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Culture / Expat Life / News

The Swiss Rental Market – Are Personal Connections Needed?

In many Swiss cities one can fine massive lines at apartment viewings. Landlords are demanding ridiculously large rental deposits and there is a huge gap in rents for those who already have a place to live and those currently looking. So, our question is for the Swiss rental market, are personal connections needed?

A serious shortage of rental properties

Despite the fact there is a huge amount of construction going on, the rental vacancy rate is increasingly low in areas close to city centres. Cities like Zurich are very attractive due to their high quality of life, short commutes and strong growth.
For the moment the luxury sector seems to be immune from the rental crisis. But for the other sectors it seems that supply will not be able to keep up with demand.

What’s the solution?

Ensuring that landlords comply with tenancy laws that prohibit extortionate rents and the construction of more affordable housing are some of the ideas being considered.

New tenants have 30 days of moving into property to find out if their rents are too high. If they find out they are paying significantly higher rent than previous tenants they have a right to complain but only if they needed to move into the home due to a property shortage or if they are suffering personal hardship.

Is it tougher for expats to find an apartment?

Personal connections are quite important in Switzerland. On many occasions, when someone is moving out of a property, the tenant recommends people that may be interested to take over the place. The recommended person in this case has good chance of getting the place.

Discrimination also exists unfortunately. People with foreign-sounding names, elderly, with large families or from different ethnicities are not considered ‘good tenants’ and are turned away many

What paperwork is demanded of prospective tenants?

Typical application forms with the standard questions about marriage status are needed in most cases. You must also declare your debt status (Betreibungsregisterauszug/extrait du registre des poursuites) and provide your employer’s contact details and to say whether you are on a temporary or permanent contract.

Additional Costs

Swiss rental agreements can be tricky with so-called additional costs (Nebenkosten/loyer). For example, heating and hot water are usually paid through additional costs and will depend on usage. They may be requested to be paid in advance (akonto/par acompte). Tenants are invoiced once per year and the balance is then either paid out or returned depending on the final amount.

Any additional expenditure must be specified in the rental contract. It’s best to ask the previous tenant how much the bills were in the previous year.

Termination notice

Termination notice in Switzerland is normally three months. Things may differ a little in each canton. In Zurich for example, April 1st and October 1st are the usual dates for the end of contracts.

If one would like to move outside the usual fixed dates it’s best to recommend a suitable new tenant. There are rental contracts which allow for allow for termination of the contract at the end of every month but three months’ notice must be given.

Grievances with a landlord?

If one has a grievance, they must file a complaint with the arbitration authorities. Solutions are normally considered by the lawyers and representatives that work there.

Overall, Switzerland is a great place to live.  This  is partly why it’s difficult to find a rental property. However, many businesses will help their new employees with the search.

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