 'improvements'. Swiss Code of Obligations apply to matters not regulated in it.

I checked the code and found this paragraph:
Quote:
H. Renovations and modifications
I. By the landlord
Art. 260
1 The landlord or lessor may renovate or modify the object only where conscionable for the tenant or lessee and the lease has not been terminated.

2 In carrying out such works, the landlord or lessor must give due consideration to the tenant or lessee’s interests; all claims of the tenant or lessee for reduction of the rent (Art. 259d) and for damages (Art. 259e) are reserved.
I am bad with legal things, can the landlord force me to do the modification of the apartment?
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Old 12.09.2022, 11:13
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

Join the renters association. They can advise you and know the law better than most landlords.
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Old 12.09.2022, 13:56
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

Thanks, good advice. Will polish my German and try to figure out how I can join them.
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Old 12.09.2022, 15:19
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

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I checked the code and found this paragraph:


I am bad with legal things, can the landlord force me to do the modification of the apartment?
Reading the German version, I'd say no, he can't make modifications or refurbish without your agreement. If he wants to do it without your agreement, then he must terminate the contract.
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Old 12.09.2022, 15:36
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

I'm also not sure about the legality of having a windowless room. We bought a new-build attic apartment (5 m ceilings) and we ran into trouble from the commune because the skylight in the bedroom was too high. According to Swiss (or maybe canton Vaud?) building regulations, in order for a space to be habitable you need a window at such a height that it provides a direct line of sight out to the outside. It was a big deal: in order for the entire building to receive its certificate of habitability the skylight had to be relocated to a lower height at the architect's expense, as there are no other windows in that room. We actually preferred having the window at the higher height (it made sense because the ceiling is so high), but we were told that our personal preference couldn't override the rules, and we now have the skylight at a slightly awkward height. With an amazing view of the kitchen of the flat directly opposite us.


I doubt a windowless 3x2 metre room would be up to code. Sounds to me like a sleazy landlord is trying to make your bachelor's apartment a 2 piece, which they could then charge more money for.

Last edited by Bossa Nova; 12.09.2022 at 19:26.
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Old 12.09.2022, 16:05
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

On a purely practical level, a bedroom with no window and hence no ventilation is quite possibly likely to suffer with humidity problems.
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Old 12.09.2022, 18:42
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

Why the heck is he doing this? Surely it cost a fair bit, he will not be able to charge you more so I just don't get it. Are you sure it's not a misunderstanding?
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Old 12.09.2022, 21:17
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

I have no idea why is he doing this... Unfortunately it is not a misunderstanding, the crew that does it, took me to another apartment to have a look at the 'final product'. Luckily, mine has been rescheduled to October. I already registered in the tenants association. Will give them a call tomorrow, I also asked for help from my insurance company, since I have legal help there.

Humidity is one, but heat is the worst thing. It's a building from the concrete bonanza period. When we had a nice summer in Zuri this year, I had 29-32 degrees in my apartment, day and night. Normally fan is good enough, but unless there will be a ceiling fan, that box will be a sweat-box.
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Old 13.09.2022, 15:03
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

Not a lawyer: in my experience only bathrooms and storage rooms can be windowless, but they are not counted as "rooms".

The tenant's association will for sure know how to consider this case.
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Old 13.09.2022, 18:06
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

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Not a lawyer: in my experience only bathrooms and storage rooms can be windowless, but they are not counted as "rooms".

The tenant's association will for sure know how to consider this case.

Definitely ask the tenant's association, but to give my experience this is precisely what we were told (see my anecdote above): if a room (which is neither a bathroom nor a storage room) does not have a window (or at least a window that conforms to the cantonal/national building code) the room is:


a) not considered fit for human habitation (it's just a closet), and
b) is also not counted towards the square metre-age of the flat. In our case, if we hadn't fixed the window issue in the bedroom our apartment would have officially been downgraded from 100m2 living space to 85 m2 living space. Given that we'd paid for 100m2, you can be damn sure we had the architects rectify the situation at their expense. (Although we were surprised that the architects didn't seem to know the window rules in the first place????)


