How to get rid of an apartment, part two
November 26, 2016 12:51 AM   Subscribe

Thanks to you, I have found new potential (sub)-tenants for my apartment in Switzerland. How do I proceed now?

Thanks to the advice I got here last week, I posted my apartment everywhere from several Facebook groups to students housing sites and found a few candidates. I am unsure how to proceed now to make sure I will really be able to leave here without any bad surprises coming once I'm abroad.

So far, I have one couple very interested in the apartment, but they don't want to buy the furniture. I'd also have to let them know real soon because they have another apartment they need to get out of, cancel the lease etc.

Then I have a woman interested in this apartment for two young refugees. The rent would be guaranteed be their very big and famous NGO, and they would buy the furniture as well, maybe for a smaller price, but I'd consider that charity. This would be my ideal situation. The woman promised to let me know on Monday whether things will work for them.

I also have two separate post-docs of non-EU nationality interested in the apartment, one who wants to sublease for the six months between my leaving Switzerland and the end of my rental contract, the other who may take over the whole lease.
In the case of subletting, how can I make sure I will actually get paid? He says he cannot pay for half a year upfront, but would give me checks as a guarantee. Is that actually safe? He'd also need a housing contract that I'm not sure I could give him as a subletter. He will ask his professor what kind of documents he'll need and also if I can get a guarantee through the university; do you think that will work?
Would the other non-EU postdoc even be accepted as a next tenant even if they wanted to?

I just want to make sure I do this correctly so that I will actually get rid of this apartment, but also ethically so an applicant won't end up homeless after giving up their current apartment and not getting mine.

I am sorry for asking such Switzerland-specific questions on a mainly American forum. I researched all the legalities on local sites as far as I could, but the administrative aspect is a bit difficult for me - most Swiss don't move to Japan after vacating their apartments...
posted by LoonyLovegood to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
If the NGO says go on Monday, have them take it over. If not, let it to the couple and sell or ditch your furniture. Forget the postdocs.

(I have no idea about Swiss specifics regarding non-EU nationals but the fact you need to ask so many questions about that particular aspect indicates to me that it's more trouble than it's worth if you have other less complex options)
posted by corvine at 2:41 AM on November 26, 2016

Is there a reason you're seeking out a subletter instead of simply going to your landlord and saying that you found a replacement tenant that would serve out the remainder of your lease agreement, please assign the lease to them and let me out of the current lease?

Trying to deal with subletters and getting people to pay you so you can then turnaround and pay the landlord while you're on the opposite side of the world is unnecessarily complicating things and creating headaches for everyone, your landlord included. This conversation is best had with your landlord, rather than you trying to speculate whether your landlord would take them or not.
posted by Karaage at 4:35 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

The couple just cancelled on me, and the NGO say they need more time. What now?

The reason I'm considering a sublet is because I wasn't sure I'd even find a new tenant. And my landlord is... not helpful.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 4:40 AM on November 26, 2016

I think clarity is still needed with your landlord as to how this is going to work. Or at least a clearly worded letter to him stating how you plan to proceed and ask that he let you know if he has any objections. If at the end of the day for whatever reason you can't get the landlord to assign the lease to the new tenant and release you from the lease agreement, if you go the sublet route you should try to make sure the landlord is okay with however you're proceeding.

Do you think the landlord would have any objections at all as to who you're subletting to? The NGO sounds great, but, would the landlord have problems with refugees staying in the apartment? It's not clear to me what sort of conversation you've had with your landlord regarding this process.
posted by Karaage at 4:54 AM on November 26, 2016

The law is this: No landlord is legally allowed to disciminate against tenants based on nationality etc. as long as the rent is guaranteed. Subletting needs approval from the housing company, though.
I have sent in my cancellation letter telling them I will provide a new tenant to be let out of paying rent, and they sent a reply saying that was fine. I have not yet asked about subtenants because the person in change seems to actually kind of hate me based on previous interactions.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 5:02 AM on November 26, 2016

My suggestions (American based,so ymmv):

New tenant who will take over the lease is the best possible option, if it's available to you.

Prioritize possible subletters by how easy it makes things for you, then pick the first one that's acceptable to your landlord. Don't go out of your way figuring things out for other people - if the postdocs are serious about subletting, they will do their own legwork and understand that you can't guarantee your landlord's future decisions.

Not getting paid is a risk of subletting, so often sublets request a slightly higher security deposit from the subtenant, if that is legal. I live in a building with a lot of overseas landlords and often they have the tenants deposit the rent into a local bank account they can manage online, with online bill pay, if that's an option for you. I've known Canadians to provide post-dated monthly checks but that wouldn't work here, not sure about Switzerland.

Then, you just have to accept that you've done the best you can to meet your obligations and go off and live your life. It will most likely all work out fine, but the consequences if it doesn't are minor. You don't own this apartment. "Tenant moves in with new spouse during lease" is something landlords just have to deal with as the cost of doing business.
posted by sputzie at 5:20 AM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I really hate to threadsit, but I just want to say that the consequences of not finding anyone would be 9000 CHF in rent owed...
posted by LoonyLovegood at 11:01 AM on November 26, 2016

You decided to go ahead with a very significant life change at somewhat short notice. And you appear to have entered contractual arrangements that are not compatible with such decisions. So you may need to concede something somewhere. Either you lose some/all of the money or you delay. You may not get to have your cake and eat it in this case. Perhaps making peace with that as plan B would help reduce the panic you seem to be in.
Consider some of the less perfect solutions. Short-term sublets that cover only some of the period, sublets that don't cover all the rent etc. After considering the deposit and assuming you can flog some/all of this furniture how much money would you actually owe? How much rent does your sublet have to make? And do you actually plan to move back to Switzerland i.e. would your defaulting and getting a Betreibungsregister entry really be a problem?

Presumably you have explored if there are ways to get out of a lease if you leave the country but if not do that. There may be a provision that would help you break the lease early in that case. As I understand it you can get out of pretty much all other fixed term contracts in Switzerland early by presenting your deregistration document but I have never looked into tenancy agreements. My feeling is it'd be more complicated than getting out of your internet service provider agreement but perhaps something can be done.

In any case, what is your landlord going to do when you leave other than sue you. That will be quite painful and costly for them if you're in Japan so you may be in a better position to negotiate than you think. Especially if they are a private landlord and you are willing to concede something yourself. But you may have to stop being nice about it and be willing to at least threaten to break the rules, if not actually beak them.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:32 PM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

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