The current tight market for vacant apartments means that it can be relatively difficult to find the perfect match, above all if you plan to settle in Geneva or Zurich, so make sure to start looking for your place to live well in advance. Consult the websites specialized in the provision of accommodation or contact the estate agents operating in your preferred region.
Consult the accommodation or property pages published in the newspapers and official gazettes/advertisers. Most Swiss newpapers regularly publish lists of vacant accommodation. Contact the commune where you are planning to settle, as most communes keep an updated list of vacant apartements in their area.
Rent covers the apartment itself and any additional rooms or other living space (such as a storage area, shared laundry room, yard and/or balcony) available for the tenant's use. It also includes the costs that are shared among all the tenants in the building, such as building maintenance and electricity for the common areas of the building. These shared costs are different from utilities.
The Swiss Federal Statistical Office's survey provide information on rental prices and the type of owners of rented dwellings. Please note that the average prices do not contain extra charges or heating costs and that the rental costs may vary considerably, depending on the region and canton and on whether you are looking for an apartment in the town centre or out in the countryside.
Before installing yourself in the apartment that you have found, you will first have to sign a rental contract which will correspond to one of two types: either a fixed-term contract or one of indefinite duration. In the second case, the contract is tacitly renewed until the notification of notice of termination is served by the tenant or the landlord. In most cases you must additionally pay a guarantee deposit into a frozen bank account, equivalent as a rule to 2-3 months’ rent. You will recover the sum with interest when you leave the apartment, provided there is no conflict between you and the landlord as regards the condition of the premises on your departure. Some landlords and agencies also require a surety guaranteeing that a third party can pay your rent should you get into financial difficulties. There is a rental guarantee insurance company that will guarantee your rent without the need for a bank deposit.
If you wish to terminate your rental contract, you must as a rule respect the time limits for notice indicated in your contract. You may, however, give notice before the time limit under certain conditions, in which case you must submit yourself a list of solvent tenants to the owner.
Finally, on the handing over of the keys to the apartment as well as on your departure, a detailed list of the condition of the premises must be drawn up together with the landlord or his representative. If it turns out that damage has been caused on the premises, the owner may retain all or part of the guarantee deposit.
Should a conflict arise between yourself and the landlord during the period of your contract or on its termination, we advise you to contact the Mieterinnen- und Mieterverband, the Asloca or the Associazione Svizzera Inquilini which will provide you with valuable assistance on payment of a small fee.
Personal liability insurance
Personal liability insurance is an insurance that protects you against damage claims made by third parties. For example, the insurance will cover damage you cause to a rented apartment. Since any damage claims may become expensive, most landlords require tenants to provide proof of liability insurance; for more information : Insurance.