Are you thinking of moving to Switzerland? Or do you already live in Switzerland but want a new apartment? Then you will be confronted with the same problem as the Swiss: finding a new apartment takes time and patience. Because especially in the big cities there is a lack of empty and available housing. But with these tips the house search will certainly become a lot more successful, and soon you will find yourself living in the apartment of your dreams.
Where to look for a new apartment?
There are many national housing websites where you can easily set up a subscription. You will be informed daily about the newest apartments. However, it is not unusual to find the same advertisements on the different sites.
Use the power of social media and publish a post on Facebook that you are looking for an apartment. Also, sign up for all groups that exist in your area and that are housing related.
In the larger Swiss cities, the “ronorp.net” platform is also recommended for apartment searches. Many private persons advertise their free apartment on the platform because advertising is free and the target audience of the platform is young and urban. There is also the subcategory “Subletting”, which can be a solution for you if you don’t find a long term lease right away.
Intranet of your employer
An often underestimated contact point is the intranet of one’s own employer. The intranet of large companies often offers an “apartment” section. If there is no intranet in your company, perhaps the good old black board still exists where colleagues post their adds.
Friends and acquaintances
The best way to find a new place is under the table. Tell absolutely everyone you know that you are looking for an apartment. Often someone knows someone who knows someone who rents his apartment. Often these are so-called off-date terminations. This means that the tenant terminates his tenancy outside the notice periods defined in the contract. In this case, the tenant must present 2 valid new tenants to his property management company. So you have a 50% chance to get the apartment and did not have to assert yourself against hundreds of applicants.
Your current property management company
If you are already renting an apartment, then ask the current landlord or the property management complany whether they have a free apartment elsewhere that meets your criterias. The big advantage is that the administration already knows you and there is a good chance that they will consider you as a tenant. As long as you haven’t been noticed negatively and have always paid your rent of course.
Be on time for your viewing appointment
Have you ever noticed queues of people in front of an apartment building and wondered what they were waiting for? They all want to visit an apartment. It is therefore advisable to arrive at least half an hour before the official time at a public viewing appointment. Otherwise you might not even be able to see the apartment because the queue of people standing in line is too long.
Private viewing appointment
If the apartment is shown by the current tenant, then it is always worth asking for an earlier date under the pretext that you are prevented from the official viewing date. Some tenants are flexible and agree. This gives you the big advantage of being able to look at the apartment alone in peace and quiet on the one hand, and on the other you gain time compared to your competitors. If you like it, you can immediately send your application to the property management company. And they often decide for the first application they receive because they are loaded with work and want to save time.
Visiting appointment organized by the property management company
However, this only works if the viewing date is organized by the current tenant. If it is an official viewing appointment on the part of the property management company, do not ask for a separate appointment. Then, as mentioned at the beginning, you should arrive very early. In any case, try to involve the employee(s) of the property management company in a short conversation during the visit. If you like the apartment, introduce yourself by name and express your interest.
How to apply properly
If you have found an apartment that you like, then submit your application to the corresponding property management company on the same day or at the latest on the day after the viewing date. Don’t lose any time, every minute counts! Try to stand out from the crowd and be sure to send all the required paperwork. You should submit the following documents to the property management company:
- Application form (you received it on the viewing date)
- Cover letter. Be personal and individual. Explain why you are the ideal tenant. Or which detail of the apartment you immediately fell in love with.
- Debt collection statement in the original. A debt collection statement can be ordered from the responsible debt collection office in your place of residence. The statement costs around 17 francs.
- Residence permit. If you are not Swiss, you must enclose a copy of your residence permit.
- You can also include a very short CV, but this is not a must.
- Letter of recommendation. A letter from the employer or current landlord is also helpful to underline your reliability. Especially if you are foreigner.
The tenants’ association (Mieterverband) helps
Unfortunately, due to the overheated housing market, there are cases of abuse of the rent. Especially when changing tenants, there are some landlords who unlawfully increase the rent out of greed for profit. In general, an increase of up to 10% is permitted. If you have any questions about your tenancy contract, the best way is double check it with the Tenants’ Association, which has a section in every canton. For a relatively small annual membership you can obtain legal information about the Swiss tenancy law.
A new apartment thanks to Swiss German
You don’t have to introduce yourself personally for a new apartment. But if, for example, a representative of the property management company is present at the viewing appointment, you can certainly score points by chatting in Swiss German with her. You’ll find the right vocabulary for renting and housing in our online dictionary, with over 20000 Swiss-German words. So, sign up today for our online course and get access to the largest Swiss-German dictionary.