Rules and regulations

Airbnb and similar – what rules apply?

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Airbnb is an increasingly popular way of finding a subtenant. Source: iStock

Airbnb – the private accommodation booking platform – is now present in more than 190 countries. It is conquering Switzerland too. According to a survey by the Institute for Tourism at the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland, the number of properties on offer doubled over the past two years to 24,000 in January 2017. But the boom also throws up legal questions about subletting via such websites. 

A Zurich citizen hit the headlines by advertising his rented apartment on Airbnb at an excessive price, without notifying his landlord. The case ended up in court, with the result that the tenant had to cede his rental income to the landlord and is no longer permitted to advertise his apartment in future on Airbnb or any other platform. 

This case shows that tenants need to do some groundwork and clarify their situation before becoming landlords themselves. Advertising a rental apartment on Airbnb or a similar platform – such as Wimdu, 9flats or Housetrip – constitutes subletting and is only permitted on certain conditions. For example, the landlord must approve the subtenancy in advance. Otherwise, the tenant's contract could be terminated.

Ask the landlord and observe the rules on subletting

What's more, tenants need to inform the landlord of the conditions at which they advertise their apartment on the Airbnb platform. Landlords cannot simply ban subletting, that is, they cannot unjustifiably restrict tenants' right to use the apartment. To avoid any objections to subletting via Airbnb, we have compiled the most important information for you:

Material reasons for subletting being rejected

Landlords are not obliged to accept an excessive number of tenants, a change of use, expected noise problems or other disadvantages that may arise for them or the other tenants in the building. The reason for the strict rules is obvious: Landlords are entitled to select their tenants. If they no longer have any control over who goes in and out of their properties, and the number of subtenants proliferates, they are allowed to call a halt to the subletting.

  • A constant change in tenant can, for example, disturb the peace in the building, which might in turn disturb the other tenants. To say nothing of five party-goers sharing a two-room apartment.
  • The subletting must not be commercial and must not result in a profit. It must not be more than 10 percent higher than what the tenant pays himself.
  • Use of the apartment must correspond to the use set out in the contract. The landlord can, for example, object to a rental apartment being used as an office.
  • The tenant must intend to move back into the apartment himself – the landlord is not obliged to approve long-term subletting.

So if you want to benefit from the Airbnb trend, you need to lay out all your cards on the table first. The byword "What the owner doesn't know won't hurt him" could ultimately prove to be too risky.

Visitors tax, etc. 

The business model continues to blossom and is competing with classical tourism. As a result, Airbnb has been required to charge visitors tax in the canton of Zug since the summer – just like all other tourism operations. Agreements with other cantons are set to follow.

Conclusion: Travelling and offsetting your costs by subletting via Airbnb is a win-win situation. Moreover, if you follow a few rules, you can ensure that you're on the right side of the law. Subletting can indeed work without impacting relationships with the landlord and neighbours. That is crucial if you want to stay for a long time in your much-loved apartment.

Or are you looking for a new home? Then visit this site: Listings from the largest Swiss real estate websites with over 100,000 properties to rent or buy.