Renting For Members

Pigeon poo and foul odours: How you can get rent reductions in Switzerland

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Pigeon poo and foul odours: How you can get rent reductions in Switzerland
If you have these on your roof, you may get your rent lowered. Image by Markéta Klimešová from Pixabay

Depending on where in Switzerland you live, the price of housing could be (no pun intended) through the roof. But you could, in some cases, be entitled to rent reduction.

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Let’s start with pigeons.

As Swiss media reported, a Zurich tenant has recently complained about having to incessantly clean pigeon droppings from her balcony. 

The birds reportedly have built nests on the building’s roof — as pigeons tend to do — and dirty the balconies underneath.

This, according to Fabian Gloor, an attorney for the Swiss Tenants Association, “can be seen as a defect in the rental property” and could entitle the tenant to get their rent reduced until the problem is solved.

However, the landlord could be liable ONLY if you don't actually 'encourage' the pigeons by feeding them.

What other inconveniences could be sufficient reasons to lower your rent?

Switzerland’s tenancy law (as well as common sense) stipulate that tenants have the right to feel safe and comfortable in their rented accommodations.

Anything that infringes on this right and is reasonably considered a nuisance must be remedied by the landlord. If this is not done within a mutually defined reasonable time, the tenant qualifies for rent reduction.

These are actual nuisances that tenants had taken to conciliation authorities — and won.

Too cold

In the winter, the indoor temperature should be between 20C and 21C from 7 am to 11 pm. Tenants who complained the temp in their apartment was set too low received a 20-percent rent cut for the months in question.

Poor sealing

The windows in the apartment were not airtight enough and water seeped into the bedroom, causing cracks in the floor. This tenant also received a 20-percent rent reduction.


Ugly wallpaper

The tenant complained that the wallpaper in the flat was stained and peeling. The ruling: an 8-percent reduction in rent.

Foul odours

Unpleasant smells emanating from a downstairs restaurant resulted in a 20-percent rent cut for all of the building’s residents.

Defective ventilation

The tenant who complained that ventilation in her kitchen was not working properly, causing grease deposits and unpleasant odours, had her rent slashed by 15 percent.

Not enough daylight

In one case, tenants complained that a new building that had been constructed very close to theirs blocked the daylight. They were able to get a 10-percent reduction.


But that’s not all

Other common nuisances, not repaired or replaced within a reasonable time, also led to lower rents.

Among them are faulty appliances, which broke down through normal ‘wear and tear’ rather than through tenants’ misuse. Non-functioning elevators that remain out of order for a period of time have also resulted in for price reduction.

Other cases that are subject of the conciliation procedures and where tenants are usually in the right, involve noise complaints.

Most common among them are noises due to renovation work. Complainants obtained reductions ranging from 10 to 35 percent, depending on the extent to which they had been inconvenienced.

READ ALSO: Noisy construction work in Switzerland: What are my rights?


How can you get your rent lowered — or at least try to?

If you are tired of cleaning up bird poop, smelling foul odours, or dealing with other issues that prevent you from enjoying your dwellings, the best way to do this (at least initially) is amicably, through a letter to the landlord detailing your complaints.

If your grievances fall on deaf ears, then you can take the next step. This involves getting the neutral third party involved: you can seek resolution from the cantonal arbitration board.

Each canton has a conciliation authority that mediates in disputes between tenants and landlords.

READ ALSO: How to solve a dispute with your Swiss landlor


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