I am highly doubtful that your landlord can create a windowless bedroom in an existing flat.



Please keep us posted of any developments.
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Old 13.09.2022, 20:22
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

Very interesting to hear the outcome of this situation. It totally doesn't make sense what's happening here.

We ourselves have just been granted a building permit for the expansion of our living space by deepening the cellars:

In order to qualify as habitable, the rooms needed to be at least 9m2 each, have a window of a certain size, 240 cm ceiling height and be heated. The parts of the cave we will not deepen (and they stay at 207 cm height) such as the technical area and the washroom, will not be officially counted towards our living space.
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Old 13.09.2022, 21:45
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

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The parts of the cave ...
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Old 13.09.2022, 22:29
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

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Cave. French for Cellar.
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Old 14.09.2022, 11:52
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

I completely agree that such a small room is unlivable...

I register with the tenant association, have a meeting with them next week.
I will have to break it to him that I am not willing to have my apartment partitioned. Sooo, things are going to become 'interesting' . I want to do it after talking with the association advisor though.
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Old 14.09.2022, 19:40
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

Might be worth checking whether a building permit was obtained. It is possible one is not needed, but requirements vary greatly by canton.

Certainly you might stir up trouble just by asking the authorities. Go for it.
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Old 14.09.2022, 20:40
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

There's an ongoing contract both parties are bound by and have to fulfill, including the current partitioning and area. I don't think this can be done against OP's will under the current contract. Of course the owner is free to give notice (in which case the renter could request an extenstion of the contract).

Code of obligations:

H. Renovations and modifications
I. By the landlord
Art. 260
1 The landlord or lessor may renovate or modify the object only where conscionable for the tenant or lessee and the lease has not been terminated.
2 In carrying out such works, the landlord or lessor must give due consideration to the tenant or lessee’s interests; all claims of the tenant or lessee for reduction of the rent (Art. 259d) and for damages (Art. 259e) are reserved.


There's also §257h, but that's on repairs and maintenance, not on outright changes to the apartment:

V. Duty of tolerance
Art. 257h
1 The tenant or lessee must tolerate works intended to remedy defects in the object or to repair or prevent damage.
2 The tenant or lessee must permit the landlord or lessor to inspect the object to the extent required for maintenance, sale or future leasing.
3 The landlord or lessor must inform the tenant or lessee of works and inspections in good time and take all due account of the latter’s interests when they are carried out; all claims of the tenant or lessee for reduction of the rent (Art. 259d) and for damages (Art. 259e) are reserved.
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Old 23.09.2022, 13:42
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

I will definitely check with the local KreisBuro about how these type of changes are classified.

I had my appointment with the Tenants Association and wow . Really nice bunch of people. Hard to believe that the membership is so cheap. I also had a bit of time to think things through, I thought about changing the apartment anyway - so ... will just do it quicker. I really do not appreciate the stress =_=...

The lawyer from the Association said that I can disagree to the changes (which I did via email) and it may end up with mediation court. The important takeaway for me was, that even if I the landlord will want to terminate the agreement, I will have my 3 months notice period to look for a different place.

The landlord of course replied that he can do whatever he wants and (oh the irony..) quoted Tenants Association web page. Obviously he selected only one sentence that indicates he can kind of do it, ignoring other paragraphs on the same page that say tenants should be notified.

I also found an article that says conversions cannot be done during the notice period, will check with the legal people if that is true. That could be my last resort to have peaceful 3 months to look for a new place...
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Old 23.09.2022, 14:34
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

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The landlord of course replied that he can do whatever he wants
He needs to enter the apartment for that, and that's something he can't do against your will. It won't hurt to remind him of that. And maybe install a camera.
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Old 24.09.2022, 04:47
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

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That could be my last resort to have peaceful 3 months to look for a new place...
3 months or 6? the next moving date is in 6 month I think.
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Old 24.09.2022, 05:56
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Re: Unwanted partitioning of the apartment

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3 months or 6? the next moving date is in 6 month I think.
Not everywhere. I have a 3 months notice period, only cannot move per end of december.
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