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Swiss to place cap on second homes

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Swiss to place cap on second homes
Tim Snell (File)
10:47 CET+01:00

In future, only 20 percent of residences in any one community in Switzerland can be used as second homes, voters decided on Sunday.

It is not yet clear what the exact definition of “second home” will be, newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported. For example, it is uncertain whether the definition will include student accommodation or holiday apartments rented out on a temporary basis. 

The initiative was originally launched to counter the problem of so-called “cold beds”, where communities are affected by large proportions of local properties sitting empty for most of the year.

What this means for the immediate future is that no further permissions to build second homes will be given in areas where this 20 percent limit has already been reached, Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported. This will immediately affect 135 of the 176 municipalities in Graubünden, a popular tourist destination.

Exceptions to the new regulations will be defined by a working group to be set up by Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard.

Some of the exceptions under discussion are that existing second homes may be sold as such, that areas in need of greater development may be exempted from the new law, and that properties rented out for longer than a pre-defined minimum number of weeks may also be allowed to sidestep the legislation. 

The vote will have the most dramatic effect in tourist areas, although Leuthard hopes that the ban will create greater business for hotels.

But many are dubious about how the new regulations will be implemented. It is anticipated that the new rules will place considerable administrative burden on the municipalities.

“I have the impression that it is almost not feasible," Emanuel Schlaeppi, Mayor of Grindelwald, who particularly fears a rise in litigation, told newspaper Tages Anzeiger.

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