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Old 16.11.2008, 21:15
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Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

I have searched the forum for anything that might be similar to our situation.

We have been looking for another apartment and have made a mess out of it.

My husband has been doing most of the apartment searching as I am under enormous stress from my current pregnancy. (Am only 18 weeks but have been having contractions for the last 6 weeks).

My husband found a charming 3 room apartment in the heart of Rapperswil old town and thought it would be suitable for the family (2 adults, a 3 year old and one more to come in April 2009). I didn't have a chance to see the place as I could not move around too much due to my medical state. So he signed the contract thinking that when I see the apartment, I will find no faults with it.

I eventually did go and see it last Monday the 10th of November. The apartment is charming and very nice as it has recently been renovated. However, it will not be suitable for our growing family which my husband did not notice.

My name is also on the contract and I have not signed it yet. If I don't sign it, is the contract still valid? My husband informed the landlord that we want to break the contract.

From previous posting on this forum, I understand that both signatures are needed when breaking the contract for a family apartment. Does this also apply for when entering a contract for a family apartment?
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Old 16.11.2008, 22:03
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

Hi there,

I don't know what the legal situation is (I would also think that you need both your signatures) but what did the landlord say when your husband told him that you don't want the flat after all? I'm sure he explained why you weren't able to come and see it before.

Hope everything goes well with your pregnancy!

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Old 16.11.2008, 22:27
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

As it is a charming apartment, you will surely find someone to take it off you.
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Old 17.11.2008, 00:27
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

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I have searched the forum for anything that might be similar to our situation.

We have been looking for another apartment and have made a mess out of it.

My husband has been doing most of the apartment searching as I am under enormous stress from my current pregnancy. (Am only 18 weeks but have been having contractions for the last 6 weeks).

My husband found a charming 3 room apartment in the heart of Rapperswil old town and thought it would be suitable for the family (2 adults, a 3 year old and one more to come in April 2009). I didn't have a chance to see the place as I could not move around too much due to my medical state. So he signed the contract thinking that when I see the apartment, I will find no faults with it.

I eventually did go and see it last Monday the 10th of November. The apartment is charming and very nice as it has recently been renovated. However, it will not be suitable for our growing family which my husband did not notice.

My name is also on the contract and I have not signed it yet. If I don't sign it, is the contract still valid? My husband informed the landlord that we want to break the contract.

From previous posting on this forum, I understand that both signatures are needed when breaking the contract for a family apartment. Does this also apply for when entering a contract for a family apartment?
If I understand correctly, the contract is in both your names and while your husband has signed it, you have not. In most cases this is required but I have had situations where only the husband signed the contract even though it was a "family apartment." Has the contract been sent back to the landlord yet? Did the landlord sign the contract first? (Usually they sign after the tenants).

If the contract has not been signed by all parties, it is not valid yet. If your husband completed an application form, it may have said that if a contract was prepared and you then decided not to take the apartment you would be charged a fee (something like 200 chf is quite standard). Sometimes there is no fee. I recently had a client change his mind after submitting an application and a lease was prepared. It can and does happen. The landlord had so many interested parties he had no trouble finding another tenant.
That is often the case in this market so perhaps you have no need to worry.

In your situation, I might consider waiting to move when you are under less stress, if you are able to wait. Looking for an apartment is really something you ought to do together so you can decide together. If waiting is not an option, then I recommend that you make a checklist for the apartment search, based on the criteria you establish. When your husband goes to view an apartment, he takes the list with.
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Old 17.11.2008, 09:17
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

Thank you demelanie, Goldtop, Mrs. Doolittle for replying.

My husband did mention to the landlord that we were having problems as to why I could not view the apartment but he did not go into details. This pregnancy has been tough on both of us and we have both been very emotional.

After I had saw the apartment, as charming as it is, we both concluded that it is not suitable for our growing family.

Both our names are on the contract. My husband has signed it. The landlord has signed it. And the landlord has one copy. I have not signed anything. I had a look at the application form. As far as I can see, there isn't a clause on the application form that mentions anything about cancelling a prepared contract.

The landlord is claiming that it is too late now to find another tenant as it is close to the end of the year. And is insisting that we pay as my husband has signed the contract.

Mrs. Doolittle, could you direct me to where I may find legal information that is contract is not valid yet as it has not been signed by all parties.

Thanks again.
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Old 17.11.2008, 09:36
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

This is a link to the association of tenants (the site is only in E-F_I

http://www.mieterverband.ch/

They have an FAQ section, but i am not sure whether they have the information you might be looking for. Either way, if you contact them, they might be able to advise you. Normally, they have staff that speaks English.

It is always a good thing to belong to the Mieterverband...

