Housing Issues

When terminating your stay in Switzerland, understand how to deal with contracts, sales, insurance and utility bills...

Rental contract

In Switzerland, tenants who wish to move out of a property must give notice in writing of the termination of their tenancy agreement. All tenants named on the contract must sign the letter. It is recommended to send it by registered mail (Einschreiben/lettre recommendé).

The usual notice period for residential property is three months but can be up to six months. It is vital that the notice of termination reaches the landlord in good time (at least one day before the beginning of the notice period).

The tenancy agreement normally specifies the agreed notice period. Anyone wishing to vacate a property quickly must normally find another suitable tenant or pay the rent themselves.

It is important to ensure that the rental property is left in a clean condition. There are cleaning companies specialising in serving people who are moving, and this service is recommended. A rental contract will state whether the property must be redecorated before the tenant moves out. This may include repairs to flooring, repainting, and filling-in holes made by the tenant's fixtures and fittings. The landlord will likely want to check through a detailed inventory of fixtures and fittings and to inspect for any damage.

A deposit is usually required at the start of the tenancy and this should be returned as long as the property is in satisfactory condition. The deposit may be used to carry out repairs but only with the agreement of the tenant. If a tenant does not agree, a landlord must get a court ruling that repairs will be paid out of the deposit. If a court ruling is not obtained, then the bank will return the deposit to the tenant one year later.

Rental contracts list the sets of keys given to a tenant. These must all be returned at the end of the rental period. If any keys are missing, the locks must be changed at the tenant's expense.

Payment of all taxes is the landlord's responsibility so is unlikely any refunds will be due.

  • For more information regarding tenancy termination, see the Swiss government website: Click here

Property sales

For non-Swiss nationals, permission has to be given before buying property in Switzerland unless the property will serve as the principal residence.

For those who satisfied the requirements and purchased a property, the property may now need to be sold, though the Swiss authorities will allow it to be kept as a secondary residence or to be rented out if preferred.

Following a sale, the seller may be liable for capital gains taxes. The amount due, if any, will depend on the profit and the duration of ownership.

Insurance

Home insurance can be cancelled once a sale is completed (or a tenancy has ended) and in some circumstances a partial refund may be due. It is best to cancel all insurance in writing and by recorded delivery.

Utility bills

As with any house move, there are utility bills to be settled and meters to be read. If meters are not outside, access to the property will be required. Leave a forwarding address with all the companies involved.

Utility services in Switzerland are managed at a cantonal level, with one organisation in each area supplying all the utility services.

Before departure, contact the company providing the services locally so that they can take the necessary steps to read meters and prepare accounts.

  • For Geneva residents this will be Services Industriels de Genève (SIG). It is possible to make notification of a move on the website: Click here

Telephone and Internet: The national provider of fixed lines is Swisscom. They should be contacted prior to departure.

  • This can be done via a free phone number which can be found at their website: Click here
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