How To Terminate a Lease in Switzerland
Terminating the lease is a usual procedure for anyone renting an apartment or house. Especially in large cities, the housing market is moving fast, offering a number of options. So you might have found another apartment in Switzerland or moving to another city and have to end your tenancy asap. To do so, there are several rules and regulations you must know as a tenant.
To terminate a lease in Switzerland, a tenant must send a written letter to the landlord by registered mail with three months of notice. Your rental contracts might state a different notice period. As a tenant, you are eligible to find a new tenant that is willing to rent the apartment during the notice period so that you can move out as soon as possible.
When moving out of the apartment or house, you should consider many things, including searching for a new tenant and fixing the things that must be fixed. Switzerland is strict on deadlines, so you must observe at least three months’ notice. Read more about the tenancy and rental agreements in Switzerland in this article.
Breaking a lease in Switzerland
To end the lease in Switzerland, you must send a letter to your landlord, preferably by registered mail, in due time. The termination of the lease agreement must always be in writing, with a handwritten signature, and on paper. Simply a verbal termination or an email isn’t enough.
The notice period for apartments and homes is three months unless something else is specified in your rental agreement. Hence, a landlord must receive your termination letter three months before your moving-out date.
The main rules when terminating an apartment lease in Switzerland are:
- As a tenant, you must give three months’ notice – no matter how long you have lived in the apartment.
- You must give notice at the end of the last month before the notice period starts so that the following month will count towards the notice period.
- Your termination letter must be written, signed, and sent by mail (not email).
- If you don’t want to wait three months before moving out, you can find a new tenant. The landlord will have 30 days to approve this person as the following tenant.
Terminating a lease in Switzerland as a tenant
What do you need to know about residential leases and termination of rental contracts in Switzerland?
The typical notice period in Switzerland for residential premises is at least three months. For commercial premises, it’s six months and for furnished rooms two weeks. Longer periods can always be contractually agreed upon; shorter ones, on the other hand, count as invalid.
In the absence of any agreement between the landlord and tenant, a notice period of three months applies.
The notice period and the termination date are two different things. The termination date is when your contract ends, you stop paying for your rent, and move out, while the notice period is when you have to terminate the lease.
The notice period is three months or determined in the lease agreement. The termination date, however, is usually specified in the contract. In many cases, you can end the lease at the end of each month.
If there is no information on this, the usual local dates apply. For most cantons, it’s twice per year, at the end of March and the end of September. You can see the dates down below.
It’s crucial to observe the notice period and the termination date; otherwise, you might pay rent even after you move out.
So, if you want to terminate your apartment on March 31, you must send the termination letter three months in advance – at the end of December.
If the apartment is terminated outside the notice period, you must look for a new tenant. This person must be willing to take over the existing lease under the same conditions.
This also means that the landlord isn’t allowed to change the contract. Without a new tenant, the tenant must continue to pay the rent until the expiry of the contractual notice period.
Exceptions to the notice period
If you want to move out earlier and don’t want to pay three more months for the rent, there are some options. You can find another tenant who will move in earlier than three months and pay the rent for you during this notice period.
A new tenant must be able to pay the rent. It’s only possible if the rent doesn’t exceed one-third of their income. A new tenant must also be “reasonable,” meaning, if you were a single living in this apartment alone, a tenant must be living there alone too.
The landlord is allowed a period for consideration of two to four weeks. If the landlord rejects the new tenant without sufficient reasons, or if they change the contract to disadvantage the new tenant. You no longer have to pay for the rent.
However, if you can’t find a replacement tenant, you must pay the rent until the regular end of the lease.
The termination date is usually specified in the contract, for example, after two years from the date you have rented the apartment. However, the local dates apply if nothing is stated in the agreement. They vary deepening on the canton you are in:
|Canton||Official termination date|
|Aargau||31. March, 30. June, 30. September|
|Bern||30. April, 31. October|
|Luzern||No official dates|
|Neuenburg||31. March, 30. June, 30. September|
|Nidwalden und Obwalden||31. March, 30. June, 30. September|
|Solothurn||31. March, 30. September|
|Tessin, Lugano and area around||29. March, 29. September|
|Zug||31. March, 30. June, 30. September|
|Zürich||Stadt: 31. March und 30. September|
Areas around Zürich: 31. March, 30. June, 30. September
In the cantons of Appenzell, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, St. Gallen, Schaffhausen, and Schwyz is possible to terminate an apartment at the end of any month, except for the end of December.
As a tenant, you don’t have to state why you terminate the lease. The tenancy can be terminated with the statutory notice period of three months to any date (usually).
When should your landlord receive a termination letter?
Your notice of termination must reach your landlord no later than the last day before the start of the notice period.
Can a landlord end the tenancy in Switzerland?
Landlords can also terminate the rental agreement. However, it’s very rare and must be approved by the canton (residential and commercial premises). Otherwise, the termination will be invalid.
The landlord should indicate a reason for the termination. The tenant can refuse to agree with the termination and report it to the responsible authorities in their canton. They can do it within 30 days from receiving a termination letter.
However, a landlord can terminate the lease without notice if the tenant intentionally causes severe damage to the apartment.
A notice period of 30 days applies if the tenant was warned but continues to violate the rules, e.g., doing damages, not paying rent, etc.
Reasons when a landlord can terminate the lease
Some of the reasons why a landlord can terminate a rental agreement in Switzerland include:
1. Behavior of the tenant: inability or willingness to pay the rent, lack of care for the rental property, breaches of contractual agreements, etc.