My understanding is that you can break a contract and leave as long as you provide a list of suitable potential tenants... with a the people that are desperately looking for flats in Zurich, you might do this in without too much of an hassle, worse came to worst.
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Old 17.11.2008, 09:44
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

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Thank you demelanie, Goldtop, Mrs. Doolittle for replying.

My husband did mention to the landlord that we were having problems as to why I could not view the apartment but he did not go into details. This pregnancy has been tough on both of us and we have both been very emotional.

After I had saw the apartment, as charming as it is, we both concluded that it is not suitable for our growing family.

Both our names are on the contract. My husband has signed it. The landlord has signed it. And the landlord has one copy. I have not signed anything. I had a look at the application form. As far as I can see, there isn't a clause on the application form that mentions anything about cancelling a prepared contract.

The landlord is claiming that it is too late now to find another tenant as it is close to the end of the year. And is insisting that we pay as my husband has signed the contract.

Mrs. Doolittle, could you direct me to where I may find legal information that is contract is not valid yet as it has not been signed by all parties.

Thanks again.
I am not a lawyer, but on most application forms I have dealt with, ART 162 of the ZGB (Swiss Code of Civil Law) is referenced. On the application form, what this means is that if the apartment will be used as a family home, both spouses must sign. Did you sign the application?

Here is the reference (in German)
http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/210/a162.html

A translation of ART 162 of the Swiss Code of Civil Law can be found here:
http://www.binational.ch/en/fragen/ehe.html
This is the point that applies in this case:
Matrimonial home (ZGB art. 162): The spouses determine their matrimonial home together.

I would use this point to try and get out of the contract.

What is the start date for the new apartment?
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Old 17.11.2008, 09:56
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

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My understanding is that you can break a contract and leave as long as you provide a list of suitable potential tenants... with a the people that are desperately looking for flats in Zurich, you might do this in without too much of an hassle, worse came to worst.
I was going to suggest this as well, if Uno's Garden can't break the contract on the basis that the couple have not chosen it together. What needs to be done is to find a "nachmieter" which in this market I would not think is difficult but it very much depends on where the apartment is located and whether the rent is reasonable. Good places go fast. How it works is first you have to give notice to the landlord, this has to be sent by registered mail. Then you need to obtain application forms for prospective tenants to complete and give to the landlord. But the biggest problem is that you have not actually begun the contract and you don't have keys to even show the place. So really it would have to be the landlord who has to do this. Of course there are costs involved in running an ad and often this is perhaps one of the reasons why applications that are rejected after acceptance have a fee...

I would offer to pay the costs of the advertising for the landlord to find a new tenant.
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Old 17.11.2008, 12:18
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

It is not exactly regular to have just one spouse sign if both your names are on the contract. It may be possible to contest this.

Check with http://www.mieterverband.ch/ if there are grounds to claim that the contract is not valid. If not, you can can get out of the agreement at relatively little cost providing that you find a replacement tenant that the owner will accept.

I understand that this has been a difficult period for you, but try to be more careful about these matters. Signing a contract is a serious commitment. Once signed, the lease agreement becomes binding and the owner can demand that you pay whatever the numbers of monthly rents the terms of contract stipulates.
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Old 17.11.2008, 12:45
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

Other spouse's signature cannot be mandatory. Signing spouse may want to rent alone for whatever reason.

Both spouses must sign before both live in the apartment. And of course, when both sign at entry then both must sign the termination.

The purpose of the dual-signature rule is to prevent the financially stronger spouse (often the husband) walking away and leaving the weaker spouse (wife and children?) stranded. That is bad for the family and bad for the landlord, too.
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Old 17.11.2008, 13:07
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

I'm afraid I don't know anything about your particular situation, but I do know that there is an organisation called ASLOCA who are to help tenants with any issues they may have regarding their rental accommodation, particularly around legal issues. So if anyone can answer your question, I'm guessing that they can. It costs next to nothing to join up. You can find out more about them at: http://www.asloca.ch/
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Old 17.11.2008, 13:38
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

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Other spouse's signature cannot be mandatory. Signing spouse may want to rent alone for whatever reason.

Both spouses must sign before both live in the apartment. And of course, when both sign at entry then both must sign the termination.

The purpose of the dual-signature rule is to prevent the financially stronger spouse (often the husband) walking away and leaving the weaker spouse (wife and children?) stranded. That is bad for the family and bad for the landlord, too.
I would concur. Fact is your husband signed the contract. Despite you being married, your signature merely ratifies that you will be living in the abode and be equally responsible for the costs related to this... much like being married in community of property.

In addition you have a cooling off period to decline the rental offer BUT before it is signed. You will then incur a penalty of between 150-200 CHF that is related to the cost of preparing the rental agreement document.

