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.
How can I find an accommodation?
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 estate agents operating in your preferred region or the commune where you are planning to settle, as most communes keep an updated list of vacant apartements in their area.
Consult the websites specialized in the provision of accommodation:
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.
What are the conditions for renting an apartment?
A rental contrat can either be 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.
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.
In most cases you must 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, swisscaution, that will guarantee your rent without the need for a bank deposit.
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 go to Insurance.
Should a conflict arise between yourself and the landlord during the period of your contract or on its termination, we advise you to contact a tenant's assocation which will provide you with valuable assistance on payment of a small fee.
Those Tenant's associations are active in different parts of Switzerland:
Miterinnen- und Miterverband in the German speaking part of Switzerland
Asloca in the French speaking part of Switzerland
Associazione Svizzera Inquilini in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland