Lausanne to launch new pilot scheme to help tenants swap homes

Lausanne to launch new pilot scheme to help tenants swap homes

A new pilot project that encourages older residents to “swap” their larger homes and apartments for smaller ones will soon launch in Lausanne. Officials in Canton Vaud hope that the scheme will mean that living space is used more efficiently.

Housing in Switzerland not used efficiently, authorities note

With the housing crisis in Switzerland continuing to rumble on, many Swiss cities and cantons are trying to come up with new ways to ease the shortage. One of the often cited reasons for the high demand for housing is that living space is not being used efficiently. For instance, experts regularly note that elderly people continue to live in large homes, despite no longer needing the extra space. 

This denies larger homes to families in need of more room, who end up occupying apartments better suited to first-time renters and individuals, further clogging up the housing market. Swiss bank and investment firm Raiffeisen recently reported the amount of "wasted" living space in Switzerland is the equivalent of 170.000 100-square metre apartments.

The phenomenon is exacerbated by the fact that rental costs have risen to the point where smaller new homes are being advertised for the same rent that the elderly are already paying for their larger homes, meaning that to free up the space, older people have to agree to pay more for less.

Lausanne launches housing swap project

Therefore, officials in Lausanne are set to launch a pilot project on February 23, designed to make it easier for people to switch homes. Speaking to reporters, Lausanne councillor Natacha Litzistorf said the scheme hopes to “optimise” living space within the city.

Under the plans, seniors and families that inhabit the 1.300 homes owned by the local council will be contacted to “see if they have any problems with over-occupancy or problems with unsuitable housing”, Litzistorf explained. Interested parties will then be able to connect, and those found to be willing to swap their rental contracts will be given the support needed to make the change happen. 

Lausanne hopes to expand housing pilot to include private providers

The project itself will start fully in the spring, with the first successful home swaps scheduled for the autumn. Litzistorf explained that the pilot is designed to see how many people would actually be willing to swap their apartments when given the chance to. “Of course, the ideal is for these exchanges to work, but once again, nothing is certain,” she noted.

The pilot project is due to last for a year, after which local authorities will decide on whether to continue and / or expand the scheme. If it proves a success, Litzistorf said that private sector housing providers would get involved.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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