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Old 10.04.2008, 14:38
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Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

Is discrimination in the rental market legal in Switzerland -- ie, is it legal for a landlord to not rent out to a potential tenant due to nationality, work permit status, marital status, or for any other non-valid reason? By this, I mean that the tenant is liquid, debt-free, drug-free, STD-free, and not a criminal?

I ask this, because it is explicitly illegal in the US, and a friend and I have been told on several occasions that certain apartments are not allowed to be rented as flatshares -- which in my view discriminates against poor single folk looking to save a buck in favor of married/engaged couples.

If this kind of discrimination is legal, anyone interested in a quickie marriage?
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Old 10.04.2008, 14:40
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

Yes. It's his house, he rents to whom he wants.
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Old 10.04.2008, 14:41
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

Hey! well Im sorry to tell you, I dont know "the law" but that is def. the way things happen here in CH. You can have 20 people looking at the apt, but if are a foreigner, etc then you might be outsted.
I dont know how long hav eyou been here, but that pretty much (sadly) is the norm here, discrimination at work, places etc (if you are a woman, married, black, etc).
Dont worry you will find something. Good luck
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Old 10.04.2008, 14:44
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

As soon as you have more than one applicant then you automatically discriminate... whether you want it or not.
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Old 10.04.2008, 14:52
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

3.5 years ago , while looking for a place to stay , we were informed by an estate agent in Brütisellen that we could not rent the apartment that was available as there were already 2 ausländer families in the house .... Sort of like a quota system ....
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Old 10.04.2008, 14:59
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

It is their country in Switzerland. If we want to live here, we
have to follow the system. We were recently not given an
apartment. I.e. The Swiss picked a "more desirable" couple
to live there.

I rent my duplex in the US out, and I pick the tenant that
I think will be the best. I.e. drug-free, stable job, not loud

Legally in the US, you can only discriminate on income. That
is one way people exclude "undesirables".
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:05
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

I know discrimination happens, but my question (more curiosity than something that will spawn an actionable item) is whether it is allowed as per the letter of the law. In particular, the question is whether landlords can disqualify you because you want to share the place with a friend, as opposed to a partner/fiance/spouse.

Discrimination is technically illegal in the US, but it still happens; however, if you can prove that you were disqualified due to any reason other than criminal / credit history, there are big consequences for the landlord.

Shorrick, I agree that once more than one person applies the landlord will in one way or another discriminate -- but this should be done on a payability basis, not a "who I'd like to have in the apartment" basis. If I've got loads of cash and a squeaky-clean criminal record, I should be given the apartment based on that alone, and not because of my nationality, gender. or because I'm a hermit and thus will live in solitude and absolute silence.

Not being allowed to rent an apartment due to the fact that you're planning on sharing it with a friend (as opposed to a spouse, fiancée, or alone) is discrimination unrelated to payability of rent or criminal history. Both parties will be on the contract, thus are equally responsible for payment, damages, etc.

Maybe I should find a nice streetwalker, pay her for her time and tell the landlord we're engaged. Where's the proof?
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:06
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

It might also have to do with the fact that foreigners might be more likely to move out than the locals?

Last edited by paulita; 12.04.2008 at 19:57.
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:06
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

I have heard stories where some potential tenants have had to go before a residents committee.
I must admit, it would be nice to have an element of choice about who you live in close proximity to. I have had a couple of very bad experiences when a "family from hell" suddenly appeared in our apartment block.
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:09
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

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I Shorrick, I agree that once more than one person applies the landlord will in one way or another discriminate -- but this should be done on a payability basis, not a "who I'd like to have in the apartment" basis.

Why would that be?
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:11
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

Quote:
I know discrimination happens, but my question (more curiosity than something that will spawn an actionable item) is whether it is allowed as per the letter of the law. In particular, the question is whether landlords can disqualify you because you want to share the place with a friend, as opposed to a partner/fiance/spouse.
There is no way you can enforce this in Switzerland. That is just not how it works here. Sorry but it is better to let you know now. On whether it is legal, I vaguely recall that someone, perhaps Richard, once mentioned in a thread that the legal basis on which people can fight discrimination in Switzerland is minimal compared to some countries.

So the law is not much on your side here, if at all, and second, no one expects the landlord not to be able to exercise their preferred choice; I think that is regarded here as a right of the landlord that overrules anything else. My former landlord shares the house with his tenants, and he is part of a young, well-off working couple. They were definitely looking for similar minded people, i.e., a young professional couple. I cannot fault them for it, it is their house. (They definitely would have refused a flat share).
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:14
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

The question is whether they follow their own system...

Plus, the whole "it's their country, we have to follow the rules" is total cop-out. I respect cultural differences to a point, but oddly enough I'm finding that the blatant xenophobia in this country is turning me into more of the loud, obnoxious American they seem to have in mind. Thank the Swiss for turning me into what they think I am in the first place...


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It is their country in Switzerland. If we want to live here, we
have to follow the system.....
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:21
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

Switzerland is certainly quite xenaphobic... There is quite a free reign and there are not many anti-discrimination laws (Richard or any other legal genius feel free to correct me...)

Having said that, I have noticed that there is a slow change among Landlords and a lot are very open and friendly towards foreigners while many or not. The problem with housing is just that there is a limited supply. Many things go "under the table" ie a friend of a friend knows someone etc.

