Houston, nous avons un problème!

Have you ever had problems with your apartment since you moved to Switzerland? I certainly did more times than I can remember.

My experience as a tenant in Montreal and Munich really wasn't all that and a bag of chips (really like that 90's expression!). Had I known how responsive and helpful my régie would be here, in Geneva, I would have called much earlier to fix the various problems I've had in my flat.

Most régies want a prompt solution to their tenants' problems. They want to keep you happy and satisfied (especially considering the ridiculously high rent you are paying them every month!).

If you make the effort to contact them in French, you'll get even better and quicker results. Trust me!

Here are 5 Great Tips to Talk About The Problems in Your Apartment in French

Learn how report and discuss about the problems you're experiencing in your apartment with your régie.

1. Introduce Yourself

Start your call with a clear introduction of who you are and where you live.

  • Bonjour, je m'appelle Isabelle Nicolas et j'habite au 1234, rue de l'Appartement, à Genève.

          (Good morning, my name is... and I live on..., in Geneva.)

  • Bonjour, je suis Monsieur Williams de l'appartement no 30, au 666, chemin de l'Angleterre, à Nyon. 

          (Good afternoon, this is Mr. Williams from flat no..., address, city.)

2. Explain Why You're Calling

When explaining the situation you are dealing with, make sure to use the right vocabulary and express yourself with clear, simple sentences.

  • Je vous appelle parce que j'ai un problème avec mon/ma/mes... (I'm calling you because I have a problem with my...)
  • Il n'y a pas de... en ce moment. (There is no... at the moment.)
  • Le/la/l'... ne fonctionne/marche pas depuis hier. (The (singular)... hasn't been working since yesterday.)
  • Les... sont brisés depuis une semaine. (The (plural)... have been broken for a week.)
  • le chauffage (the heating)
  • l'eau chaude (the hot water)
  • le micro-ondes (the microwave)
  • le four (the oven)
  • le lave-vaisselle (the dishwasher)
  • le lave-linge ou la machine à laver (the washing machine)
  • le sèche-linge (the dryer)
  • les fenêtres (the windows)
  • la porte (the door)
  • le plafond (the ceiling)
  • le plancher (the floor)

3. Practice Beforehand

Write your sentences down and practice them out loud before you make the call. Yes, you'll get that same funny feeling you had in your stomach when you ordered your first pizza as a teenager, but hang in there. You'll be fine!

When in doubt when it comes to pronunciation, don't hesitate to refer to my special post on pronunciation as well as the Larousse Online, the French Oxford Dictionnary!

4. Stay Calm & Polite

Les Suisses romands are generally known as polite, kind, and respectful people. If the régie's employee ask you to repeat what you said, don't get frustrated or discouraged. Repeat it clearly and slowly. Be patient, kind, and polite. You'll always get better results that way. At the end of your call, make sure to thank the person who helped you.

  • Il faudrait réparer le/la/l'/les... (The... should be repaired = needs fixing.)
  • Il serait important de remplacer le/la/l'/les... (It would be important to replace the...)
  • Est-ce que ce serait possible de régler le tout aujourd'hui? (Would it be possible to fix this today?)
  • C'est urgent.  Il fait très froid dans l'appartement. (It's urgent. It's really cold in the flat.)
  • Merci beaucoup pour votre aide, Monsieur. (Thank you very much for your help, Sir.)
  • Je vous remercie par avance pour votre réactivité, Madame. (Thank you very much in advance for your responsiveness, Madam.)

5. Get Some Extra Help!

Here is a little list of accommodation related services in and around Geneva. I thought the document on Noise & Neighbors was particularly useful and enlightening. I hope you won't have to refer to it too often!

For your information, it is very similar in Canton de Vaud.

If you feel like a few things could be improved in your apartment, don't wait any longer and call your régie to get the support you deserve.

It will make a big difference in your everyday life.

I hope you now have more tools to express yourself in French in order to find solutions to your problems with your régie!


As a native Québécoise, born to a Franco-Belgian family, now living in Nyon with her two children, Isabelle is no stranger to the expat reality! Trained as a professional opera singer, her passion for arts and languages led her to become an ambassador of the French language & francophone culture, i.e. a French Teacher!

She founded Prêt à Parler in January 2015. Since then she's been hard at work helping native and non-native English-speaking expats make French part of their everyday life! Prêt à Parler's mission is based on what Isabelle does best: helping busy professionals and parents improve their French language skills by providing a high quality, eco-friendly, fun, no-nonsense approach to learning French online!

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