Living for less money

Tip 1: Negotiate the rent
  • Whether you have just moved in or you have been living in your flat for quite a while: Serious damages at the property entitle to an adequate reduction of the rent according to Art. 259d of the Swiss code of obligations (OR) until the damage is remedied. Clear cases of such damages are leaky or drafty windows or malfunction of the heating or the kitchen equipment.

  • For further information contact the tenants' association

  • In the event of a mortgage interest reduction, the tenant is entitled to an corresponding reduction of the rent. In practise, however, the latter is barely performed. In such cases, as a tenant you may officially request a reduction. Exceptions are rent contracts with graduated rent, rents based on an index value ("Index-Mieten") or subsidised rents, where a continuous rent increase was previously agreed.

  • Tips from the tenants' association on requesting a reduction

  • The revision of the rent law provides for a separate treatment of rent and mortgage interest. Since September 2008 and until the completion of the revision a transitional phase has taken place, which determines an average mortgage interest rate as the interest reference rate for rents instead of the variable mortgage interest rate. The average mortgage interest rate will be calculated quarterly on the basis of the domestic mortgage claims from banks in Switzerland.

  • Further information in the leaflet of the Federal Housing Office

Tip 2: Make use of the saving potential with regard to taxes
  • Most cantons allow deducting taxes for the costs of using a private office at home. Provided that a significant part of the professional work is done at home on a regular basis. A deduction is not possible if the private office is only for personal comfort. Additional information can be obtained at the cantonal tax offices and at the Home Owners Association: Hauseigentümerverband (HEV).

Tip 3: Check your household effects insurance

Tip 4: Carefully check additional costs

Tip 5: Check the rent increase

  • Over time, the value of your household effects can change. The household effects calculator by examines whether your household is still adequately insured.
  • Save with your household effects insurance. The premium comparison by provides you with quotes from various insurance companies and enables you to directly compare them.
  • Check the calculation of the additional costs If payments on account are agreed on, the landlord is obliged to present a listing of all costs in detail every year. If you pay a flat rate, you can also ask your landlord for a declaration in written form. As a general rule, additional costs mustn't generate profit, but should be exclusively used for the actual cost recovery.
  • In order to be entitled to list charges besides the rent - such as janitorial services or elevator costs - as additional costs, the landlord has to specify them in the rent contract. Anything that is not stated in the rent contract, is deemed to be included in the rent. Some landlords suddenly try to incorporate positions which are not listed in the rent contract into the declaration of the additional charges. In this case, you can demand a correction from the landlord, since these costs should already be included in the rent. If the landlord insists on the additional charges, he or she has to amend the rent contract so as to be able to make his new claims legally effective.
  • Also check if there are unauthorised expenditures in the listing of the additional costs. Generally, value-enhancing costs such as investments in heating cost allocators are not to be enclosed. Furthermore, repairing charges for defective facilities or instalments in need of modernisation as well as public dues (e.g. contributions to path/pavement costs) are not authorised. However, all costs that are not value-enhancing (e.g. janitor services or elevator costs) are permissible.
  • As with additional costs, rent increases need to comply with legal requirements. An unsubstantiated "maintenance flat rate" is hence considered illegal. It has to be justified by means of figures. In addition, in most rent contracts, rising operating costs for heating and hot water are calculated separately by means of the additional costs. Therefore, in such cases a further rent increase is not justified, despite rising oil prices.