With more than 40% of foreigners, often tenants, and an estate of about 209,000 accommodations, the Canton of Geneva had in 2004 only ... 355 vacant flats and houses, i.e. 0,17%. That means that the market is really tense. According to the Office Fédéral de la Statistique (OFS), this situation is mainly due to two main reasons: the increase in population (with a growing number of companies setting up in the area) and the low level of new construction or development. As a consequence the price of accommodation is relatively high, the monthly rent can reach 600 CHF to 2500 CHF for 1 to 4 bedrooms, unfurnished, depending on the location, the quality of living and the surface area.
To live in the Canton of Geneva (the smallest in Switzerland), also means being very close to the city. Thus, whether you live in Bellevue, Collonge-Bellerive or Versoix, you do not spend more than 10 minutes to go to the center of Geneva by car. The main traffic jam point being, especially during the morning and evening rush hours, the Mont Blanc bridge, main way linking both banks of the Lake Geneva, in the city centre.
In addition, mind the airplane noise for towns along the international airport of Geneva, such as Collex Bossy, Genthod, Bellevue and Versoix. You can also choose to live in the close suburb (Cologny, Chênes-Bougeries, Meyrin, Grand-Saconnex, Veyrier, Carouge, Lancy,...) with practical transport links (choose to live on the side of the bank where you work, shop, go to school, etc). You will find a map of the Canton of Geneva to help you in your choice on the website: http://map.search.ch
After deciding on the location, you must define the type of accommodation that you are looking for: number of rooms, location, price, etc. In the Canton of Geneva, the kitchen is one of the rooms. For example, a 3 roomed property is made up of a kitchen (1), a living-room (2) and a bedroom (3). Bathrooms and toilets are not counted. In addition you will find the following words: carnozet (small room for fondue/melting cheese testing - usually in the basement), attique (last level of a building), traversant (with a view on both sides of the building).
In order to find addresses when you looking for accommodation, see our article: Finding accommodation. You will find the list of estate agencies on the website of the Société des Régisseurs de Genève (SR)
With your list of ads you will need to visit the list of accommodation. You should get an appointment with the agency, the concierge or the current tenant that must allow the visit of the flat. If the accommodation suits you, you will have then to check with the lessor potential maintenance needs. In Geneva, usage is to rent properties as they are (assuming that it is clean and functional).
During the inventory, you will mention defects that you noticed, and the landlord will indicate the work that he agrees to do. Take note that the Chambre Genevoise Immobilière (CGI) has published a form that can be used as a template for the contract, and that you can buy at the price of 5 francs each at 12, rue de Chantepoulet in Geneva, from 8.30am and 12.00pm, Monday to Friday. If defects are discovered later, the tenant must give notice to the landlord as quickly as possible, by recorded delivery letter. That contract will be useful when you leave the property and a similar inventory check will be carried out.
In order to prove that you can pay for the rent, you must provide some documents:
It is only after positive advice of the estate agency and of the landlord that you will become the next tenant.
The lease is signed for a 1 year period (you must pay 12 months of rent). At the end of the contract, the lease is renewed automatically for another period of 1 year. In order to leave the accommodation, you must address a letter to the landlord, with a notice of 3 months. You can leave before the period of 1 year if you can find a replacement tenant that the owner accepts. You can also ask, during the signing of the lease, to benefit from a breaking clause, reserved to employees of international companies or diplomats to be able to be freed from you obligation to pay quicker.
The rent has to be paid at the begining of the month. Usually you have also to pay a deposit (up to 3 months of the rent) that will be given back when you leave the property.