Renting property in German-speaking Switzerland

Relocation specialist Roswitha van den Berg from Bridging Cultures Relocation has provided the following advice for British nationals looking to rent a property in German-speaking Switzerland.

Source: Aliman5040 via Wikimedia Commons

Relocation specialist Roswitha van den Berg from Bridging Cultures Relocation has provided the following advice for British nationals looking to rent a property in German-speaking Switzerland.In Switzerland, two out of 3 people live in rented accommodation. Most of the properties are unfurnished (kitchen and bathroom however are fully equipped). Furnished accommodation is becoming increasingly available, especially in cities/areas with larger international companies.1. How should a British person go about finding an apartment or house to rent in Switzerland?There are a number of webpages and newspaper ads that list properties, however everything is in German. As finding housing in general can be very difficult and time consuming even for a local person, we would suggest that they hire a relocation company to prepare and optimize the home search.It is very important to speak German in order to communicate with the agency/landlord. Some landlords are hesitant to rent out to foreigners as they expect communication problems during tenancy.Most places are still occupied and so cannot always be viewed at times convenient for you. The current tenant dictates the viewing times, unless he/she has terminated the lease early and needs to find someone to complete the contract. Then he/she might be more willing to open for viewing at times you request.2. What documents will I need to show?You will have to fill in an application form and declare information such as age, marital status, religion, profession, employer, salary, children, residency status, pets etc, and give one to three people who can be contacted by the agency for reference.To prove your ability to pay the rent it’s often necessary to provide an ‘Auszug aus dem Betreibungsregister’, a document that can be obtained at the local community office where you registered. The document will state that you have no debts (meaning you have paid your rent in time, paid all bills, there is no reported debt). However foreigners not yet living in Switzerland are often asked to bring proof from their home country.Have copies of passports for everyone moving in ready. Sometimes the agents/landlords ask for an employment confirmation or letter from employer or even the employment contract.3. Are there any particular difficulties or problems that British people encounter when trying to find a place to live in Switzerland?There are no specific difficulties for British people but in general they might have problems with finding/securing a property if they do not speak the language or are also unable to read German. All written materials (application forms, contract, general rules etc) are in German and have to be signed on the German version. Most of the advertisements/announcements are also in German only.