Here are some practical tips for moving out of your apartment in Switzerland, from terminating your lease to forwarding your post.
1. Notify the landlord
The notice period is quite lengthy; it’s generally three months. When you give notice, it must be in writing, preferably by registered post. However, landlords may be flexible about the period if a new tenant is ready to move in.
2. Fix any damage
Check the condition of the property against the move-in inspection report. Repair any damage or make good any loss to avoid deductions to your security deposit. The level of cleanliness required can be very high so it may be best to have the apartment professionally cleaned. However, if you are doing this make sure you make payment conditional upon a successful handover of the apartment.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to produce a move-in inspection report; if one doesn’t exist and there is damage, you may find the burden of proof lies with the landlord. The majority of Swiss rent rather than own their properties (70%). As a result, the law often favors the tenant rather than the landlord. If you have evidence of the property’s poor condition, this is taken into consideration in any subsequent arbitration.
3. Move-out Inspection Report
This takes place on the day you are moving out, once the furniture has been removed. Either the landlord or by the management agent writes this up. You should be there when the inspection report is done to avoid any disputes about the state of the premises. Move-out inspection reports are governed by the Code des obligations, which includes an obligation on the part of the landlord to notify the tenant of any defects for which he is deemed responsible. You’ll learn of any issues very quickly.
4. Advise the authorities
Contact the commune in your current place of residence. Do this in plenty of time, as you may have to advise them in person. You also must inform your new commune but you can wait until after moving. Find out more from the Residents’ Registration Office.
You may also have to obtain a new residence permit if you move to a new canton. Obtain further information from the Federal Office for Migration. If you have a B permit, you must inform the Office Cantonal de la Population (OCP).
5. Service providers
Let all utility or service providers know that you are leaving including those supplying: electricity, gas, television, telephone, Internet services, insurance etc. In the case of water, gas, and electricity, your bill may transfer with you to your new Swiss address. Don’t forget to also advise Billag, the organization responsible for radio and TV licenses.
6. Re-direct your post
You can forward your mail to your new address by contacting Swiss Post and completing a change of address form. Do this at least seven days in advance.
As your vehicle registration is linked to your address, you must contact the cantonal office for vehicles. You can usually do this online. You still need to forward the corresponding documents.
Don’t forget you also have to change your driver’s license to your new address. You can do much of this online
8. Keep your bank account open
This will allow you your landlord to forward your deposit (less any deductions for damages). Additionally, keeping your account open enables subsequent transactions, such as refunds from utility providers or tax authorities. Remember though to cancel any standing orders or direct debits.
9. Get your deposit
This must not exceed three months’ rent. It should have been lodged by the landlord in a bank account in the tenant’s name. Once both you and the landlord agree, the bank returns the deposit, less any deductions but with the addition of any interest.
10. Return the keys
Don’t forget to give these back, either directly to the landlord or to the management agent. You may be entitled to a day’s statutory leave to help with moving; take advantage of this if you can. Once you hand the keys back, that’s it!