Lunchtime and nighttime quiet periods in Switzerland: what are the rules on noise nuisance?

You don’t have to put up with all of your neighbours’ noise – and vice versa. Comparis explains what quiet periods apply in Switzerland, and how to avoid trouble.

Lara Surber Foto
Lara Surber

06.02.2024

A man in bed looking at his alarm clock in the middle of the night.

iStock/Motortion/Comparis

1.What law governs noise nuisance in Switzerland?
2.These official quiet times apply in Switzerland
3.What do the Swiss regard as disturbing the peace?
4.May I vacuum on a Sunday?
5.How to avoid trouble with the neighbours
6.What can I do about noisy neighbours?

1. What law governs noise nuisance in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, there is no general law on noise nuisance. There are many noise regulations, however. These are found in the regulations of condominium owners’ associations, in the house rules for rental apartments, in the Swiss Civil Code as well as in police and communal regulations.

2. These official quiet times apply in Switzerland

The times when you must be quiet (known as quiet periods) may vary slightly depending on where you live. In the city of Zurich, for example, the nighttime quiet period begins one hour later on Friday and Saturday during summer (from 11 p.m.). In most cases, however, the following applies:

  • The nightly rest period is between 10 pm and 6 am in many places in Switzerland. Whether you are talking or listening to music, noises cannot exceed room volume at night.

  • An additional lunchtime rest period generally applies between 12 noon and 1 pm.

  • Sundays and public holidays are considered quiet periods.

3. What do the Swiss regard as disturbing the peace?

We all perceive noise differently. That’s why there is such potential for conflict. Normal volume for some stop others from sleeping.

There is no clear definition of disturbing the peace in Switzerland. Art. 684 of the Civil Code only states: “In exercising their ownership rights [...], everyone is obliged to refrain from any excess detrimental influence to neighbouring properties.” 

The following are forbidden: “In particular all harmful effects that are not justified [...] such as air pollution, emissions of noxious vapours, noise, vibrations, radiation or the deprivation of sunlight or daylight.”

4. May I vacuum on a Sunday?

Some noise regulations explicitly mention vacuuming as an example of noise that is not allowed. Do the regulations applicable to you not contain specific examples? In that case: do not do any loud work in or around the house during quiet periods, including Sundays. 

This includes, for example, drilling and hammering, mowing the lawn or noisy housework such as vacuuming. Do these things on Saturday or during the week instead – always outside of quiet periods, of course.

5. How to avoid trouble with the neighbours

What do the provisions of the Civil Code mean in practice? In the interests of getting along with neighbours in peace: the rule in Switzerland is avoid unnecessary noise and tolerate permissible noise, not just during quiet periods.

Use common sense and do not expect your neighbours to put up with anything that you wouldn’t. If you want to have a party, it’s best to inform your neighbours in advance. The same applies to unavoidable noise at lunchtime. This could be from tradespeople working in your home, for example.

By warning people in advance, you show you care about the rules and regulations.

6. What can I do about noisy neighbours?

Do your neighbours disturb you regularly by making noise during quiet periods? If so, try to talk to them about it. If that doesn’t help, there are other options.

Contact the property manager for your building

If your neighbours don’t quiet down, as a tenant you should let the property management company know and describe the problem. It helps here if you log the noise accurately.

Ask your landlord or management company to take action against future nuisance noise from the neighbour. Regular noise beyond acceptable levels is regarded as a fault of the property. For such a fault, you can request a rent reduction. The Swiss Tenants’ Association can provide further information.

When can I call the police about a noise disturbance?

As an immediate measure (e.g. if the neighbour is violating the official nighttime quiet period), you can also call the police. They can issue a warning, but cannot issue fines. A fine can only be imposed if you make an official report. Don’t forget you can also call the police anonymously. 

However, bear in mind: calling the police is unlikely to solve the problem in the long term.

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A dispute with neighbours can often lead to legal consequences. Legal expenses insurance protects you from financial consequences.

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This article was first published on 21.01.2019

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