Termination of your lease contract
If you are fortunate enough to be reading this shortly after your arrival rather than just before your departure - and if you have read Step 11 regarding tenant responsibilities on arrival - you will be well prepared for leaving.
The preparation for a smooth departure begins almost as soon as you move in.
Provided that you have understood and applied the general terms and conditions of your lease contract throughout the tenancy, and applied some basic rules at the end, you will limit your liabilities and therefore also your costs.
- Check the contract terms and notice period
- Decide on your optimal departure date
- Send the termination letter
- Follow up if receipt is not acknowledged
- File confirmation of cancellation of lease contract, and general correspondence
Need to know
- Termination of your contract: Check your lease terms to know when is the earliest date you can terminate your lease contract. The possible termination dates are usually the last day of any given month (except December) but can also be restricted to quarterly periods (excluding 31 December). These quarterly end dates are usually 31 March, 30 June, 30 September, but can also be different
- The notice period is usually 3 or 4 months
- Lease contracts for houses often stipulate a longer cancellation period, often up to 6 months
- Should you wish to terminate your contract outside of the defined contractual dates/terms, this is possible. The law allows you to terminate a rental lease early, under the condition that a new tenant is found who is willing to take over your lease under the same terms and conditions
- If you wish to leave your home early, it is your responsibility to look for a new tenant. Some agencies will help by advertising, but they are not legally required to do so. It is best for you to speak to the agency to agree on the best course of action
- As soon as the agency has received your letter of termination, you will need to make the property available for visits so that the agency can find the next tenant
Important: your lease termination letter to the agency or landlord needs to be sent by registered mail and signed by all tenants mentioned on the lease contract.
How to proceed
1. First, gather all your documentation:
- Rental lease
- Paperwork on rental deposit account
- Handover protocol from when you took over your home
- Correspondence with agency/owner over the course of the rental period
- Bills relating to the property (electricity, internet, TV, phone, invoices for maintenance contracts)
- In case you are renting a house, you will most likely also have contracts for either oil or gas
Define the date at which you wish to vacate the property. Many lease contracts can be terminated to the end of every month (with the exception of December) by observing a 3 month notice period.
Example: if you want to leave the apartment on 31 July, your cancellation letter needs to reach the real estate agency or owner on the last working day of April at the very latest.
2. Send the cancellation letter by registered mail.
In the letter, clearly state the date at which you would like to terminate the contract as per the lease terms. Send the letter at least 7-10 days before the end of the month to be on the safe side. Also, ask for a confirmation of receipt of the cancellation letter.
Important: each adult who has signed the rental lease also needs to sign the cancellation letter. If not done so, the cancellation letter will not be accepted. This is to protect a spouse/partner in case of dispute/divorce. Follow up with the recipient of the cancellation letter after 10 days if you not have received confirmation of receipt.
Once you have cancelled the rental lease for your home, the real estate agency or owner will most likely start to advertise the property. You will need to show your home to people interested. It is best to agree on 3-4 days spread over some weeks. For example: viewings every second Friday between 17:00 and 18:00.
- Ensure you send the termination letter at least 7 days before the start of the notice period leading up to your desired cancellation date in compliancy with your lease terms
- Most notice periods are 3 or 4 full months leading up to the end of a month or a quarter (31 March, 30 June, 30 Sept). The notice period for an early cancellation is usually one full month if you find a tenant to take over the property
- Expect a confirmation of receipt within 10 days from the agency or landlord. If you do not receive a confirmation of receipt, follow up
Where to find help
Relocation service providers can help you prepare for the exit inspection and support you throughout the process.
Relocation service providers will:
- help you ensure that the real estate agent or owner is applying standard Swiss practices in the pre-exit and exit inspection process
- provide guidance in steps and timelines working up to the exit inspection
- clarify tenant contractual and maintenance responsibilities before and during the exit inspection
If you do not already have access to a professional relocation services provider through your employer, Hello Switzerland‘s free Relocation Helpline offers advice and support:
Swiss Relocation Helpline
- free advice from locals
How can you ensure your lease is terminated correctly?