In certain cases tenants may apply to their landlord in writing (by registered post) for a rent reduction. You may apply for a rent reduction when there is a significant change in the basis for calculating the rent, e.g. a cut in the reference interest rate. The landlord has 30 days to respond. After 30 days, you can contact the conciliation authority if necessary.
If you notice when you move in that you are paying significantly more than the previous tenants, you have 30 days to challenge the starting rent through the conciliation authority. You should also contact the conciliation authority within 30 days if you are forced to terminate your rental agreement due to personal hardship or the situation in the local housing market. You must, however, continue to pay your rent or arrange through the conciliation authority to withhold rent from the landlord by paying rent on deposit.
If your apartment falls in value (e.g. due to shortcomings or construction work), you can request a reduction in rent until the situation is rectified.
The landlord may raise your rent at any time starting from the next possible termination date. However, they must comply with certain rules (they must give notice, usually 3 months plus 10 days; they must notify you using a form authorised by the canton; they must justify the increase).
Your landlord must give you a clear explanation for raising your rent. Justifiable reasons could be an increase in the reference interest rate, inflation, increased maintenance costs or an investment that increases the value of the property e.g. the installation of additional kitchen appliances.
If you have doubts about the fairness of the increase, you should contact your canton’s conciliation authority, which will be able to advise you and act as the coordinating body if you decide (within 30 days) to dispute the increase. Your landlord cannot terminate your rental agreement if you decide to do this because you are protected by law. You must, however, continue to pay your rent or arrange through the conciliation authority to withhold the rent from the landlord by paying rent on deposit.
Cantonal conciliation boards (information, advice, documentation)
Your canton’s conciliation authority offers information and advice to both tenants and landlords and can issue you with any application forms you need.
Tenants’ and landlords’ associations
The tenants’ and landlords’ associations also assist tenants and landlords with their respective concerns and interests in matters relating to rent.