Report: People in Zurich resorting to overbidding in order to rent apartments

Report: People in Zurich resorting to overbidding in order to rent apartments

As the housing crisis in Switzerland rumbles on, a local real estate association in Zurich has revealed that some families and individuals are offering to pay 500 francs a month more in rent than the asking price in order to secure property in the city. The illegal practice has been condemned by real estate agents and the local tenants' association.

Tenants in Zurich starting to overbid on rental properties

Speaking to, real estate management agency Verit said that prospective tenants in Zug and Zurich are resorting to desperate measures in order to try and find a house or apartment to rent. A spokesperson told the news outlet that among other more common and legal strategies, like offering to purchase furniture, "some searchers even offer to pay a higher rent than advertised."

In particular, the agency reported some people are offering to pay between 100 to 500 Swiss francs a month more than the asking price cited in rental contracts, with some even willing “to pay higher amounts.” With vacancy rates at an all-time low in Zurich, many prospective tenants are now willing to bribe their way to find a place to call home.

Overbidding on rental property is illegal in Switzerland

While the concept of “overbidding” is a common occurrence when trying to buy a house, the practice is strictly illegal when it comes to rental properties, with housing agency Privera telling that "our employees have strict instructions to reject such "offers"." Other companies like Livit AG and Von Graffenried Immobilien told the website that while they had heard of overbidding, they are yet to receive such an offer.

Michael Friedli, Head of Management at Von Graffenried, added that "as a professional company, we wouldn't go along with something like that either." "We define the rent clearly in advance," he explained, noting that anyone giving a rental property to the highest bidder has “no style.”

Zurich Tenants' Association calls the practice immoral

Speaking to, Fabian Gloor from the Zurich Tenants’ Association said that these offers are “immoral and extremely dangerous.” He noted that "there are clear rules as to how high the rent can be" as dictated through the reference interest rate - the mechanism that allows tenants to apply for rent reductions and allows landlords to increase rental costs. 

Along with the legal argument, Gloor added that it was “highly problematic” that apartments were becoming “auction items.” "Even those looking for a flat who make such offers behave in a lack of solidarity with other people looking for a flat", he said, calling on authorities in Canton Zurich to apply rent controls in order to prevent the practice from becoming commonplace.

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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