Zurich tenants hit with "significant" rent rises after apartment renovations
The renters' association MV Zürich has warned that tenants are being priced out of their own apartments after renovations carried out by landlords. The association says that renovations can often cause rent to skyrocket by 800 Swiss francs a month in Zurich, forcing tenants to look for a new house or apartment.
Rent rises of over 800 Swiss francs after house and apartment renovations
If a landlord or housing association wants to complete renovations on their property, they have a right to leave an apartment "vacant," allowing the previous tenant to return once renovations are complete. However, Head of Communication for MV Zürich Walter Angst said that these renovations give landlords the ideal opportunity to raise rent and modify rental contracts.
The example he used was a complex of 40 apartments in a premium area of Zurich, owned by Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB), the local Swiss bank. Before the renovations, rent for a two to four room apartment was around 1.400 to 2.400 Swiss francs a month.
Once the renovations were complete, previous tenants were shocked to find their rental costs had increased by 800 to 900 Swiss francs a month, with empty apartments being advertised at 2.000 to 4.000 Swiss francs a month. This is allowed under Swiss law, as rent rises can be made due to "maintenance costs or improvements."
Angst noted that many landlords are using renovations in the inner city to dramatically raise rent. He said that renovations on occupied buildings are not attractive to tenants “because then rents can only be increased.” He estimated that because many apartments are undervalued in the city centre, around half of current renovations in Zurich will involve rent rises.
New "Energy Act" may lead to increasing rental cost for tenants in Zurich
MV Zürich are also worried that the city government's plans for an “Energy Act (EnerG)” in November 2021, which seeks to make housing more environmentally friendly, will cause mass vacancies and higher rents. Estimates by INFRAS show that, of the 80.000 apartments that would be renovated under the act, half would see rent rises as a result.
Walter Angst called on the government, particularly the Green Party of Switzerland who proposed the Energy Act, to bring forward “measures to protect tenants.” He hoped that pressure from MV Zürich would highlight the issue of "rent maximisation," and encourage councillors to put the interests of renters first.