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 required is quite lengthy, generally three months and when you give notice it must be in writing, preferably by registered post. However, landlords may be flexible about the period required if a new tenant is ready to move in or indeed if you live in an area where available properties are scarce.
2. Fix any damage
Check the condition of the property against the Move-in Inspection report and 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 so 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 percent), so the law often favours the tenant rather than the landlord. If you have evidence of the property’s poor condition, such as photographs, this will be 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. It will be written by either the landlord or by the management agent. 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, so you will be made aware 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 will also have to tell your new commune but you can wait until after you have moved before you do this. You can find out more from the Residents’ Registration Office.
You may also have to obtain a new residence permit if you are moving to a new canton and you can obtain further information from the Federal Office for Migration. In addition if you have a B permit you will need to 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 address, if you continue to live in Switzerland. Don’t forget to also advise Billag, the organisation responsible for radio and TV licenses.
6. Re-direct your post
You can opt to forward your mail to your new address by contacting Swiss Post and completing a change of address form. This should be done at least 7 days in advance.
As your vehicle registration is linked to your address, you will need to contact the cantonal office for vehicles to change your vehicle registration. This can often be done online, although you will still need to forward the corresponding documents.
Don’t forget you will also have to get your driver’s license changed to your new address, although again, 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 will enable any subsequent transactions to be processed, such as refunds from utility providers or tax authorities. Remember though to cancel any standing orders or direct debits.
9. Get your deposit returned
This must not exceed three months rent and should have been lodged by the landlord in a bank account in the tenant’s name. Once both you and the landlord agree the deposit will be returned to you, 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 so take advantage of this if you can. Once you have handed the keys back, you’re done!