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Old 02.06.2010, 11:03
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Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

Hi!

Sorry if a variation of this question has been asked before. I imagine it has, but could not find it... So apologies in advance if it's a duplicate

The subject says it all, but for a bit of context... I'm living in Zurich, and all of a sudden I lost electricity in the kitchen area. I went to the electric board and, sure enough, I could not switch it back on.

Being the kitchen area it was pretty important to get electricity back - it's where the fridge and electric oven are! I called an electrician who arrived an hour or so later, and the problem was fixed.

My question now is, do I need to pay for this or is it a responsibility of the landlord? I don't have my contract here with me, but if I remember correctly it says something like me being responsible for the upkeep or the apartment. But does that include thinks like emergency plumbers or electricians?

Any help would be very appreciated! Thanks.
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Old 02.06.2010, 11:14
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

Normally I would assume that this sort of thing is the responsibility of the landlord, but in the same situation I would have called the landlord first and had them arrange the electrician themselves.

I'm lucky in that my landlord is also the architect of my building, so they tend to be very good at sorting out any minor problems like the one you've described. I've never been asked to pay for anything.
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Old 02.06.2010, 11:14
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

It depends on your contract. With my last rental contract, small repairs (less than 100CHF) were to be met by us. Large ones by the landlord. In an emergency, when I couldn't get hold of the landlord, there wasn't a problem.

(For electricity, we were kind of fortunate, as the landlord was the town electrician, and so when we had a fault it was always fixed for free.)
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Old 02.06.2010, 11:43
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

This info may be out of date but I seem to recall something about repairs costing up to 10% of your monthly rent being your responsibility and anything over being the landlord?
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Old 02.06.2010, 15:25
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

If you couldn't switch it back on because of not being able to reset the switch on the electric board, then I think you should be the one paying. In our rental flat we found the instructions on the inside door of the cupboard for the electric board.

Loss of power to the kitchen isn't a real emergency. Things should stay frozen in the freezer until the following morning. I wouldn't call the emergency guys out unless something was leaking water because I can imagine that emergency call out costs would be huge here and i'll be paying.
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Old 02.06.2010, 15:42
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

Most likely your landlord. Generally if it is under Fr. 150 you have to pay, but it really depends on what the problem was and how much it cost. Here is what the Mieterverband says:

Genau festgelegt ist diese Grenze nirgends. Sie liegt somit in einer rechtlichen Grauzone. Die Mietgerichte von Horgen und Uster haben kürzlich entschieden, zum kleinen Unterhalt gehörten nur Reparaturen, welche die handwerklich normal begabte Mieterschaft selber ausführen könne. Ob sich diese Praxis in der ganzne Schweiz durchsetzen wird, ist allerdings offen. Die Mieterinnen- und Mieterverbände würden das begrüssen.

Weit verbreitet ist die Faustregel, dass die Grenze bei Reparaturkosten von Fr. 150.- liegt. Kostet eine Reparatur mehr, hat sie die Vermieterschaft zu bezahlen. Kostet sie nicht mehr, geht sie zu Lasten der Mieterschaft.


Ganz sicher nicht mehr zum kleinen Unterhalt gehören Reparaturen, die mehr als 200 oder 220 Franken kosten. Dies gilt sogar dann, wenn der Mietvertrag eine höhere Grenze ansetzt.


In case you don't speak German: Fr. 150 is the limit assuming that it is something that a normal person can do: repairing a drawer etc. Electricity outages can be caused by many things, not just a fuse, so it is probably something the landlord should take care of.

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If you couldn't switch it back on because of not being able to reset the switch on the electric board, then I think you should be the one paying. In our rental flat we found the instructions on the inside door of the cupboard for the electric board.
And if there were no instructions? And if the problem wasn't a fuse?

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Loss of power to the kitchen isn't a real emergency.
That is very very relative. Not being able to cook can be quite an emergency especially if you have a family, kids etc. My freezer would be defrosted by morning, which means nothing would really be frozen anymore and re-freezing it means freezer burn and ruined food.
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Old 02.06.2010, 15:44
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

Look in your contract.

Mine says I have to cover costs of up to x percent of the either yearly or monthly rent. i dont know the exact number, but think it was 10% of a months rent.

Doc.
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Old 02.06.2010, 15:49
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

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Look in your contract.

