Is it really illegal to flush your toilet in Switzerland after 10pm?
It’s not often that Switzerland gets a headline story read around the world, but when it does, writers abroad have a habit of sensationalising or even stretching the truth around parts of Swiss culture. This was certainly true when the Daily Mail recently reported that people in the alpine nation are unable to flush their toilets after 10pm. The truth however, in the words of author John Green, resists simplicity.
Daily Mail claims Swiss households can't flush toilets after 10pm
"If you want to go to the toilet in your apartment in Switzerland at night, the following applies: Flushing is forbidden!" the German newspaper Bild wrote gleefully on January 17. It follows the British newspaper Daily Mail mentioning Switzerland in its list of the world’s most bizarre laws, which included gems like it being illegal to fall asleep in a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
In the words of the British tabloid, “It is illegal to flush the toilet after 10pm in an apartment building in Switzerland as the government considers it noise pollution. It is common for landlords to impose house rules whereby residents are not allowed to flush their toilet between the hours of 10pm and 7am as it may disturb their neighbours.”
Flushing toilets after 10pm not illegal in Switzerland, but some rules still apply
Sadly, readers of the Daily Mail are in for a disappointment, as flushing a toilet after 10pm is by no means illegal in Switzerland. Fabian Gloor, from the Swiss Tenants’ Association, told Blick that "a general ban on using the toilet flush during the night's rest would interfere too much with the personal rights of the tenants," and that if a neighbour is woken up by a flushing toilet or running shower, they have no right to call the police.
However, as Marisha Pessi wrote: “Within every elaborate lie, a kernel of truth” - so too with this article. While it is certainly not illegal to flush toilets, the Swiss government did state that it is forbidden to "be loud and disturb your neighbours" between the hours of 10pm and 6am, often referred to in Switzerland as the curfew - or when residents’ inner Bünzli comes to life. However, authorities were quick to point out that this is also a law in Germany and other countries.
In addition, while restricting the use of showers and toilets is rather extreme, some rental contracts do restrict the use of louder appliances like washing machines, dishwashers and dryers. Also, while it isn’t a universal rule, let’s just say that no one likes to be woken up by the neighbours' washing machine clattering about in the late evening.