Housing prices in Switzerland are well-known for their being extremely high, so renting an apartment or other accommodation here is quite popular. However the procedure is not very simple. SUISSEPIC got some comments from those who succeed to rent a flat in Geneva.

Despite the fact that technically the procedure is simple, Geneva and Zürich remain to be the hardest cities to pass it. Let’s have a look what to do.

We are talking to Maria, who works for the UN Geneva.

You need to prove you financial and civil reliability as well as to find an apartment that you like. It should be free from claims coming to ‘regie’ from more attractive candidates.

Keep in mind that almost all housing stock in Geneva and Greater Geneva’s area is rented through ‘regie’, companies that obtained house management functions. Frankly speaking these companies could easily be called as ‘hellhounds’ by potential tenants. They are not interested in attracting a client at all, because the demand is super high. And this is a client who is interested to attract a ‘regie’ as much as possible. By a package of documents of course.

What does it include?

• last three payroll records
• Extrait du casier judiciaire, a certificate of non-conviction (in Switzerland) can be received in Office des Poursuites for CHF 20
• a passport and / or residence permit in Switzerland or a residence permit
• a written recommendation from friends / colleagues that you are a well-tolerated person

The ‘regies’ can act in a very creative way. Maria says, that a friend’s daughter was asked to draw a sketch for them. They also asked for a family photo. If you plan to share an apartment with someone else, keep in mind that your neighbor should collect the same documents and pass a “creative procedure”.

After bureaucratic issues are solved, you start visiting apartments with an agent. It is highly recommended to keep your dossier (see above) during all your visits and show it to the agents or people performing a sublease (sous-location). The more paper the better. It is a joke, of course.

Veterans burnt by their attempts to rent a flat in Geneva recommend hiring a professional realtor. This person should look for the announcements, negotiate, travel, ring up the regies, and convince them that you are not a camel. But it costs money, of course.

Good thing that a real estate market is nowadays less tense than a few years ago so you can manage all that on your own. Ah yes, French is very desirable when you want to rent a flat in Geneva. Highly! Even more important than a kid if you have him. When choosing between potential tenants, a regie is presumably more likely to give the preference to a family or couple with kids.

It is important to mention that most of the apartments in Geneva are being rented unfurnished (non meublé). TIt is common for a tenant who is leaving the apartment to propose to his/her successor to buy the furniture and/or washing machine. Usually washing and drying machines are installed in the basement and can be used according to the schedule by all the locataires (tenants) who live in the building.

When you finally get the keys from your new flat, it’s time for a procedure called lieux d’entrée et lieux de sortie – examination of the apartment’s condition by the regie upon arrival of the new tenant and withdrawal of the old one (the two events may or may not happen simultaneously).

All the defects or scratches are given their status in a special paper filled out by a regie’s representative: either état ordinaire, e / o (normal state) or état usagé, e / u (used). My friend said that when she was going through lieux d’entrée, the already less-than-perfect floor got an état ordinaire, and when she realized that, she was crawling there for hours taking photos of every single scratch to let the regie know that it was not her who scratched it.

You have to be very careful with the apartment. When you finally decide to leave it, a regie’s inspector will severely compare the condition due to the protocol. So this document should be kept during all time of your staying.

Regies are interested in you to sponsor a flat’s repair. Before you leave the apartment for good, you’re supposed to clean it inside out (or pay to regie who will organize it). You might want to hire a professional to do it for you.

Last but not least: CHECK THE CONDITIONS OF YOUR CONTRACT. It is normally prolonged automatically, so if at some point you decide to leave and do not wish to be bothered with looking for someone to take over your lease, you must send a special letter (lettre recommandée) to your regie not later than 3 months before the date of your contract’s annual expiration. And brace for lieux de sortie!

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