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Reader question: Can I sublet my rented apartment in Switzerland?

If you need to vacate your home temporarily but plan to return there, you may think sub-leasing your apartment is a good solution. But what does the Swiss law (and your landlord) say about it?

Reader question: Can I sublet my rented apartment in Switzerland?
Make sure you sign a contact with sub-tenant and show it to the landlord. Image by aymane jdidi from Pixabay

If you are a tenant in Switzerland, you know that your rental agreement lists a number of rules and regulations you must never break.

For instance, it defines your rent, the term of your lease (limited or open-ended), the amount of your security deposit, as well as your other rights and obligations.

Swiss subletting law allows someone to sublet their apartment if they are “temporarily unable to use their rental property due to unforeseen circumstances”

What about subletting your flat to others if you are away?

In principle, all tenants have the right to sublet their apartment, but only on the condition that the landlord is informed and agrees to this arrangement.

Under no circumstances should you put another tenant in your apartment on the sly, as this will anger the landlord, who could then terminate your lease and demand the rent money you made from your sublease. 

This is how to do this the right way.

Swiss law requires that you get permission from your landlord before you sublet your apartment.

Additionally, you must let the landlord review the subletting agreement.

If your agreement with the sub-tenant is above the board — that is, if it pretty much matches your own contract — then you should have no problem getting the green light.  

However, according to Moneyland consumer platform, your request will probably not be approved if:

  • You refuse to show the owner the subletting agreement.
  • The conditions are different from those of your own rental agreement (for instance, if you allow pets when your contract forbids them).
  • The sublease would present significant disadvantages for the landlord.

“This rule is somewhat vague, but could, for example, include rejecting a potentially destructive or disruptive subtenant,” Moneyland says. 

Keep in mind, too, that even if the apartment owner accepts the sub-lease, you, as the primary tenant, will be responsible for any material damages the person you rent to inflicts during your absence.

Likewise, you will also he held accountable if the sub-tenant doesn’t comply with house regulations relating to noise, use of laundry facilities, trash disposal / recycling, and other rules of the building.

And if another resident complains about your sub-tenant’s behaviour, that will be on you as well.

READ MORE: What damage do tenants have to pay for in Switzerland?

Consider the ‘worst case’ scenario

While most sublets go off without a hitch, don’t rent to anyone until you consider things that may, possibly, go wrong, and for which you will have to take full responsibility (besides the ones mentioned above).

If, for instance, your tenant doesn’t pay the agreed-upon rent, you will have to pay yours to the landlord anyway.

The contract between you and the sub-tenant will mention the duration of their occupancy. However, in case they move out earlier, you will have to cover the rent. And, even worse, if they refuse to move out after the lease is over (and are not paying rent), you will find yourself in a real nightmare situation of having a squatter in your premises.

Admittedly, that’s an extreme situation, but you have to consider all scenarios, just in case.

Because if things don’t go as planned, the landlord will go after you.

READ MORE: Tenant or landlord: Who pays which costs in Switzerland?

What about airbnb or other rental platforms?

The rules for Airbnb rentals fall within the law on subletting in Switzerland, which means the same rules as those outlined above apply.

However, most holiday rentals will not fit within this classification. 

As reported by Swiss news outlet Tages Anzeiger, the major consideration is whether or not a profit is being made on the rental when compared to the monthly rental costs. 

This applies whether you are renting one room or whether you are renting your entire flat. 

Of course, the landlord is free to consent to holiday rentals if he or she deems it fit. The above refers to the circumstances in which consent may be withdrawn or denied. 

More about these rentals can be found here: 

EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland’s rules for Airbnb rentals? 

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For members


Foreign nationals in Switzerland pay higher rents, new figures reveal

New figures are indicating a worrying housing trend: many Swiss landlords require tenants with immigration background to pay more for their accommodations.

Foreign nationals in Switzerland pay higher rents, new figures reveal

A new national study has shown that a non-immigrant couple without children pays an average of 1,550 francs in rent for a 100-square-metre flat outside of notoriously high-rent cities like Geneva and Zurich.

Foreign tenants, on the other hand, pay an average of 190 francs more per month for an apartment of the same size.

This inequality is all the more unfair because there are more poor people among foreigners than among the Swiss, MP Mustafa Atici pointed out: 13.6 percent for the former group, compared to 6.8 percent for the latter. 

But that’s not all: foreigners not only pay more per square-metre of living space, but they also live in smaller homes: their dwellings have, on average, eight square metres less surface than apartments where the Swiss live.

To counter this situation, Atici is calling on the Federal Council to make it easier for tenants to take legal action against discrimination in the housing market.

Another MP, Carlo Sommaruga, had already submitted a similar motion.

This is not a new phenomenon, as a study published a few years ago demonstrated that immigrants had more difficulty obtaining housing in general.

The study, conducted jointly by several French-speaking universities, shows in particular that people with a Turkish or Kosovar name had to provide an average of 30 percent more effort than the rest of the population to find apartments.

Earlier studies have shown that a foreign origin or a foreign-sounding name can spark discriminatory practices in other areas as well.

For instance, car insurance premiums often depend on the country of origin. 

Insurance companies justify this system by pointing out that it is based on statistics: in determining premiums, they consider criteria such as age, driving record, car type, and, yes, also nationality.

All these factors influence the probability of an accident, and data indicates that certain foreigners are involved in more accidents than others.

“If statistics show that people who hold a certain citizenship tend to make more claims or be involved in more incidents than people of other nationalities, those statistics may influence the premiums charged,” according to Moneyland price comparison platform.

READ MORE : Why foreigners in Switzerland pay higher car insurance premiums 

And there is more: the foreign-name bias also spills into the employment market.

An analysis by the Swiss National Science Foundation showed that, on average, foreigners were 6.5 percent less likely than Swiss nationals to be contacted by recruiters for an interview. 

“This discrimination was particularly pronounced among immigrants from the Balkans, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, who often have to battle prejudice”, said Daniel Kopp, an economist at the Swiss Institute for Business Cycle Research.

READ MORE: Jobs in Switzerland: Foreigners ‘less likely to be hired than Swiss nationals’