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Renting For Members

How Switzerland is set to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
How Switzerland is set to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants
Under the new law, landlords would have more rights to evict tenants. Image by Sam Williams from Pixabay

After the National Council in March, the Council of States has this week accepted two projects aimed at toughening Swiss tenancy law — in favour of landlords and at the detriment of tenants.

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Tenants in Switzerland are already facing difficult times, as rent hikes for many apartments will go into effect in October.

Now another setback is on the horizon: MPs, mostly from from the right-wing and right-centre parties, have voted to introduce two further measures that would place additional burdens on renters.

They are:

Easier eviction

Currently, if landlords want to evict their tenants, they must demonstrate an “urgent” need to use the property.

Under proposed law, however, lease terminations by landlords will be much easier; all the owner has to do is to claim a “current” rather than “urgent” need to have their dwellings vacated by tenants.

The reason for this move is that landlords must have the right to reclaim the property they own, when they need to do so, without jumping through too many legal hoops, as is presently the case, according to the motion. 

However, this move, according to socialist MP Lisa Mazzone, who opposed the change, would be “a pretext for terminating the contract and then increasing the rent,” for subsequent tenants, without waiting for the obligatory ‘notice period’ to do so.

READ ALSO: When can my landlord legally increase the rent? 

For the Swiss Tenants Association (ASLOCA), the new legislation, if ultimately passed, would “unbalance lease law to the detriment of tenants. It aims to facilitate evictions and subsequently rent increases when concluding the new lease contract,” said ASLOCA’s president Carlo Sommaruga.

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Sublets

In principle, all tenants have the right to sublet their apartment for indefinite period of time, but only on the condition that the landlord is informed and agrees to this arrangement.

If the agreement with the sub-tenant is above board — that is, if it pretty much matches your own contract — then you should have no problem getting the green light.

READ ALSO: Can I sublet my rented apartment in Switzerland?

Under new proposed legislation, however, the landlord may refuse a sublet which lasts more than two years.

Also, if the subtenant’s status changes — for instance, if they get married or divorced — the owner must be notified and could be allowed to terminate the contract on this basis.

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What’s next?

Both proposals are now ready for final votes on the last day of the autumn parliamentary session, that is on September 29th.

But as both houses of the parliament have already approved both motions, the final vote is just a formality.

On Monday, the Tenants Association ASLOCA said it will launch a referendum, should these two revisions become law in a bid to overturn them. 

“In these times of skyrocketing rents and charges, this concerted attack by the real estate lobby against tenants is unacceptable,” Sommaruga said. “These deteriorations in tenancy law are intolerable.”

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