Switzerland offers relief for those struggling to pay rent

Switzerland offers relief for those struggling to pay rent
Swiss tenants can delay their rent payments. Photo by Photo: FRED DUFOUR / AFP
Amid the Covid-19 epidemic in Switzerland, with hundreds of thousands of people partially unemployed, paying rent may become a major burden. But there is relief in sight.

According to State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), 750,000 people in Switzerland are partially unemployed.

This number translates to about 15 percent of the population, but the figure is even higher in Ticino, where 39 percent are working only part-time.

Since many of these people may not be able to pay their rent on time, the Federal Council has extended the deadline in the event of delayed payment  from 30 to 90 days.

This means that tenants who are late paying their rent due to coronavirus control measures will have 90 days instead of the usual 30 to settle arrears in rent payments due between March 13 and May 31.

READ MORE: UPDATE: What you need to know about the coronavirus crisis in Switzerland 

However, the Swiss Tenants Association (ASLOCA), said the extension may actually backfire because many tenants “will not be able to find the financial resources to settle the arrears without going into heavy debt”. 

The best solution to avoid debts may be “an amicable agreement between the landlord and tenant”, said Cipriano Alvarez, chief lawyer of the Federal Housing Office.

Can you still move during the pandemic?

According to most lease terms in Switzerland, you can only give notice to move  on April 1st, July 1st and October 1st. Which means you have to vacate premises a day before.

March 31st therefore  is an official moving deadline in many Swiss communities and usually means more than 50,000 people move house before the deadline.

The Federal Council said moves are still allowed if proper hygiene and social distance rules are respected. Moving companies and property managers must ensure that they are able to meet these guidelines, the government said.

But the ASLOCA said the decision to allow moves is “incomprehensible and absurd”.

“The health of tenants, especially vulnerable groups and the elderly, will not be adequately protected”, the group pointed out.

READ MORE: Tenant in Switzerland? Here's how to apply for a rent reduction


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