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Old 11.05.2017, 11:10
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The best way to get back a security deposit

We are about to move back to US and are overwhelmed by all the stories from people who had trouble getting their security deposit back. Our leasing company is notoriously known for not being very nice to their tenants. Our security deposit is worth about 10,000 CHF. They also made us put down a 900CHF deposit for a parking space which - as I know understand - was a rip off. A Swiss friend recommended not to pay 3 last months of rent and have the leasing company use the security deposit to cover the outstanding rent. Is there a catch? Can it cause us any legal complication?

Any advise will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance!
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Old 11.05.2017, 11:20
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

There are many catches.

First and foremost that any of your countrymen will have trouble in the future to get an apartment from this company and maybe others they talk to.

As soon as you miss the the rent the first time they will start the pursuit process to reclaim the money. They will use any possible mean to get hold of the money may even put a hold on your household goods when you intend to move. They may even be able to kick you out before the end of the lease. If at all you may could get away with not paying the very last rent.
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Old 11.05.2017, 11:22
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

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A Swiss friend recommended not to pay 3 last months of rent and have the leasing company use the security deposit to cover the outstanding rent. Is there a catch? Can it cause us any legal complication?
Yes, it's illegal.

Tom
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Old 11.05.2017, 11:22
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

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...A Swiss friend recommended not to pay 3 last months of rent and have the leasing company use the security deposit to cover the outstanding rent. Is there a catch? Can it cause us any legal complication?
Yes, it can cause legal complications and it's very bad advice. Your deposit, held in an account under your name I hope, and your rent are not legally linked.

Best bet: make sure there is someone at the Mieterverband when you hand back, and that the assessment is fair. Ensure any claims for damages go through your insurer. Be prepared to wait for up to year before you see any money back - i.e. count the deposit money as dead, don't rely on it being available in a hurry.
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Old 11.05.2017, 11:31
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

Well ... I definitely do not want to do anything illegal or cause any potential problems for future international renters. Given the reputation of our leasing agency it is very unlikely we will get much money back... Thank you all for the quick response!
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Old 11.05.2017, 11:34
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

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Well ... I definitely do not want to do anything illegal or cause any potential problems for future international renters. Given the reputation of our leasing agency it is very unlikely we will get much money back... Thank you all for the quick response!
You'll get your full deposit
MINUS any underpayment of the nebenkosten
MINUS any repair costs not covered by insurance
MINUS any cleaning costs if it doesn't reached the required standard
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Old 11.05.2017, 11:38
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

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They may even be able to kick you out before the end of the lease.
Unlikely. Normal procedure in case of missed payment (Art. 257d OR) takes 3+ months:
1) landlord must write a letter demanding payment within 30 days under the threat of cancellation
2) if tenant doesn't pay, landlord may cancel with a notice period of at least another 30 days, but only at the end of a calendar month - it'll be 3 months by now
3) get a court order and police to forcefully evict the tenant, if he's not cooperative - a few more weeks.

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Can it cause us any legal complication?
Landlord will definitely at least file a Betreibung and might want to sue you. You're at fault, so you'll bear all the legal costs for everything in the end. It can get expensive. These charges are enforceable if you have money in Switzerland (your deposit for example), and may also be enforceable in your new jurisdiction. Given the weight that yankees place on credit scoring, I'm not sure it'd be wise to cast any shadow of a doubt on it

Last edited by ivank; 11.05.2017 at 11:49.
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Old 11.05.2017, 11:50
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

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Well ... I definitely do not want to do anything illegal or cause any potential problems for future international renters. Given the reputation of our leasing agency it is very unlikely we will get much money back... Thank you all for the quick response!
The deposit should be in an escrow bank account. If this is the case, the landlord can't get hold of the money unless warranted, i.e. unless money is due as outlined by dodgyken in post #6.

Last edited by Urs Max; 11.05.2017 at 12:03.
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Old 11.05.2017, 11:54
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

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The deposit should be in an escrow bank account. If it is the landlord can't get hold of the money unless warranted, unless money is due as outlined by dodgyken in post #6.
Sure he can - all he has to do is file a Betreibung with some phony charges. If you're not there to defend yourself, they'll confiscate the money without any fact checking of landlord's claims
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Old 11.05.2017, 12:13
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

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Sure he can - all he has to do is file a Betreibung with some phony charges. If you're not there to defend yourself, they'll confiscate the money without any fact checking of landlord's claims
OP will know, provided s/he has mail forwarded to the new home and be able to react.
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Old 11.05.2017, 12:32
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

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We are about to move back to US and are overwhelmed by all the stories from people who had trouble getting their security deposit back. Our leasing company is notoriously known for not being very nice to their tenants.
The owner/agent can legally withhold the deposit release for up to 12 months after the end of the rental contract. This is to enable the final calculations for heating oil, elevator maintenance, gardening etc to be made. Many people from abroad don't realise this, and then complain their deposit is being withheld.
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Old 11.05.2017, 12:43
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