Mine says I have to cover costs of up to x percent of the either yearly or monthly rent. i dont know the exact number, but think it was 10% of a months rent.

Doc.
Yeah, that is something that is pretty common but not binding. Anything more than Fr. 200 is not something you have to cover. So, for example, if the water boiler needs replacing, that is a major repair and has to be covered by law by the landlord. The landlord can also not say the renter has to pay Fr. 150 while he covers the rest.
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Old 02.06.2010, 16:07
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

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If you couldn't switch it back on because of not being able to reset the switch on the electric board, then I think you should be the one paying. In our rental flat we found the instructions on the inside door of the cupboard for the electric board.

Loss of power to the kitchen isn't a real emergency. Things should stay frozen in the freezer until the following morning. I wouldn't call the emergency guys out unless something was leaking water because I can imagine that emergency call out costs would be huge here and i'll be paying.
If you can't reset a circuit breaker, then it is usually defective or there is a circuit flaw. Why would I as a tenant ever have to pay for something that should last the lifetime of the building? I am glad that my rental agency is more reasonable. They are being paid to provide a certain minimal functionality and if built ins like electrical circuits, cookers, refrigerators, etc. fail, I hardly see how it is my responsibility. Unless, of course, it can be shown that I damaged them.

Now, I do understand if you called the electrician directly instead of the landlord, how you might be expected to pay as you may not have had permission to spend money or to use a particular repair service. I have had to wait for the hot water to come on, but I haven't had to pay for any repairs yet. (mostly dishwasher)
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Old 02.06.2010, 16:14
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

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And if there were no instructions? And if the problem wasn't a fuse?
The OP could have asked the EF if he couldn't find the instructions Obviously, if it was more than a fuse the landlord should pay.

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That is very very relative. Not being able to cook can be quite an emergency especially if you have a family, kids etc. My freezer would be defrosted by morning, which means nothing would really be frozen anymore and re-freezing it means freezer burn and ruined food.
You can always eat out or get takeaway Your insurance will cover items in your freezer up to a certain amount. You can also ask your neighbours to store some frozen things for you. The cost of all your freezer food is probably still less than the emergency electrician's fee.
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Old 02.06.2010, 17:11
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

Thanks for all the replies so far! I will look closely at my contract, then. I have not received the bill yet, but I expect it to be at least a couple hundred swiss francs...

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If you couldn't switch it back on because of not being able to reset the switch on the electric board, then I think you should be the one paying. In our rental flat we found the instructions on the inside door of the cupboard for the electric board.
Obviously it was not just a matter of not being able to pull the switch up!

From what I understood (the electrician did not speak much english) it turned out that some wires on the electrical panel were loose. This created a bad contact, and for safety the fuse would block the connection. This was why it wouldn't even allow me to turn the switch on - it wouldn't hold on the On position.

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Loss of power to the kitchen isn't a real emergency. Things should stay frozen in the freezer until the following morning.
The following morning would be a Sunday, which would be even worse. This happened on Saturday. Besides the kitchen the whole living room was affected too, as it is the same switch.

This means I would not be able to open the fridge (to keep the cold inside), I would not be able to cook, and I would have no internet and no computer. All this for *at least* a few days. I had a large amount of work to do at home, so yes - this was an emergency for me.
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Old 02.06.2010, 17:17
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

As a landlord in the UK and having been a tenant in several countries including Switzerland, the rule that invariably seems to apply is as follows:

1) I am the landlord --> I have to pay
2) I am the tenant --> I have to pay

hope this helps. *sigh*
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Old 03.06.2010, 00:55
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

Thank you all for the answers, my rental agreement does indeed specify this. It says that all small isolated cases up to 1% of the annual rent have to be paid by me. This is 4 francs bellow that limit...

But even if it was above I think I had to pay this anyway, though, because it does say that the maintenance of fuses and electrical outlets and etc are my responsibility
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Old 03.06.2010, 09:08
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

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Thank you all for the answers, my rental agreement does indeed specify this. It says that all small isolated cases up to 1% of the annual rent have to be paid by me. This is 4 francs bellow that limit...

But even if it was above I think I had to pay this anyway, though, because it does say that the maintenance of fuses and electrical outlets and etc are my responsibility
No, you do not have to pay. As I said above, such 1% clauses in rental agreements are not binding. The law on this is clear and landlords cannot get out of their legal obligations through such contractual clauses. As I am sure you don't want to take my word for it ....

