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Strict Airbnb rules to stay in place in Switzerland

The Swiss government has decided against implementation of changes to rental rules which would have made it easier for people to sublet properties using online property platforms like Airbnb.

Strict Airbnb rules to stay in place in Switzerland
Nearly 900,000 people rented apartments in Switzerland using Airbnb in 2017. Photo: AFP

Under the plans, it would have become easier for tenants to sublet properties on a repeated basis over a given period, with landlords only having to provide permission on a single occasion.

The government had argued that such a system made sense in the context of rise of online rental platforms and would slash red tape requirements for both landlords and tenants.

In 2017, around 900,000 people rented apartments in Switzerland using Airbnb – up 300 percent in three years, according to company figures.

But after a consultation period with interested parties, the government said on Friday there would be no changes to the current rules. Instead, tenants will continue to have to obtain a landlord’s permission every time they wish to rent out a property using platforms like Airbnb.

The decision comes despite the fact that the rule changes were backed by most Swiss cantons, the Swiss tenants association, the Swiss federation of trade unions and the left-wing Socialist Party and, with reservations, by the centre-right Christian Democrats.

Read also: Geneva limits Airbnb rentals to 60 nights a year

By contrast, the rule change was rejected by Swiss political parties, by the Swiss home owner’s association (HEV) and by hotel industry groups.

Swiss industry group SGV, which represents small and medium-sized enterprises argued during the consultation process that the move towards relaxing the rules would mean fewer apartments for long-term rentals.

This opinion was echoed by the Swiss Hotel Association which also stated that online holiday apartments provided unfair competition for traditional accommodation providers and could lead to 'overtourism'.

Read also: Eight things you need to know before you rent in Switzerland

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HOLIDAY RENTALS

How to avoid holiday housing scams in Switzerland

With the summer vacation just around the corner, the Swiss government has issued a scam alert, urging caution when renting holiday homes.

How to avoid holiday housing scams in Switzerland
It's beautiful but is it really yours? Photo by Michael Jasmund on Unsplash

You have rented a beautiful villa overlooking the ocean and can’t wait to spend relaxing holidays there.

Should you be suspicious that this dream home doesn’t really exist?

It probably is real, but it may not be yours. In other words, when you get to your destination, you may find out that your accommodation — assuming you actually get one — looks nothing like the photo you saw online.

Each year, scores of vacationers fall for this scam —the reason why Swiss police and Swiss Crime Prevention unit (PSC) have launched a national campaign Thursday, alerting the population to be cautious of holiday real estate offers that may be too tempting.

The warning, which is part of a larger prevention campaign devoted to cyber scams in general, features a clip showing a couple departing on vacation, after paying a deposit on a villa, only to discover after arrival that the house doesn’t exist and their money is gone.

In most cases, the scammers take photos and descriptions of real ads from other, genuine, sites and drastically lower the price in order to lure potential victims. Then they ask for a deposit to secure the reservation, never to be heard of  — much less seen — again.

“This type of scam results in the loss of significant amounts of money. In addition, crooks can use personal information provided by the victim to commit other offenses”, the PSC said.

How can you avoid falling into this trap?

The PCS urges house seekers to never trust a person they only met on the Internet, and try to verify the address and the existence of the accommodation by checking if the advertisement appears on other, credible, sites.

Most importantly, never pay a deposit without being sure of the landlord’s identity and credibility.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

READ MORE: How to avoid the most common online scams in Switzerland

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