Study finds non-Swiss tenants pay 12 percent more rent than citizens

Study finds non-Swiss tenants pay 12 percent more rent than citizens

New data from the government has revealed that people with Swiss residence permits and those who have “foreign origins” pay more to rent a house or apartment in Switzerland than citizens. Politicians have called for more action to be taken to make rental costs fairer.

Non-Swiss renters pay more for houses and apartments

According to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), in 2019, a “non-immigrant” couple without children would expect to pay an average of 1.550 Swiss francs a month for a 100-square metre flat outside of Zurich and Geneva. A non-Swiss couple by contrast would have to pay around 12 percent more, forking out 1.740 Swiss francs a month for the same flat.

The difference is most pronounced in eastern Swiss cantons. At the same time, the study also found that those with an immigrant background occupy smaller apartments - around 8 square metres smaller than Swiss-rented apartments on average. 

Non-Swiss need to make more effort to find housing

This means that alongside car insurance - where premiums vary depending on nationality - people who aren’t Swiss or have only recently been naturalised have to pay more for housing. This was reinforced by a similar study conducted by Swiss universities in 2019, which found that people with Turkish or Kosovar-sounding names have to put in around 30 percent “more effort” to find an apartment than the rest of the population.

Speaking to Blick, National Councillor Mustafa Atici said that “some property owners take advantage of the plight of people, especially foreigners.” While often blamed for the housing crisis in Switzerland, he made the point that expats and internationals are also the most likely to be affected, made worse by the fact that the rate of unemployment among non-Swiss or recently naturalised people is nearly double that of citizens.

Politician calls on Federal Council to take action

Atici called on the government to investigate the matter further and make it easier for tenants to take legal action if they think they are being discriminated against or systemically overcharged. He concluded that the Federal Council also needed to explain how it will combat the problem in the future.

Despite having affirmed in the past that housing discrimination needed to be confronted, the Federal Council is yet to announce any initiative to combat the matter. However, according to Blick, authorities have promised that they will consider the problem “in due course.”

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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