Welcome to the first in a series of articles highlighting the various options, opportunities and challenges when relocating to or leaving from Switzerland. In this series we will highlight various topics related to accommodation, immigration, transportation, education and general daily life in Switzerland. In this article, we will focus on the challenging task of searching for a new rental property in Switzerland.
The majority of Swiss residents still prefer to rent rather than buy residential properties, according to recent official statistics. This pro-rental sentiment is the basis for the relatively difficult and expensive property market – including the rental property sector.
There is a general under-supply (not enough) of good quality and relatively “affordable” rental properties in Switzerland to meet market demand. The demand is high, owing to a number of factors and the high number of expatriate workers in Switzerland is one of these key factors. This is especially true of the mid-range property market.
You can search for a rental property via the many real estate agencies, relocation companies, offline search (printed newspapers) and online real estate portals. In our experience, it is really important to get some experienced advice – even if you have to pay for it – to make your rental search less stressful, more productive and negotiating a decent rental cost. Property owners have VERY long and strong relationships with intermediaries (e.g. agencies) which can be positive, but also a potential barrier for you to access some properties. That is why its really important to get independent advice. Otherwise, you can also try to go direct to owners and try your best.
The Selection Process
Once you have found one or more properties that you are interested in renting, you will need to go through the sometimes nervous experience of being interviewed by the property owner, so that THEY can decide if they want to rent their property to you! In many occasions, the property owner will interview several renters one after the other, so don’t be surprised to see another potential 5, 10 or 20 potential renters sitting beside you at the property! You may also be asked to complete a renters application form and provide accompanying documents such as references. As we mentioned before, this is very much an “owners” market, not a renters. Again, good independent advice is recommended.
Assuming you are successful in being chosen by the property owner, you will start the process of preparing the legal contract before moving into the new property. Again, our advice is to either really know what you are doing or get some good advice / support.
The Property Handover
This is a vital part of the process because if not done properly, you could well be making huge (and costly) problems for yourself (and / or your employer) after you leave the property. The rules regarding repayment of rental deposits on future handing back of the property are very much in favour of the property owner. So, make sure you have a detailed and signed handover document that clearly states any problems / defects to the property, and who is responsible for future maintenance etc.
Though it may seem like a daunting task to do a stress-free property search in Switzerland, a combination of planning, patience and common-sense will help you. It can and probably will be frustrating, but that’s just the Swiss rental market. Again, good independent advice should see you through to a successful rental.
Note: MW Relo provides different property search services based on your budget and requirements.
(Author: Mark Muss, Founder & CEO, MW Relocation SA)
MW Relo is a Swiss based moving and relocation provider covering Zug and all areas in Switzerland with an international partner network. MW Relo was created by our founder and CEO, Mr. Mark Muss. Mark has more than 26 years’ experience in the international moving, relocation and global mobility industry. He has managed operations in 14 countries and has overseen more than 60.000 relocations during these years. MW Relo is proud to be a Swiss based provider, with a global professional partner supply chain network to ensure we can provide all services to clients, wherever they need.