Sourcing a rental property


Figure out where to look for rental properties, how to apply, how to avoid pitfalls and how to understand the lease contract. Over 95% of Switzerland's rental market is run by real-estate agencies who work for the landlords.

  • Define location and budget
  • Collect application documents
  • Proceed with home search
  • Apply for lease

Need to know

  • The first come first served principle does not apply. Real-estate agencies will filter candidates based on income, family situation and first impressions, amongst other criteria
  • Agencies like quiet, respectable tenants who pay their rent on time
  • Agencies will only consider applicants whose monthly gross salary equates to a minimum of 4 times the monthly rent. In the event of 2 earners in the family, their salaries will be combined
  • For ethical/social reasons, very high earners will not necessarily be given leases for properties with a moderate rent
  • All adult occupants must be listed on and sign the rental contract. This is to protect all parties and to guarantee that the lease is not terminated without common consent
  • Only apply to one apartment per agency
  • Once a lease is signed, withdraw any other pending applications to avoid being charged a penalty

How to proceed

  • First, prepare numerous copies of your application documents:
    • Passport copies (all adults)
    • Statement of absence of debt from your local cantonal authority (only for people who have been living in Switzerland for more than 6 months)
    • Employment contract or confirmation of salary
    • Work and residence permit
  • Start the search through local agency websites and other sites including: Homegate, Immostreet and Comparis
  • Visit the properties either through an organised group visit or upon appointment with the agency/landlord (dress smart casual for viewings)
  • Remain courteous at all times, make compliments and make a positive impression. If you are interested, collect or download the lease request forms from the agency or agency website
  • Complete the lease request form and personally submit it or post it as soon as possible, ideally on the same day
  • Make sure contact details are clearly provided
  • If you are viewing the apartment with the exiting tenant, leave them a copy of your application to send to the agency. Ask for the name of the contact person at the agency and send them a copy too
  • Follow up a couple of days later to ensure that your form has been received and is being processed
  • Remain polite and patient
  • Before signing the lease, carefully review the lease terms and ensure you are clear with regards to cancellation terms and contractual obligations


Expected timeframe

  • Lease contracts typically begin on the 1st or 15th of every month
  • Applications should be handed in on the day of the visit
  • Answers from the agency can be expected within one week of applying or at the latest within a week of the advertised lease start date
  • Refer to the Step in this section (Permanent Housing) titled "Taking over a rental property" to learn about managing the timeline between lease signature and property handover

Where to find help

Relocation service providers can help you find permanent accommodation and support you throughout the process.

Using a relocation services provider is particularly recommended if you have little time to invest in the search/application process, and wish to maximise both time efficiency and chances of a successful housing application.

What part of town is right for you? How can you get ahead and be successful? We have the answers!


Let the experts handle it for you

Carole Javet and her team of relocation consultants at Packimpex will secure the home you want anywhere in Switzerland. You can also count on them for support with essential settling in services.


How much does it cost

  • A fee of up to CHF 200 may be charged for establishing the lease contract
  • In the event of a withdrawal after the lease has been drafted (even unsigned), the agency may charge a penalty fee
  • A budget equivalent to 4.5 times the monthly rent of the property should be at your disposal in the last weeks running up to the handover date to cover the first month's rent, the security deposit (3 months rent maximum) and other minor expenses

Take control of your relocation

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