Sublet

A sublet is a lease agreement that binds the main tenant to the subtenant.

Subletting is legal, however it must be announced to the lessor (landlord or régie).

Article 262 par.2 of the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO) states that the lessor may refuse consent only if there are legitimate reasons, such as:

  1. if the tenant refuses to disclose the terms of the sublease
  2. if the terms of the sublease, compared to the main lease agreement, are excessive
  3. if the sublease creates major drawbacks for the lessor.

Please note that even if the lessor agrees to the sublet, it does not officially recognize the subtenant since there is no direct contract between them. In other words, the subtenant is simply tolerated by the lessor. The tenant remains the one responsible towards the lessor for any risks in regards to the rented property (late rent payment, damages…).

If the sublet is not announced to the lessor, the tenant, and therefore its subtenant too, is exposed to the risk of an early termination of the main lease, with a 30 days notice for the end of a month (art. 257f par.3 CO). However, the lessor who incidentally learns the existence of a sublet must first demonstrate its refusal in writing by requiring the tenant to comply with legal requirements. If the rent increase is excessive, extraordinary termination by the lessor can be authorized, without having to provide evidence of the unbearable nature of maintaining the lease (art. 266g par.1 and 262 par.2 let.c CO). An increase of rent is considered excessive if the amount of the sublet is 20% more than the main lease contract, the furnishing of the apartment being taken into consideration. An amendment to the lease(avenant) for separate furniture rental is illegal.

It is expected of the tenant to have a real intention to return to the rented property in the future. In other words, subletting cannot be used as a mean to covertly transfer a lease contract. The law also states that the tenant should not take advantage of the sublease for enrichment and therefore contribute to an artificial increase in rents.

In order to protect oneself against early termination (of the main lease) or being victim of abuse, it is strongly recommended that any subtenant shall, before signing a sublease contract, be sure that the tenant received the lessor's approval.


FAQ

Q: As a subtenant, should I subscribe to liability insurance (assurance RC)?
A: Yes, it is recommended to have such insurance, even if the tenant is supposed to have one.

Q: The tenant asked me to pay a deposit of two months rent in cash, is this standard?
A: The guarantee can be equivalent to up to three months rent, but should never be paid in cash. The guarantee will be blocked on a special bank account.

Q: Are they major inconvenience for the lessor in case of sublease?
A: Some of them would be: if there is an over-occupation of the sublet, if the tenant is obviously no longer able to pay the rent, if the subtenant is using the rented property for another usage (massage parlour for example).

Q: During the lease period, a problem regarding a point not mentioned in the sublease contract occurs. What terms apply?
A: If a point is not clearly stated in the lease, one should refer to the "General Conditions and Rental Rules and Practice" (Conditions Générales et Règles et Usages Locatifs) in force in the concerned canton.

Q: What is the usual notice period for cancelling a sublet?

A: Generally, the notice of termination is 3 months before the end of the contract, but very often, a sublease usually being of short duration, a notice period of one month for the end of a month is agreed between the parties and specified in the sublease contract.