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Property Letting

Switzerland - Property Letting

If you wish to become a landlord, you should familiarise yourself with the information available from the Swiss Association of Landlords (Schweizerischer Hauseigentümerverband: HEV Schweiz). Members of HEV have access to legal advice and special offers on services. They also have detailed free online guides on each aspect of property rental.

Every rental agreement will involve a lease, which for peace of mind should be written even where the law does not require this. The lease must specify the duration for which the tenant will occupy the property, the amount of the monthly rent and the deposit, when payments will be expected, and any other conditions or prohibitions such as whether pets are permitted. It is advisable to have the contract drawn up by a legal professional, particularly if you are not fluent in the language in your region. Tenancy laws in Switzerland support the rights of the tenant over those of the landlord and a well-informed tenant may contest clauses in the agreement if these are not completely fair and clear.

You should always obtain a security deposit, which can be no greater than 3 months rent, and this will be held in a bank account in the name of the tenant. Additionally, you can ask for the rent to be paid each month in advance.

You may find it easier to work in conjunction with a letting agency who will vet potential tenants and take care of all day-to-day administration. Letting agents are also familiar with local laws and regulations, and will be able to advise on appropriate rates in line with the current rental market in your area. Rents can be increased at the end of a fixed-term tenancy, but not normally during one unless the duration of the lease is longer than three years in which case the rent can be reviewed annually.

Ikea-style furnishings are typical in a rented property. You have the choice of whether to let furnished or unfurnished. In some areas, furnished accommodation is in demand and as it also commands a higher rent this may be a worthwhile option, especially if you would otherwise have to pay for furniture storage.

A fixed-term lease can be allowed to expire by the landlord without obligation to renew it. A renewed tenancy normally becomes classed as being of indefinite duration. This means you will be required to serve notice if wishing to end the rental agreement. The notice period is 3 months for a rented apartment or house, although you may give only 2 weeks if renting out furnished rooms. These rules do not apply in cases of non-payment of rent or neglect of the property. However, in reality, eviction can be a drawn-out process if legal intervention from the courts is required.

The tenant is likewise entitled to leave without notice in cases where the landlord fails to rectify serious problems with the property. If the tenant chooses to leave before the end of the lease but has presented you with a tenant with the financial means to take over the lease, you would not normally be able to refuse. Similarly, you would normally be expected to allow the tenant to sub-let, though must first be asked for permission.

As a landlord, you will bill the tenant for Nebenkosten, i.e. a share of the maintenance and service charges for the building, plus energy usage. You have up to a year from the tenant's leaving date to bill for outstanding charges and must provide a detailed breakdown of costs if queried. You are entitled to have the property returned in the same state as it was let, which means the tenant will be responsible for thoroughly cleaning everything and repairing any damages to walls.

In cases of a rental agreement dispute a local independent arbitration service (Mieterverband) would be used.

Useful Resources

HEV Schweiz
The Swiss Association of Landlords
HEV Schweiz, Seefeldstrasse 60, Postfach, CH 8032 Zürich
Tel: +41 (0)44 254 90 20
Email: info@hev-schweiz.ch

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