Here is what the Zürich court website says:

Nach Art. 259 OR ist die Reinigung der gemieteten Sache Aufgabe des Mieters. Ebenso hat dieser kleine Ausbesserungen vorzunehmen (z.B. defekte elektrische Sicherungen zu ersetzen). Soweit eine Unzulänglichkeit an der Mietsache in die Kategorie der Reinigung oder kleinen Ausbesserung gehört, bestehen daher auch keine Ansprüche des Mieters gegenüber der Vermieterin. Umgekehrt stellt die Verletzung der Reinigungs- und Ausbesserungspflicht eine Vertragsverletzung des Mieters dar, die unter Umständen zu einer Schadenersatzpflicht nach Art. 97 OR führen kann.

This part explains that the renter has to pay for cleaning and small repairs, for example replacing fuses. That is something even I could do. But you said there were loose wires which led to the power outage. That requires an electrician and is not something the renter has to pay for, ever.

Beispiel: Wegen vernachlässigter Reinigung der Mietsache kommt es zu einem Ungezieferbefall in der gemieteten Wohnung.
Die Ausbesserungspflicht des Mieters ist untergeordneter Natur. Sobald eine Massnahme Fachwissen erfordert, ist sie nicht mehr Sache des Mieters. Als Richtschnur betrachten Schlichtungsbehörde und Mietgericht Zürich bei der Wohnungsmiete zur Zeit einen Wert von Fr. 150.-- pro Reparatur.

This restates the Fr. 150 rule as it has been determined by the courts. As soon as specialized or technical knowledge (Fachwissen) is required, it is no longer the responsibility of the renter. This is a direct translation of the highlighted section above.

Oftmals regeln die Formularmietverträge diese Fragen genauer. Mietvertragsklauseln, welche dem Mieter mehr als nur den kleinen Unterhalt aufbürden, verstossen aber bei der Miete von Wohn- und Geschäftsräumen gegen zwingendes Recht und sind daher unwirksam (Art. 256 Abs. 2 OR).

And finally the famous 1% clauses: here the law is clear. Clauses in rental contracts that require the renter to pay more than small repairs and cleaning (Fr. 150 per repair) are in violation of the law and are therefore not valid.

So, you do not have to pay for faulty wiring no matter what is in your rental contract!!

Source of the information is the Zürich Courts website: http://www.gerichte-zh.ch/ZRP/zueric.../Reinigung.htm
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Old 03.06.2010, 10:27
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

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Thank you all for the answers, my rental agreement does indeed specify this. It says that all small isolated cases up to 1% of the annual rent have to be paid by me. This is 4 francs bellow that limit...

But even if it was above I think I had to pay this anyway, though, because it does say that the maintenance of fuses and electrical outlets and etc are my responsibility

As per Ziger's post, the problem was not simply one of a fuse that you couldn't change, it needed a professional to see to. You are not expected to fix what you don't have the expertise to do. When it comes to wiring and electrical stuff, best not to touch that unless you are a qualified electrician.

I think you said it was a Saturday and if you could not reach the landlord, I think taking the initiative to call someone to fix the problem was the correct thing to do. Send the landlord the bill with an explanation and hope he pays.

I wonder when the place last had an entire electrical inspection. This might be something worth asking about. Faulty wiring can have disastrous consequences.
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Old 04.06.2010, 20:49
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

I thought that the landlord has to take care of this 50% and 50% you?
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Old 04.06.2010, 21:13
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

If your contract specifies that the landlord has to pay, that's the end of the problem for you.

If it says it's your responsibility, that ends the problem also.

If it's a gray area, your best bet is then to approach the landlord very nicely and ask him how he sees it. He may offer to pay, or split the bill. Anyway, you have nothing to lose by contacting him.

Good luck.
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Old 05.06.2010, 07:52
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

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No, you do not have to pay. As I said above, such 1% clauses in rental agreements are not binding...
It is not unusual for landlords to rely on the tenants ignorance of the law, to avoid their obligations. Though mostly, I assume ignorance on the part of the landlord, rather than willful shirking.

The same applies to many spheres of life.
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Old 08.06.2010, 12:00
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Re: Had to call electrician. Who has to pay, me or landlord?

Check your contract first, what is your deductible,then with the landlord.
Depends if is infraructure ora defect caused by your usage.
www.beobachter.ch has good articles on the subject.
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