disputing ancillary fees: your rights

Nov 24, 2023.

What must an ancillary fee statement include? Which fees are actually permitted? And what should you do if your ancillary fee statement is excessive? Our article tells you everything you need to know about disputing your ancillary fees. Find out more about deadlines and your entitlements, or use our practical template to write a letter to your landlord.


Tenants receive ancillary fee statements every year, and they can sometimes be surprisingly high. If this is the case, it’s worth taking a closer look and, if necessary, contesting the ancillary fee statement. Possible errors in ancillary fees include inaccurate information, incorrect meter readings and impermissible cost types.


What counts as ancillary fees?

Article 257a Para. 1 of the Code of Obligations legally defines ancillary fees as fees that tenants pay to the landlord in relation to the use of the rental property. Simply put, these are usually various consumption and cleaning costs relating to the rented apartment or house. Important: ancillary fees may only include actual expenses incurred by the landlord. These must be itemised in the rental agreement, otherwise, you can dispute them. Most rental agreements typically list costs for water and wastewater, yard and building cleaning and lift maintenance and electricity as ancillary fees. Electricity for communal spaces is also often included in ancillary fees. However, anything that is not expressly stated in the rental agreement cannot be asserted in the ancillary fee statement.


Useful information and tips on ancillary fees billing

The landlord must send tenants an unsolicited statement of ancillary fees as specified in the rental agreement every year. This includes a detailed list of the calculated ancillary fees. If you feel that the ancillary fee statement is incorrect, you can dispute the ancillary fees: you have the right to contest any calculation errors or unjustified fees.


What can you do about an excessive ancillary fee statement?

Take the following steps if you feel that your ancillary fees are too high:

  • First, check the individual items carefully and also compare them with previous years’ statements. Also check the meter numbers: do these match those in previous statements, or has there been a mix-up?
  • Compare the statement with the ancillary fees specified in your rental agreement.
  • If the statement contains errors to your detriment, report them to the landlord immediately and request a corrected bill. This should always be done in writing and sent by registered mail so that you have proof of sending.
  • If the landlord does not respond to your request, you may still be able to resolve the disputed ancillary fees out of court. The first step is to contact the competent arbitration board. You will not be charged for this.
  • It can also be helpful to seek legal advice with experience in tenancy law.


Disputing an ancillary fee statement: DOWNLOADABLE TEMPLATE

You can use our practical template if you would like to dispute your ancillary fee statement. Simply download it and enter your personal details. Also list any items on which you require additional clarification from the landlord in the template. This takes just a few minutes, and everything you need to know is included in our template.



Does your rental agreement set a deadline for disputing ancillary fees, or have you discovered an error in an eight-year-old statement while sorting through old papers? In both cases, you are still free to assert your rights. Even if you have already paid ancillary fees in error, you can still claim them back even after several years.


Disputing an ancillary fee statement retroactively

If an ancillary fee statement contains an error in favour of the tenant, the landlord can assert their claims retroactively up to five years after the statement date. If the statement was submitted late, then the actually required statement date is taken as the start of the claim period. However, there is no such claim deadline for errors in favour of the landlord: even after many years, you can still dispute your inflated or incorrect ancillary fee statement retroactively. If your rental agreement specifies a different claim deadline, this is not valid. However, ancillary fees paid in error can only be reclaimed from the landlord for up to ten years.


Fortuna Legal Protection Insurance – a subsidiary of Generali Switzerland – has been helping customers to access justice for 50 years. During this time, it has grown significantly and now applies the expertise and experience of over 100 employees in 31 branches of law.