Moving to Switzerland – Basics of Swiss Tenancy Law

In Switzerland, two out of three people are in rented flats. We would like to offer you an overview of the regulations to be aware of when getting into accommodations contract.

Rental Contract

Generally, anyone considering renting a set has to fill in a credit card applicatoin form. The applicant has to provide information such as age, marital status, profession, employer, salary, children, residency status, pets, etc. To verify a tenant’s financial ability to pay the rent, the landlord often requests for a potential tenant to provide an excerpt from your debt collection register (“Auszug aus dem Betreibungsregister”). The mandatory document can be acquired at the neighborhood credit agency or ordered on-line.

The landlord and tenant usually enter a written rental contract. By signing the contract, both parties are committed to the conditions of the agreement. It is therefore imperative to read and grasp the contract before signing it. It is often the situation that the landlord engages a house administration company to stay all matters regarding the rental contract and the tenants.

Rent and Ancillary Costs

The tenant has to pay rent to the landlord, usually in monthly dues.

The ancillary costs will be the remuneration for the services of the landlord or an authorized in connection with the use of the rental object. The tenant only must pay the ancillary costs if she or he has specifically decided to this with the landlord.

Deposit

Tenants tend to be requested to give a certain amount of money in advance – a so-called security deposit. The deposit can total a maximum of three months’ rent and it is paid into a special bank-account held in the tenant’s name (“Mietkautionskonto”). For the landlord, the deposit serves as a security. If the tenant moves out, the deposit is returned with interest, less any damages. Go to mietkaution for more details.

Challenge of the Rent

According to Art. 270 of the Swiss Code of Obligations, the tenant of residential or commercial premises may challenge the initial rent as abusive prior to the arbitration authority and demand its reduction, provided certain conditions are met. Grounds for challenging the rent include: (1) if the initial rent required by the landlord is significantly greater than the previous rent for the same property; or (2) if the tenant felt compelled to summarize the lease agreement on account of personal or family hardship or by reason of the conditions prevailing on the neighborhood market for such rental properties. This challenge must happen within thirty days of taking over the leased object.

Through the rental period, the tenant may contest the rent to be unfair and demand which it be reduced by another termination date if she or he has reason to believe that the landlord, because of this of substantial changes to the calculation basis, in particular a decrease in costs, will obtain an excessive return from the leased property.

In case the landlord intends to raise the rent (e.g. carrying out a renovation to the property or if the mortgage interest increases), he or she is required to complete the official form. In the event the tenant will not agree, she or he must appeal to the arbitration agency, on paper, within an interval of thirty days.

Deficiency

Swiss tenancy law distinguishes between three types of deficiency: severe, moderate and mild.

Only in the case of a moderate-heavy or severe deficiency does a tenant hold the to demand for the defect to be remedied by the landlord. As well as the right to a fix, a tenant impacted by defects is eligible for a rent reduction and compensation. In case there is a significant defect that considerably impairs or even helps it be impossible to stay in a property, the tenant can also terminate the rental contract without notice so long as the tenant has not caused the damage.

A mild defect or even small maintenance matters have minimal, if any, impact on a tenant’s living situation. For instance, a loose screw on a socket or a dripping tap. Such defects must be repaired by the tenant (Art. 259 of the Swiss Code of Obligations). The limitations of such small maintenance matters puttygen, however, aren’t regulated in the Swiss Code of Obligations. Lately, the general practice in tenancy law is that only defects which a tenant with so called standard skills can repair him or herself, with no involvement of experts, will be the responsibility of the tenant.

Termination and Extension of the Rental Contract

The rental contract can be terminated by either the tenant or the landlord. The fixed dates and periods of notice are stated in the contract.

In case the tenant terminates the contract, he or she must do so on paper and preferably by registered post. Married people have equal rights. Therefore, the letter of notice is merely valid if both spouses have signed it. In case a tenant wants to go from the rental property at the same time other than that which is stated in the contract, they might recommend a subsequent tenant who’s prepared to dominate the rental contract predicated on the same conditions. Within approximately four weeks, the landlord must verify if the appointed tenant fulfills the conditions of the contract and can pay the rent. If not, the tenant is obliged to keep to pay the rent up through the termination date of the contract.

When the landlord terminates the contract, she or he must use the official form. Regarding married people, each spouse receives an application in a separate envelope. Using cases, the landlord can terminate the contract at short notice (e.g. outstanding rent). In case a tenant receives a notice of termination which she or he doesn’t agree with, the tenant must appeal to the arbitration agency, on paper, within four weeks. The tenant is eligible for file a claim for cancellation of the termination due to abuse or even to request an extension of the tenancy in case of hardship.