But if it makes you feel any better, the swiss also discriminate among themselves...
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:24
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

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Discrimination is technically illegal in the US, but it still happens; however, if you can prove that you were disqualified due to any reason other than criminal / credit history, there are big consequences for the landlord.

Not being allowed to rent an apartment due to the fact that you're planning on sharing it with a friend (as opposed to a spouse, fiancée, or alone) is discrimination unrelated to payability of rent or criminal history. Both parties will be on the contract, thus are equally responsible for payment, damages, etc.
Let's not go into political correctness and anti-discrimination paranoia. Why should only "payability" and criminal history be the only criterion for renting the place? This is just one step from enforcing that one every 2 tenants should be a women or should have different skin colour.

The landlord is the owner of the place and he might not want to rent place to the people:
- who smoke
- who look as if they would be noisy
- who "look suspicious" (for him)
- have blue shoes
- ...

And it was already mentioned in the thread - as soon as there is choice - the "discrimination" appears. If all the applicants agrees to the financial conditions then why should we resort to the 'first in first served' method? We have all the details about this people and can choose the ones that we think are the best:
- potentially long term rent
- locals vs foreigners (again the mobility)
- blue shoes...

I think that nobody wants the paranoia that when renting a place, hiring/firing someone one would have to be afraid of the "anti-discrimination" laws.
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:29
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

Yeah, I've found that, which is tough for a foreigner. I've already exhausted the friends angle, so I'm pretty much out there with the umpteen million others looking for a flat on Homogate. To make things worse, the colleague I'm looking with doesn't have a definitive answer on his permanent contract, so things remain in limbo.

I guess I'm just surprised that the market has apparently remained relatively low-supply, high demand for some time. Yes, you've seen new complexes come up recently, but very much in moderation. If this were in the US, you'd have some crazy entrepreneurs/property developers turn the market from what it is now to oversaturated with apartments almost overnight...while giving an incredible boost to the local economy, what with gentrification, totally new cultural centers and whatnot.



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...Many things go "under the table" ie a friend of a friend knows someone etc. ..
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:34
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

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Let's not go into political correctness and anti-discrimination paranoia...
The problem is that I don't smoke, am not noisy (or certainly don't appear so), am not suspicious, and wear blue shoes, so to speak. I work for a respectible multi-national corporation in finance, so it's not like I'm some weird marketing hippy, either... The only thing I can think of to speak against me is that I am a foreigner. It's not like I'm one of those funny looking punks you see all over the place in Zurich...

And I don't believe the whole long-term tenant spiel, either...If the market is so low-supply, high demand, can't you just wave a rental contract out the window and get 20 people in a day? If so, what's the big deal with mobility? It gives you a chance to improve the apartment and increase rent.
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:39
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

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And I don't believe the whole long-term tenant spiel, either...If the market is so low-supply, high demand, can't you just wave a rental contract out the window and get 20 people in a day? If so, what's the big deal with mobility? It gives you a chance to improve the apartment and increase rent.

But maybe the owner doesn't like the idea of you renting his place... Maybe he has some reasons which for you would sound bizarre (maybe he doesn't like your company, etc.). And that's it - as he has other alternatives to chose when renting.
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:44
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

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The only thing I can think of to speak against me is that I am a foreigner.
You hit the nail on the head.
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:52
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

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I know discrimination happens, but my question (more curiosity than something that will spawn an actionable item) is whether it is allowed as per the letter of the law. In particular, the question is whether landlords can disqualify you because you want to share the place with a friend, as opposed to a partner/fiance/spouse.

Discrimination is technically illegal in the US, but it still happens; however, if you can prove that you were disqualified due to any reason other than criminal / credit history, there are big consequences for the landlord.

Shorrick, I agree that once more than one person applies the landlord will in one way or another discriminate -- but this should be done on a payability basis, not a "who I'd like to have in the apartment" basis. If I've got loads of cash and a squeaky-clean criminal record, I should be given the apartment based on that alone, and not because of my nationality, gender. or because I'm a hermit and thus will live in solitude and absolute silence.

Not being allowed to rent an apartment due to the fact that you're planning on sharing it with a friend (as opposed to a spouse, fiancée, or alone) is discrimination unrelated to payability of rent or criminal history. Both parties will be on the contract, thus are equally responsible for payment, damages, etc.

Maybe I should find a nice streetwalker, pay her for her time and tell the landlord we're engaged. Where's the proof?


In the US, we are so politically correct, and most of us behave as
we "should". In Europe, there is much less political correctness,
and people tend to say more what they think.

Personally, I agree with you, especially since I was just denied
an apartment. Someone "more desirable" took the apartment.

You probably will not get much sympathy on the forum.
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Old 10.04.2008, 15:55
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Re: Discrimination in rental market legal in Switzerland?

When I first arrived I registered with the UZH/ETH housing service, which has properties on their books which are supposedly not for advertising elsewhere. Nice, right?
Till I got to the place, and the only other viewer was not only Swiss, middle aged and likely not a member of the Uni communities, but also did the whole 3 kisses thing with the owner - and basically it was a sealed deal before I even turned up. Unsurprisingly didn't even receive acknowledgement of my application.

Now, should I stay longer, and decide to upgrade my dwelling - will I be in the same boat for discrimination, or will time spent here (with a Swiss reference and established Betreibungsauszug) count towards me?
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