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The owner/agent can legally withhold the deposit release for up to 12 months after the end of the rental contract. This is to enable the final calculations for heating oil, elevator maintenance, gardening etc to be made. Many people from abroad don't realise this, and then complain their deposit is being withheld.
Yes. In a related thread, I posted some more background about what Sbrinz rightly says here.
https://www.englishforum.ch/2757807-post14.html
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Old 11.05.2017, 12:44
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

The best way to get back most of a security deposit is to clean apartment thoroughly, patch the paint where its dirty, seal all the holes etc. Basically make it look as close as it was given to you. Hire someone from mieterverband to come at the time of handover so that agency doesn't take you on ride for damages https://www.mieterverband.ch/mv-zh/h...ietraeume.html

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We are about to move back to US and are overwhelmed by all the stories from people who had trouble getting their security deposit back. Our leasing company is notoriously known for not being very nice to their tenants. Our security deposit is worth about 10,000 CHF. They also made us put down a 900CHF deposit for a parking space which - as I know understand - was a rip off. A Swiss friend recommended not to pay 3 last months of rent and have the leasing company use the security deposit to cover the outstanding rent. Is there a catch? Can it cause us any legal complication?

Any advise will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance!
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Old 11.05.2017, 13:22
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

Or in the Suisse Romande a representative from ASLOCA http://www.asloca.ch/

One of the biggest mistake people do is that they only clean but do not fix minor issues. A new gasket for the fridge is just a few francs when you order it yourself. If done by the landlord he will charge also for installation. A few patches of paint at some strategeic place is also cheap, done by the landlord few hunder francs.

In short, fix everything which comes under the minor repair clause. Also fix anything you damaged which is not wear and tear.

https://www.mieterverband.ch/mv/miet...satzteile.html
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Old 11.05.2017, 14:28
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

Whilst I don't say it's a good idea to just stop paying .. I doubt that the agency would notice immediately and doubt if they would immediately open a case.. The agency for my previous place once e-mailed me to say I'd missed a payment 4 months ago and could i sort it out please at my convenience!? Turned out i hadn't missed anything, they apologized and everybody happy.

As SwissinUS says, it's easy to make the place ok on moving out.. I spent 20chf on paint and went around fixing all the little marks and scuffs, 10chf on some colored floor polish sorted out scuffs there.. Then we got the place professionally cleaned. Walked around with the regie on move out day and nothing to do.

If you broke it, fix it.. Simple..
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Old 11.05.2017, 14:29
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

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Well ... I definitely do not want to do anything illegal or cause any potential problems for future international renters. Given the reputation of our leasing agency it is very unlikely we will get much money back... Thank you all for the quick response!
You should have personal liability insurance. As I understand it, it's the main thing it is for, ensuring that you are not personally liable for every bit of wear and tear, not to mention damage that has occurred. So, either it is considered fair wear and tear (if there is any notion of this at all here) or it should be passable onto your PLL.

If I have this wrong, I would like to be corrected. It seems to be often stated that way on this site...
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Old 11.05.2017, 14:40
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

Deposits are pretty safely guarded here compared to other countries (the UK in my experience). Your deposit is in a bank account in your name, right?


The landlord has to give valid reason for taking money from the account and you have to agree to it. Examples are given above in the thread - cleaning, damage, any required extra for heating/water charges (you can request the full bill of charges to validate that). The rest is then returned to you.


I'd say... take lots of photos of the flat once cleaned, showing that you've left it in a good state. Make sure everything works as when you moved in. Check out the inventory you did when you moved in and make sure it matches the current condition. Then they would have difficulty in taking money from your deposit. It can take up to a year to get it back.


You can also hire a cleaning company who specialises in end-of-lease cleaning... then you can be certain you won't have issues in this area.
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Old 11.05.2017, 14:59
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

If you want to be sure, then use a professional cleaner with guarantee who will be there at the handover. Also, you might want to have someone from the renters association there at the handover.

While this will costs some money, it will also mean you've done the best to get the deposit back.
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Old 11.05.2017, 14:59
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

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The landlord has to give valid reason for taking money from the account and you have to agree to it.
There's another way which doesn't need your active consent: landlord files Betreibung, you fail to react upon it in good time, and it becomes valid and then the bank will pay out. Noone would care about whether the demand is justified or not during the whole process.
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Old 11.05.2017, 15:08
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Re: The best way to get back a security deposit

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Make sure everything works as when you moved in. Check out the inventory you did when you moved in and make sure it matches the current condition.
Yes, Enohzee is right about this inventory, sometimes called the protocol.

When you moved in, you and the landlord or caretaker should have made such an inventory. It documents the state of the flat when you got the keys, and is a list, room by room, of any defects. Any tenant should do this meticulously, pointing out and recording every little scratch.

This inventory should be kept together with your rental contract, always.

You can use this to prove that some damage was already there when you arrived, and a landlord will be using it to try to show any damages which arose during your tenancy.
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