An estate agent in the canton of Vaud, Roland Morisod, hit on the novel idea of holding an auction for the vacant rental properties, with the price ceiling set at 2,482 Swiss francs.
The auction over an internet site will be held on Friday, Le Matin reported.
The 3.5-room, 83-square-metre top end properties are situated in the Residence du Chateau, at the foot of Lucens’ historical castle.
“It’s a test. I am saying to people ‘tell me what you are willing to pay’,” said Morisod, explaining that he wanted to cause a bit of a stir and see what happened.
Morisod said rental prices were “crazy” in some places and he wanted to change that.
He had decided to try an approach already common in the United States – the reverse auction.
“As the current rent is the highest price possible, future tenants will not have to pay more,” he said.
Morisod believes renters could even end up saving several hundred francs on the current rental price.
The estate agent hopes the auction will encourage people to apply who would normally be scared to ask the price, and thinks it could result in a greater social mix among residents.
He denied charitable aims, saying he was “no Robin Hood” but that he hoped others might follow his example.
A property expert, Francois Hiltbrand, told Le Matin the properties in question had been advertised at too high a rent, resulting in a lack of interest from renters.
He said auctions were not likely to catch on.
General secretary of the Vaud branch of the Swiss tenants’ association asloca, Anne Baehler Bech, said she was surprised and shocked by Morisod’s action.
“The amount of rent should be determined by the owner’s costs and tenancy law,” she said. “It is not a lottery.”
More details are available on the auction’s website.