Accommodation in Switzerland is quite expensive and most people opt for renting a home, making competition high. Costs are especially high within the cities, including Zurich.
Accommodation is normally rented unfurnished. This means without light fittings, curtains, cabinets or furniture. A stove/oven and sink may be provided. In larger apartment blocks, there are often joint washing machines in the cellar/basement. That is why serviced apartments are a popular option for people staying for a year or two. However, these apartments are usually at the top price points.
The quality of serviced apartments here is high, with even the less-expensive offering a large array of amenities including high-speed Internet, security, and an choice of available services. If you choose to live in a serviced apartment, most landlords in Zurich will require you to pay at least two months' rent prior to moving in, made up of the first month's rent and a security deposit.
When searching for a place, note that the number of rooms does not include the kitchen or bathroom (but they are counted in the actual footage of the apartment). A one-room apartment means there is a combined living/sleeping space. A two-room apartment refers to a place with a separate bedroom.
The Swiss Statistics Office offers a basic average rents per month
Cities tend to be much more expensive. The average rent for an unfurnished 120-m2 apartment in Zurich is 2,800 euro per month.
Online listings can give you a feel for the market and allow you to determine if a place fits your specifications before you spend time going to look at it.
Several papers have a helpful classified's section. Announcements are usually in Neue Zurcher Zeitung in German. Look for the Kleinanzeigen/Petites annonces (classifieds section) and Immobilienteil/Immobilier (property). Vermietungen/Location refers to flats to rent.
There are often postings on public boards about rentals. There are bulletin boards in laundrettes, cafes, grocery stores, community centers, and bars all might have ads.
Expat and social forums and classified's are another resource for job seekers. You can get a realistic expectations of what it's like to live in Zurich as well as make helpful contacts. Check out Easy Expat's Classifieds as well as the forum to connect with expats there.
An estate agent (Makler, agences immobilieres)can be a useful resource for finding the right place quickly. Some (especially higher-priced) places in Zurich are only listed with an agency. A good agent knows the legal pitfalls and has access to a variety of housing. An agent will provide you with a description of available properties, escort you to viewings, make sure your contract complies with expected standards.
A registration fee of about CHF 50 is usually charged for an agent's services and usually covers 3 months of service. Once you have bought a house, a commission will be charged. The commission is dictated within a contract and is usually equal to one month's rent and should be specified by the agent in advance.
Rental contracts must be in writing. If the owner does not want to write out an agreement- insist. This is a vital step to protect yourself.
A deposit is usually necessary, and is usually equivalent to 1-3 months rent. This should also be stated in the contract. The landlord must lodge the deposit with a bank in the tenant's name. Properties should be inspected in the presence of the landlord before the keys are handed over and any issues discussed and noted in the contract.
For specific term contracts, the contract expires without any need for notice of termination at the end of the period set. If the parties continue the contract beyond expiry, the tenancy becomes a contract for indefinite duration. Perennial tenancy agreements are not allowed, and are automatically converted into agreements of indefinite duration.
In the case of an indefinite duration tenancy, a termination notice must be given by one of the parties. The law stipulates minimum terms:
In some cases, the law entitles both the landlords and the tenants to cancel the tenancy before its regular expiration date:
Upon leaving a property, you should again inspect it with the landlord and discuss any issues or necessary repairs. Damages are usually taken out of the deposit, and the remaining deposit returned.