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Check your heating and ancillary costs – it's worth it!

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Have you already received your 2017 statement for heating and ancillary costs? We show you how to check this document in six easy steps , identify any mistakes, and avoid inadmissible additional demands.

If, like around 60 percent of Swiss residents, you rent your home, you could well receive your 2017 statement of heating and ancillary costs from your landlord or your property management around this time. Although the timing is not stipulated, settlement of these costs is usually scheduled for year-end or mid-year. If the actual heating and ancillary costs exceed the total payments made on account, you normally have to make a back payment. If on the other hand your total payments on account exceed the actual costs, you will receive a refund from your landlord – or the corresponding amount will be credited to your next annual statement. You won't receive a statement if your heating and ancillary costs are already included in your rental contract or if you settle these costs by way of a lump sum payment.

Checking the statement in six easy steps

When the statement of heating and ancillary costs arrives in the post, it's worth examining it carefully – especially if the costs have risen considerably versus the prior year and the landlord is demanding a corresponding back payment. When checking your annual statement of heating and ancillary costs, take it step by step:

  1. Check whether the billed positions are explicitly listed in your rental contract as ancillary costs: You only have to pay those ancillary costs that are expressly agreed as such in the rental contract.
  2. Check the details for each position: You only have to pay the costs that arise through your usage. Repairs and maintenance work (replacement of the heating burner, repainting of the stairwell, etc.) do not count as ancillary costs and may not be passed on to tenants.
  3. Check the allocation formula: Heating and ancillary costs must be split across all the rental objects of a property according to a transparent allocation formula. The type of allocation formula is not specified by law; however, it may not be changed without a formal amendment to the rental contract.
  4. Check the arithmetic of the statement of heating and ancillary costs and compare your total payments on account with the numbers on the statement.
  5. Demand access to the documents if the details on your landlord's statement of ancillary costs are inadequate. This allows you to check the costs behind the individual positions. "General operating costs" must be broken down by the landlord on request. A note of caution: Expenses that may not be settled via ancillary costs are sometimes hidden in this position!
  6. Demand a corrected statement if you discover errors. In the event of a dispute, engage the support of an expert (legal protection insurance, Swiss Tenants' Association, etc.).

Appropriate payment on account right from the start

In general, it is advisable to agree a sufficiently high payment on account when drawing up the rental contract. This generally allows you to avoid large back payments for the accrued heating and ancillary costs. You can also ask the landlord to amend the payments on account for ancillary costs for an existing rental agreement – this benefits both parties, after all.

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