New referendum launched against sky-high rental costs in Switzerland

New referendum launched against sky-high rental costs in Switzerland

At a meeting on June 24, 2023, the Swiss Tenants’ Association agreed to launch a new referendum against “excessive rents and yields.” The proposal is in response to the recent rise in the reference interest rate, which will lead to higher costs for more than half of those who rent houses or apartments in Switzerland.

Switzerland on brink of social crisis, say Tenants' Association

“The explosion of rents and charges as well as the massive pressure on vacant accommodation in certain regions have greatly concerned us… we are facing a social crisis”, declared Carlo Sommaruga, president of the association. Specifically, the president said that committee members were “very worried” about the recent rise in the reference interest rate.

The metric - which is used to calculate rent reductions and increases in Switzerland - rose by 0,25 percentage points on June 1, 2023, allowing landlords to raise rents by up to 3 percent on around 50 percent of tenants in the country, including those with pre-agreed rental contracts. In a housing market where prices were rising before the announcement, the association said the decision to raise the rate had “only made the problem worse.”

Swiss Tenants' Association launches anti-rent rise referendum

With experts warning another rise is on the way, the association said that “in the coming years, rents could increase by up to 20 percent.” Therefore, at its general meeting in Biel / Bienne, the association voted for a plan to launch a referendum against “excessive rents and yields.”

While the text of the referendum is yet to be revealed, the association said that it will be an initiative designed to “ensure rents are regularly checked in future”. This will likely involve making sure that prices on the market are in line with maximum rental costs - a pressing issue highlighted by the association in September 2022, when they claimed that tenants are paying 14 billion francs a year more than they should and that many rents are illegally high.

Association to oppose all attempts to change Swiss tenancy rights

Finally, the association reiterated its commitment to launch referendums against any attempt by the government to reform - in their opinion scrap - tenancy rights. “Despite the very tense situation, the real estate lobby continues to attack tenancy rights head-on. They want to weaken the protection against termination of leases and the possibility of opposing rent increases,” Sommaruga concluded.

For more information about what was agreed, check out the official press release.

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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