I think you'd have to win over the sympathy of the landlord to release you as your husband is now legally responsible as the lessor of the apartment.
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Old 17.11.2008, 14:50
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

Whilst only one signature is required to rent the apartment (it would appear that Swiss law assumes that one spouse would only act in concert with the other), this is not true of the termination of the contract where both spouses signatures are mandatory even if only one of the spouses signed the rental agreement if the property in question was used as a family home.
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Old 18.11.2008, 09:34
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

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This is a link to the association of tenants (the site is only in E-F_I

http://www.mieterverband.ch/

They have an FAQ section, but i am not sure whether they have the information you might be looking for. Either way, if you contact them, they might be able to advise you. Normally, they have staff that speaks English.

It is always a good thing to belong to the Mieterverband...

My understanding is that you can break a contract and leave as long as you provide a list of suitable potential tenants... with a the people that are desperately looking for flats in Zurich, you might do this in without too much of an hassle, worse came to worst.

Thanks Lucy_sg. The apartment is in the heart of Rapperswil's old town, not in Zurich. I will go to the Mieterverband this morning.
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Old 18.11.2008, 10:02
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

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My understanding is that you can break a contract and leave as long as you provide a list of suitable potential tenants... with a the people that are desperately looking for flats in Zurich, you might do this in without too much of an hassle, worse came to worst.
The apartment is in the heart of Rapperswil's old town.

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Did you sign the application?

What is the start date for the new apartment?
My name is on the contract but I did not sign the contract or any other document related to this new apartment. The start date is the 15th November 2008.

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It is not exactly regular to have just one spouse sign if both your names are on the contract. It may be possible to contest this.

I understand that this has been a difficult period for you, but try to be more careful about these matters. Signing a contract is a serious commitment. Once signed, the lease agreement becomes binding and the owner can demand that you pay whatever the numbers of monthly rents the terms of contract stipulates.
We are under extreme stress at the moment. My husband was also pressured by the land landlord to sign the lease within a few days of viewing the apartment.

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I think you'd have to win over the sympathy of the landlord to release you as your husband is now legally responsible as the lessor of the apartment.
Tried to talk to the landlord about out situation but he is not interested.

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Whilst only one signature is required to rent the apartment (it would appear that Swiss law assumes that one spouse would only act in concert with the other)..
Snoopy, do you have a reference for this? Thanks.

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Both spouses must sign before both live in the apartment. And of course, when both sign at entry then both must sign the termination.
Goldtop, do you have a reference for this? Thanks

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I was going to suggest this as well, if Uno's Garden can't break the contract on the basis that the couple have not chosen it together. What needs to be done is to find a "nachmieter" which in this market I would not think is difficult but it very much depends on where the apartment is located and whether the rent is reasonable. Good places go fast. How it works is first you have to give notice to the landlord, this has to be sent by registered mail. Then you need to obtain application forms for prospective tenants to complete and give to the landlord. But the biggest problem is that you have not actually begun the contract and you don't have keys to even show the place. So really it would have to be the landlord who has to do this. Of course there are costs involved in running an ad and often this is perhaps one of the reasons why applications that are rejected after acceptance have a fee...

I would offer to pay the costs of the advertising for the landlord to find a new tenant.
The landlord still has the keys. We have offered to pay for the ads and other cost but he is adamant about us honouring the contract.
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Old 18.11.2008, 10:14
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

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Other spouse's signature cannot be mandatory. Signing spouse may want to rent alone for whatever reason.

Both spouses must sign before both live in the apartment. And of course, when both sign at entry then both must sign the termination.
There is no legal requirement for both spouses to sign the contract before living in the appartment. Both signatures are only required for contract termination, regardless of whether both signed the contract or not.

Art. 266l OR.
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Old 04.12.2008, 11:37
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

Hello Uno'sGarden, any news on this? It would be nice to know what happened and that everything ended well
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Old 07.11.2012, 01:33
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

Just looking for some confirmation of a similar situation. I am the tenant who is moving overseas. I have found new tenants who signed a lease contract last week but within a week they are trying to get out of it saying they have uncertainties.

Is there anything like a 'cooling off' period valid in Switzerland? Would their change of mind mean that my contract is back in force? Do I need to find another tenant? Or is it entirely the responsibility of the new tenants to find new tenants.

Does anyone have any advice or similar experience?
Many thanks
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Old 07.11.2012, 12:00
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Re: Advice needed please: Breaking a rental contract before moving in

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Just looking for some confirmation of a similar situation. I am the tenant who is moving overseas. I have found new tenants who signed a lease contract last week but within a week they are trying to get out of it saying they have uncertainties.

Is there anything like a 'cooling off' period valid in Switzerland? Would their change of mind mean that my contract is back in force? Do I need to find another tenant? Or is it entirely the responsibility of the new tenants to find new tenants.

Does anyone have any advice or similar experience?
Many thanks
There is no cooling off period. Once the ink is dry the deal is settled. It is now a true others-people-problem. The only problem is that the may go the dirty route and both parties say that the contract was never signed at all.
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