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Under what circumstances can a Swiss landlord evict you?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Under what circumstances can a Swiss landlord evict you?
Evictions and extreme measure. Photo: Pixabay

Being ordered to leave your apartment is every tenant’s worst nightmare. What can prompt a landlord to take this drastic step, and what can you do about it in Switzerland?

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In many people’s minds, evictions only happen in extreme situations, like not paying your rent or being a tenant from hell.

But recent events have shown this is not always the case.

Swiss news media has widely reported the recent eviction of 49 tenants in the town of Windish in Aargau, who have been ordered to leave their dwellings to make room for asylum seekers. 

In a separate case, on Friday a tenant in Seegräben, canton Zurich, was also given his marching orders so that his five-room apartment can be used to house refugees.

This may seem like a radical measure in a law-abiding country like Switzerland — and it is.


However, according to 20 Minutes news platform, in both cases there were “special constraints” that led to evictions.

Since federal refugee facilities are full, “the government requires each canton to take in a certain number of refugees. Then, everyone organises themselves as they want.”

In case of Windish, the owner of the apartments reached an agreement with the municipality. In Seegräben, the apartment is owed by the city, which is forced to find accommodations for asylum seekers wherever it can.

Each of these tenants must now find another accommodation, although the timeline they got for moving out has not been made public.

Should you fear being evicted to make room for someone else?

This is very unlikely, though not totally impossible, as the above examples show.

It is far more likely to be evicted for other reasons, the most common being not paying your rent.

Obviously, the landlord doesn’t want to keep on an unpaying tenant, especially since the housing market is tight in many parts of Switzerland, and they could easily find someone ready and willing to pay rent.

In such a case the landlord could take some drastic measures, which are outlined in your rental contract.

READ MORE: Reader question: What happens if I don't pay my Swiss bills on time?

Not having money to pay rent is not the landlord's concern. Image by Andrew Khoroshavin from Pixabay 

This is what could happen

Unless you reach an amicable agreement with your landlord prior to the time of the month when your rent is due, expect to receive a registered letter reminding you to pay your rent within a specified period.

If you don’t, the second reminder will be sent, with a notification that, in addition to the original missed rent, you will have to pay quarterly advance payments of rent and accessory charges.

In case the rent still isn’t paid, the third letter you receive will include a threat of termination of your lease if all the arrears (and likely interest as well) are not paid within 10 days.

If this happens, the landlord will likely initiate eviction proceedings through the housing court in your jurisdiction (Mietgericht in German, Tribunal des baux et loyers in French, and tribunale degli affitti in Italian).

This is a general procedure, though it could vary from one canton to another.

This doesn’t, however, mean you must leave your dwellings immediately.

According to Swiss Tenants Association (ASLOCA), “if the eviction is valid, the tenant has the right to an extension — that is to say, an additional period in order to be able to find a new accommodation.” 

The extension period is determined based on various circumstances, such as the situation on the housing market, as well as the personal, family, and financial situation of the tenant.


How can you avoid being evicted for non-payment of rent?

These days more people than usual struggle to make ends meet, especially in view of higher, inflation-driven prices of many consumer goods, as well as soaring energy and health insurance costs.

That is nothing to be ashamed of, and help is available.

Wherever in Switzerland you live, there are counselling services for people who have fallen on hard times. These are numbers to call in German speaking cantons and French ones.

It is important to settle these matters because having a judgment against you, or a history of trouble-making, will leave a  stain on your record, which will hinder you from renting another apartment, getting a credit card, mortgage or another kind of loan.

And if you are a foreigner, legal problems and debts can prevent you from obtaining Swiss citizenship. 

READ MORE : Citizenship: How personal debt could stop you from becoming Swiss


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