How to Maintain Your Swiss Rental Property
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How to Maintain Your Swiss Rental Property

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Here's a primer on how to maintain your Swiss property, with tips and advice from Swiss housing experts. Learn what steps you can take to avoid losing your rental deposit and which areas of the property to pay extra attention to.

Do you have questions regarding the maintenance of your property? If you're a foreigner in Switzerland you might not know who to turn to. Our relocation consultants are one free Guidance Call away. 

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How to maintain your Swiss rental property

You've found a house to rent in Switzerland, nicely done! Next, make sure you read and abide by your lease agreement which clearly defines the tenants' obligations with respect to property maintenance. Repair and maintenance costs could be deducted from your rental deposit if you don't hand over the property in a satisfactory condition.

Maintaining your rented apartment might seem complicated, especially if you're an expat renting for the first time in Switzerland. While the legislation differs from canton to canton and there are, indeed, strict rules about what you can and cannot do, compliance is not impossible. 

Let's take a closer look at the nitty-gritty of rental property maintenance in Switzerland.

Most lease agreements state that the tenant is responsible for basic property maintenance in Switzerland. If there is damage or the property is not well looked after, the tenant is liable for repair costs.

The rental contract itself could be affected by the failure to comply with its terms. Examples of property maintenance responsibilities, most of which are mentioned in the standard cantonal lease terms, are listed below. These are examples, by no means a complete list of duties!

Property Maintenance as Defined in Rental Agreements

In apartments and houses:

  • Bathrooms and kitchen must be well ventilated 

  • Taps should be decalcified   

  • Rubber joints of electrical appliances should be changed 

  • Blinds should be kept in working order 

  • Filters (ventilation, dishwasher, hub) should be kept clean 

  • Freezers should be emptied and cleaned regularly

  • Drains must be unblocked/unclogged

In houses or freestanding buildings:

  • Heating system must be checked and cleaned annually, burner cleaned and boiler decalcified

  • The chimney must be swept

  • Pipes and gutters must be cleaned

  • Drains must be emptied

  • Garden maintenance includes the following: leaves cleared, hedges trimmed, lawn treated once a year, plants and lawn watered, trees trimmed, pool kept clean and in working order

Tenants are obligated to inform the landlord or agency in the event of damage to the property. We recommend you do this sooner rather than later. The landlord or the agency can usually recommend someone to help you fix the issue fast. Plus, it's always better to be transparent. Accidents happen - everyone knows that, so it won't be the end of the world. Concealing it or trying to improvise a quick fix on your own may end up costing you more in the long run.

Essential Tips for Property Maintenance

Now that you know all the essential things to inspect closely before handing over your rental property, it's important to be aware that you're not on your own:

  • Check with your real estate agency or landlord what maintenance and technical services are included in the contract. You'll find that some of the things listed above are included in your rent and all you have to do is make the appointment.

  • Where required, set up maintenance contracts with home maintenance service providers. This will take things off your plate in the long run and ensure you don't forget about mandatory maintenance check-ups.

  • Check the stickers on various appliances (like heating systems). These stickers have the contact information of the company responsible for maintenance, as well as the due date for maintenance works. If that is not the case (although it rarely happens), the agency can also provide a recommendation. 

  • Keep the contact information of your real estate agency, landlord or maintenance service close at hand. If this is your first time renting a property in Switzerland or in a new canton, it's easy to get confused about who's responsible for what in property maintenance. The fastest way to solve a dilemma is to contact the real estate agency, landlord, or the maintenance service provider.

Wear and tear resulting from normal usage is acceptable, but damage resulting from lack of maintenance or neglect will be the tenant's responsibility. If there is any deterioration, it is the tenant's responsibility to inform the landlord or agent.

Think this rule is a bit harsh? It may seem so, but it actually protects both tenant and landlord. With regular maintenance, a building will last longer and overall costs and repairs will be cheaper.

In apartments, basic maintenance responsibilities are not very time consuming but in houses they can quickly get out of control. Setting up and managing maintenance contracts can help you avoid this. While it may seem more expensive in the beginning to hire a company to handle the property maintenance and various small repairs, you will see that in the long run it could actually save you money. As mentioned above, timely repairs and maintenance work lead to fewer serious (and costly!) problems.

Understanding Your Maintenance Responsibilities

You might have to pay for maintenance and superficial repairs and you will only pay for major repairs if you are responsible for the damages. Not sure what falls under major or minor repairs? Re-read your lease agreement. If still unclear, reach out to your real estate agency or landlord.

In some lease contracts, the landlord chooses the maintenance companies. In others, you are free to choose your own providers. 

In some lease contracts, part of the house maintenance (hedge trimming, boiler/burner) is to be undertaken at the landlord's costs. Do, however, find out what your responsibilities are. Don't assume that the stipulations of a lease agreement automatically apply to the next one. Rules vary from canton to canton and sometimes from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

Wrapping Things Up

Property maintenance in Switzerland is often more complicated than in other countries. But it's a means to protect both landlords and tenants. When you leave a property in as good a condition as you found it, you can rest assured that the next property you will rent will be equally ready to receive you.

Luckily, you don't have to figure all this out on your own. Reach out to our relocation experts for any questions related to daily life in Switzerland.

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Would you like to find out more about the complex Swiss housing market? What happens after you find a home in Switzerland? How to maintain your Swiss property and why this is so important? Have a look at Everything you need to know about the Swiss housing market