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Renting Property

Switzerland - Renting Property

The process of renting a flat or a house in Switzerland may vary depending on your destination. The most popular locations in the country are Zurich, Geneva and Basel, where the number of flat seekers surpasses the number of available spaces to rent and so the prices are higher. In general, the amount of offers and possibilities can be intimidating. The number of apartments being sold and rented at the same time is very high. Before you begin your quest of searching for the perfect place, think about the time you are willing to stay for, the location, and preferably do a little research about the areas you like. No matter how much luck you have during the search, be patient and don’t settle for just anything, especially if you are looking for a comfortable yet not too expensive place of your own for a long period of time.

The typical lease term is twelve months. Unless it is noted in the contract, it cannot be terminated by the tenant. If the contract doesn’t state the period of time, it is assumed to be for an unlimited period. In order to terminate such a contract, notice needs to be presented. Traditionally, tenancies could only start or end on a quarter day which is around 25th of March, June, September and December. This tradition is still continued in several areas of the country, so be sure to check before you make any plans. It is also not acceptable in some places to start or finish the tenancy on a quarter day in December, because of Christmas.

Depending on where you plan to live, the prices for one room in a flat or a house will range between 1000 - 1300 CHF per month, over 1500 CHF for two rooms and over 2200 CHF for three rooms. Note that the number of rooms does not include the kitchen or bathroom, but does include the living room. Long-term rentals are usually for unfurnished apartments, which sometimes can be misunderstood by expats at first glance. Swiss unfurnished flats come without furniture and often they require light fittings to be installed together with the stove/oven, a dishwasher and a washing machine. In most cases they will also come without any decorations or curtains. Although it is possible to find apartments with the above features, you should always look for those details in the offer and later in the reading of the contract. A deposit is usually required and it can be equivalent to up to three months’ rent. The deposit is meant to be returned after the contract ends, however if the apartment needs any repair work, cleaning or redecorating, part or the total amount from the deposit might not be returned. It is worth noting that common practice, which can also be a requirement listed in the contract, is to clean the flat (often with the help of professional cleaning services), fix small holes or scratches and repaint the walls when the contract is ending.

When it comes to the actual contract, possibly the most important thing that you should keep track of is the cost of the rent and all the additional payments. Things like garbage disposal, cleaning or renovating the building, heating and water consumption will be counted as additional payments. The second most important thing is the length of your contract and the amount of notice which needs to be given. This can be between three to six months. Also important are the value of the deposit and when it must be paid, conditions of possible rent increases and rules of redecorating after the previous tenant or for the future one after you leave. Pay attention to the protocol and inventory of all the things that are included inside the apartment when the contract is signed.

If you don’t plan to stay long enough to consider a long-term lease, try looking for temporary housing or a sublet, which is legal and common in Switzerland. Although it is always possible to skip renting and arrange to stay at a hotel instead, it is very pricey. Booking a flat or a house for a short time also has some benefits, such as renting a fully furnished and equipped place without any additional payments like trash disposal, cleaning the building area, arranging the internet connection, redecorating or fixing the utilities. There are a few websites that offer rental of fully furnished flats and houses for up to a whole month, such as eshortrental.com or ums.ch. Websites like airbnb.com and tripping.com might also be helpful when you’re looking for subletting and budget friendly options. Availability of a place like this for a longer period of time can however be an issue. Try to reserve the place for at least a few weeks before your arrival.

The general advice for renting a flat is to be fast, organized and prepared. Start looking as soon as you can, preferably even before you cross the border. If possible, schedule visits before you move over, and come to see the apartments in person. Be optimistic but don’t rush into things.

For more detailed information, visit Rental-law.ch.

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