GENEVA Renters of the world unite! Switzerlands Federal Court has sent a strong signal, according to one lawyer, to landlords across the country (and beyond??) when it ruled in favor of a Geneva tenant who claimed she was being gouged on her monthly rent. The plaintiff won the right to a 70% reduction on her rent when the judged ruled that the monthly price should be calculated according to what the owner originally paid for the property.
Here are the facts of the case: the woman moved into the two-room, 48-square-meter (517 sq-ft) flat in 2004, and within the legal deadline of 30 days she contested the monthly rent of 1,500 Swiss francs ($1,650). Her landlord had acquired the property in 1988 by buying a share of the company that owned it for 79,500 francs ($87,500).
Return on investment should be the basis for determining how high the rent should be, not the going rental rates in the neighborhood, read the ruling, according to the local paper Tribune de Genève. The federal judge reduced the rent by 1,090 francs to 410 francs.
Felicitas Huggenberger, general manager of the Zurich Tenants Association (MV), said that the decision showed that having the courage to contest a starting rent is worth it. The court decision applies to all Switzerland, where tenants can contest their rent within 30 days of moving in. But the tenant must be able to document key figures about the property in order to make a case. The difficulty is establishing proof, says Huggenberger.
Read the original article in German
Photo - Jean-Michel Just
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