2. State of the property: demolition, large-scale renovation work, change of use, conversion, sale.
3. Personal interests of the landlord: renting the apartment to a close person, own needs.
4. Change of ownership: if the landlord sells the property, the buyer automatically becomes the new landlord; no new rental agreements are required.
However, the law gives the new landlord the option of terminating the lease with the statutory notice period of three months to the next customary local date. It’s only possible if the new landlord claims the urgent personal need for themselves or their relatives immediately after the purchase.
Protection of tenants in Switzerland if landlords terminate the lease
If you, as the tenant, receive the notice of termination, you have 30 days to contest it at the local conciliation board for rental matters. The conciliation procedure is free of charge for all parties involved.
In your letter, you could request an extension of the tenancy in case you lose the case. The tenancy can be extended to a maximum of four years, but it’s rare. In Swiss cities, an extension is often six months to one year.
How to terminate the lease in Switzerland: step by step
Steps to take when terminating a rental agreement in Switzerland:
1. Send a notice
- Writing a notice is the first thing you need to do when ending the lease in Switzerland. The notice period is three months before the moving-out date. It’s better to inform the landlord as soon as possible.
2. Find a new tenant
- If you want to move out before three months, you must find a new tenant. A new tenant must prove that they are financially able to pay the rent. Most landlords require a current extract from the debt collection register.
- The next tenant must take over the apartment on the same terms as you. If you are single and live in the apartment alone, the new tenants must be equal to you. The same rule applies, for example, if you propose a smoker for your non-smoking apartment or a person with a pet when you don’t have one.
- Although the law only requires one proposal, it’s better to suggest several new tenants to the landlord. This way, you will be secure that you have a replacement if someone cancels.
- If you submit proposals for tenants to the landlord, the landlord can take up to 30 days to decide.
- Before you start looking for a new tenant, talk to the landlord. Maybe he has a waiting list or wants to renovate the apartment. Then you could terminate early without a need to find a replacement. However, have this confirmed in writing.
- If you place advertisements for the apartment, you have to pay the costs yourself.
- As soon as the landlord and new tenant have signed a contract, you are set free and can move out. If there are subsequent contractual problems between the new tenant and the landlord, this isn’t your responsibility.
- As soon as the new tenant is choosed and accepted, you can ask the landlord to confirm that your tenancy has ended.
3. Move out
Moving out is probably the easiest step in the whole process. However, you need to show the apartment to the landlord and ensure everything is fine. You must properly hand over a rented apartment or house.
It takes place on the last day of the tenancy; earlier dates can be agreed upon with the landlord. If there are defects or some missing parts, the landlord has the right to take your deposit to fix the issues you caused.
4. Get your deposit back
Lastly, you are eligible to get your deposit back. It’s common to pay up to three months’ rent (including additional costs) in a security deposit when the tenant moves in. You will get your money back after you move out.
Earlier termination of the lease in Switzerland
If you want to move out earlier than three months, you must provide a solvent and reasonable tenant who will take over the home. They must be willing to take over the lease on the existing terms. The landlord then has 30 days to check whether the new tenant meets the requirements.
In practice, proposing several new tenants to the landlord is recommended – the more, the better. In that case, a rental agreement can be terminated without notice.
You must send an official letter to your landlord when ending the lease in Switzerland. What should be included in the termination letter?
- Expression of intent that you want to terminate the lease.
- Signatures of all tenants
- Full address of the rented apartment and floor
- Notice period and date of termination
- Request to the landlord to confirm the notice of termination
- Notice that the tenant will contact the landlord to arrange a handover date
The letter must be addressed to the landlord and include the signatures of all tenants. They don’t have to state specific reasons for termination.
Here is an example of the termination letter in English and German languages:
Termination of the apartment
Ordinary termination of the lease: [number] at [street, no].
I hereby terminate the above rental agreement dated [date] in due time as of [date].
Please inform me of the apartment drop-off date and any viewing dates.
I would ask you to confirm receipt of this notice in writing.
Thank you for the always pleasant rental relationship.
[first name] [last name]
Ordentliche Kündigung des Mietvertrags: [Nummer] an der [Strasse, Nr]
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren
Hiermit kündige ich den oben genannten Mietvertrag vom [Datum] fristgemäss per [Datum].
Bitte informieren Sie mich über den Wohnungsabgabetermin und allfällige Besichtigungstermine.
Der guten Form halber bitte ich Sie mir den Erhalt dieser Kündigung schriftlich zu bestätigen.
Ich bedanke mich für das stets angenehme Mietverhältnis.
You can download the German version here.
Tenant rights and obligations in Switzerland
Compared to other countries, Swiss tenancy law is extremely tenant-friendly. Tenants benefit from strong tenant protection in Switzerland.
Some of the tenant’s rights and protection include:
- Protection against frauds with rent
- Right to defects to be fixed by the landlord
- Right to reduce the rent in case of persistent defects
- Right to compensation for damages due to defects in the rented property
- Protection against termination
Other rights that tenants have in Switzerland:
- to receive guests
- not to pay brokerage fees
- to determine who may enter the apartment
- to accept roommates in agreement with the landlord
- to furnish and decorate the rented property
In Switzerland, a tenant has not only rights but also obligations. Moreover, they are regulated by authorities such as the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR).
According to Swiss law, the main obligation of the tenant is to pay the agreed rent. Tenants must also allow the landlord to enter the property when it’s needed and justified. The most important tenant’s obligations include:
- Pay the rent on time
- Care for the rental object
- Report defects in the rented property
- Tolerate landlord entering the house and fixing defects
Nonetheless, as a tenant in Switzerland, you can enjoy many rights, and the law will be on your side in most cases.