If you are going to be abroad for some time and are renting a house or apartment in Switzerland, you might consider subletting your property while you are away. Subletting is a form of renting which can allow you to save money on your rented property while you are abroad working, on holiday or when you no longer require a larger home.
What is subletting?
Subletting is where the original tenant of a rental property leases out a room or their entire apartment to a subletter. The tenant is entitled to rent from the subletter and is also responsible for the apartment while the subletting is in progress. In Switzerland, subletting is typically used for short absences from the tenant, using the rooms during divorce or separation or for student housing.
What can you sublet in Switzerland?
In Switzerland, you are legally allowed to sublet all types of accommodation. This includes rented property leased recently to the new tenant. It is also possible to sublet rooms in your rented accommodation as long as they fit the size requirements for habitation. It is also typically expected for the property to be fully furnished but always make sure that any personal belongings are securely stored before the subletter arrives.
Requirements for subletting a Swiss house or apartment
In order to sublet your rented accommodation, you must first apply for a permit from your current landlord. You must submit your application in writing or orally, detailing your reasons for subletting. In this letter, it is recommended to include:
- Your full reasons for subletting the property including evidence.
- How much of the property you are subletting.
- A rough estimate of what you will be charging.
- A draft of the subletting agreement.
Criteria for refusing to sublet
According to article 262 of the Swiss Code of Obligations, landlords must accept permission to sublet a property. This can only be challenged under the following circumstances:
- The property is being misused for a commercial or tourist reason, such as a furnished apartment or aparthotel.
- The rental price is significantly higher than the original contract.
- The tenant refuses to inform the landlord that they are subletting.
- The subletting contract is significantly different to the original rental contract.
What to include in your subletting contract
In Switzerland, a subletting contract holds the same legal rights as a regular rental contract. Therefore, it is important to include provisions for all circumstances so that your relationship with your subletter is laid out legally. It is also important due to the fact your landlord can refuse your application to sublet if they deem your contract to be contradictory to the one agreed to originally, or the new contract was made in bad faith.
In a good subletting contract, it is vital that you include:
- Full details of the leasing party, the subletter and the landlord
- Full description of what is being sublet
- A strict definition of how long the contract lasts (a specific date can be set or an official notice period)
- Cost of rent for the subletter
- Any rental deposit
If your landlord and your subletter agrees to the contract, you may start the subletting at any time.
How much should you charge when subletting?
Officially, you are not supposed to make a profit out of subletting your property, it is simply designed to cover your rent while you are not living there. In Switzerland, you are allowed to charge the equivalent amount of rent as your landlord if you are leasing the full property. This is increased to 20 percent more than your landlord’s rent if you furnished the accommodation yourself, although the definition of “fully furnished” can be challenged by your landlord.
If your landlord finds that you are charging extortionate amounts for all or part of a property, they are legally allowed to terminate your rental contract.
Landlord responsibilities when subletting
When you are subletting your property, you assume the responsibility of a landlord. This means that you are liable for any issues caused by your subletter, as well as any maintenance costs incurred during their stay. It is also likely that you will have to pay the cost of all utilities. If you are planning on subletting, it is recommended to take out various types of private insurance to make sure that you are covered should any damage be caused. These are:
- Contents insurance
- Damage insurance
- Liability insurance
How to cancel a subletting contract in Switzerland
Subletting contracts can be cancelled under the same regulations as standard rental contracts. This means that the contract can be cancelled under a three-month notice period, or by a specific end date as listed in the subletting contract.