Frequently Asked Questions

Discover all the answers to your questions about tenancy law!

No. A written tenancy agreement is legally valid once it has been signed by the landlord and tenant.

However, if you want to get out of a tenancy agreement before the contractual end date, you can offer the management a replacement tenant, who must be solvent, of good character, and willing to take over the tenancy under the same conditions. You will only be released when the new tenant has signed a valid tenancy agreement or if the landlord agrees to terminate the agreement and release you. A replacement tenant may pull out at the last moment or may not prove solvent, despite what they may have said to you. If you have any questions, seek legal advice or contact the tenants’ association.

It is the date the letter was received by the landlord which determines whether or not it arrived on time.

Tip: Remember that registered letters are not sent on Saturdays, and should be sent as early as possible. A registered letter may be withdrawn within 7 days; this must be anticipated and the letter sent so that the seventh day still falls within this period. Also, if the termination date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday, remember that your letter should reach the landlord on the Friday or the day before the bank holiday! On the last day of the deadline, you can go to the management company to deliver it in person, but remember to get a signed acknowledgement of receipt.

No. You risk being sent a warning or even having your tenancy terminated for non-payment of rent. However, if you follow the relevant procedure, under very strict legal conditions, you can protect your rent by depositing it into a special account where it will be held until the repairs are completed. Seek legal advice or contact the tenants’ association if you have any questions.

Yes. In Switzerland, anyone can bring legal proceedings against any other person for any amount and on any grounds. They simply need to pay the fees requested by the Debt Collection Office in advance to send notice of the summons to pay. It is only commercial properties which require one or more reminders, as this avoids legal fees.

Caution: In Switzerland, the tenancy agreement is proof of the debt and allows the owner to move quickly through the debt collection process in the event of non-payment. You must seek legal advice or speak to a tenants’ association before withholding your rent or using it to offset costs incurred, regardless of the grounds.

Yes, you may do this provided that the tenancy agreement does not expressly forbid it in writing, and you only do so in moderation. You are obliged to ensure holes are carefully filled before you leave at the end of your tenancy.

No. The tenant does not have any legal priority, such as a right of first refusal (pre-emption right), and the landlord is not obliged to inform you of their intention to sell the property.

No. The tenancy agreement is automatically transferred to the new owner at the time of sale with the same rights and obligations.

Yes, in principle, but you must ask for written authorisation from the landlord beforehand, and send them all the information they request (draft sub-letting agreement and all the standard documents required for a tenancy). If they refuse, you may seek legal advice or contact the tenants’ association. You should be aware that, under all circumstances, as the principal tenant, you retain full liability towards your landlord for all the obligations arising from the tenancy and for the actions of the sub-letter (payment of rent, damage to the property, behaviour in the building).

Tip: Remember to request a civil liability insurance certificate from your sub-letter before asking them to sign the sub-letting agreement: It is recommended to draw up a written tenancy agreement and to have a guarantee for the rent, either using a bank guarantee or by requesting a deposit.

No. In the event of a death, all of the deceased’s rights and obligations are transferred to their heirs. The heirs take the place of the tenant in the tenancy agreement. If they do not want to keep the apartment, the heirs do have a right of extraordinary termination, which enables them to terminate the tenancy provided certain conditions are met. Please be aware that termination of the tenancy must, in all cases, be signed by all the heirs or by their duly authorised representative.

Tip: To terminate a tenancy more quickly, the heirs may apply for early termination by finding a replacement tenant who must be solvent, of good character, and willing to take over the tenancy under the same conditions.

Yes, provided that a replacement tenant is found, who must be solvent, of good character, and willing to take over the tenancy under the same conditions. You must be diligent and, as a precaution, it may be a good idea to present the landlord with several replacement tenants, as a candidate may pull out and not sign the agreement at the last moment, or may not be solvent. However, you are released from paying the rent if the candidate pulls out because the landlord has decided to increase the rent or change the conditions of the tenancy or if the landlord rejects the suggested candidate on personal grounds.

No. The tenant remains bound by the terms and dates in their tenancy agreement, unless a specific written agreement has been drawn up with the landlord.

Not specifically. It is never mandatory for you to sign any document. As soon as it is signed, it means you are fully agreeing with the content of the document.

However, by refusing to sign an inventory, your landlord has the right to take you to court for the damage he holds you responsible for.

  • Therefore the solution consists in:
    Take your time to read carefully the document before signing it.
  • Make sure to record comments or observations regarding any “damaged” items (e.g. “contested” ; “was already in this condition when arrived” ; “due to day to day utilisation” or more). You should be accurate in order to avoid any litigation due to misunderstandings. Feel free to give details as much as possible.
  • Ask a legal practitioner for advice in case of any interrogation or disagreement
    Without any check-in inventory, who is responsible to bring proofs in case of disagreement ?

Without a written check-in inventory document, it is the landlord who is responsible to bring proofs that the apartment was in a good condition and that none of the mentioned damage did exist when you moved in.

Ask questions if needed

In case of any doubts, or if you have questions, you can contact the landlord, the management company or the tenants’ association in your canton (Asloca if French-speaking Switzerland, Mieterverband if German-speaking Switzerland) directly for advice or to ask questions.