Every tenant in Switzerland has rights and obligations regarding the apartment he/she rents. Many of these obligations are mentioned in the house rules. However, when certain elements are missing from these rules or seem to go against the freedom of the tenant, what does the law say? Here is a brief overview of frequently asked questions about tenants rights in Switzerland.

Book open on a table

I have proposed a potential tenant to take over my lease but my landlord had refused the candidate.

In principle, the landlord can refuse any candidate to take over the lease of the rented accommodation. However, if the potential tenant has the same source of income and is as serious as you are, it is not in his/her interest. Looking for a new tenant to take over your home? Put all the chances on your side.

I would like to sublet my apartment for a few months, am I allowed as a tenant ?

As a tenant, subletting is allowed in Switzerland but requires the owner’s agreement. If you respect the rules of subletting (rent lower than yours, number of sub-tenants in accordance with the property, etc.), there is no reason why your landlord should refuse to let you sublet the apartment.

It is written in my contract that smoking is prohibited, what are my rights as a tenant ?

Often, the lease contract mentions that smoking is prohibited in a rented accomodation. The law states that smoking cannot be prohibited in a rental property because it goes against personal freedom. However, you are responsible for any damage caused by cigarette smoke.

I want to paint my living room green, do I need to ask my management for permission?

In principle, you do not have to ask for permission to paint a wall in a rented accommodation. However, your landlord may ask you to return the property to its original state for the key handover, i.e. to paint the wall white.

My keys have been stolen and my landlord is asking me to pay for a new set of keys and a new lock.

If your keys are stolen, you must change the locks and keys. Depending on the wear and tear of the locks and keys, your landlord will have to pay a part of the amount. In other words, the older the locks, the less you will have to pay. This is your right as a tenant in Switzerland. A lock is considered to have a life span of 20 years. If your lock is more recent, you will have to pay the rest of the amount.

My management asks me to remove my flowerpots on my balcony, do I have the right to refuse ?

If the flowerpots are on your balcony, you do not have to remove them. As a tenant, you have the right to decorate your balcony as you wish, as long as it does not disturb the neighborhood. However, if you have installed planters yourself, your landlord may ask you to remove them for safety reasons.

My landlord has just terminated my lease because I have not paid one month’s rent. What can I do?

In the event of non-payment of rent, the landlord has the right to terminate the lease. Before terminating the lease, the landlord must send a registered letter to the tenant with the amount due and a deadline of at least one month to pay the amount. If the amount is not paid within this period, the landlord is entitled to terminate the lease.

I have just done the key handover and there is some mold in the bathroom. I was told that it was my responsibility. How can I defend myself?

It depends on the cause of the mold. If the mold appears because of a construction problem in the home, you are not responsible in any way. However, if you ran the water in the shower for 30 minutes without airing the bathroom, it is quite possible that the landlord or the management company will hold you responsible.

It is possible to have an expert come in at the time of the appearance of mold to determine if there is a problem with the insulation or ventilation of the dwelling. If everything is in order, you will be responsible if mold appears.

I bought my daughter a rabbit. Is there anything my landlord can tell me?

No. For small pets such as rabbits and rodents, you do not need your landlord’s approval to adopt an animal.

However, for dogs and cats or more “exotic” animals, you need the owner’s permission to bring your animal at home.

The real estate has just asked me to remove all objects on my landing, even shoes. Is this abusive?

The stairwell is not part of the rented property. Although generally, small objects such as doormats and shoes are allowed, this is not a tenant’s right in Switzerland. This is why you should always ask the landlord or the management for permission to store objects or furniture in the stairwell.

Work has started right across the street from our building and may last a few months. Can I ask for a rent reduction during the construction period?

Yes, if you experience noise pollution in your apartment, this is a valid reason to ask for a rent reduction. However, this does not mean that the landlord is obliged to reduce the rent.

I am giving back my apartment in which I lived for 5 years. The real estate asks me to repaint all the walls at my expense. The walls are white and still in good condition. Do I have the right to refuse?

You do not have to systematically repaint the walls of your entire apartment for the key handover, and above all it is not systematically your responsibility. In fact, it all depends on the reason for the wear and tear of the painting.

If the paint is worn by time, you are not responsible for future paint renovations. If the paint is damaged by smoking or negligence on your part, then it will indeed need to be painted.

My landlord is charging me for snow removal in the charges, is this allowed?

Snow removal can be included in the maintenance fees but it is not systematic. You may be asked to clear the snow yourself. Maintenance fees are included in the tenant’s charges.