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Old 20.07.2019, 19:20
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Renting for the first time in Zurich

Hi everyone!

I was looking around the forum but I couldn't find the answer to my questions.

I recently moved to Zurich, I've got a work permit B and a job contract and so does my boyfriend. We've been living with my parents for a few months since we got to Zurich. Now it's time to move to our own place since we need our space.
I was reading in the forum that you need a recommendation letter from your last landlord. This is our first time renting in Switzerland, so do I ask my parents to write us a recommendation letter? We're registered to their address, do we ask their estate agents to recommend us or do we have to contact our landlord in UK for that?

On the document that you're not in debt, if we only lived in Zurich for a few months, do we need to ask for it or do we need one from the UK saying we dont owe anything there?

Is there more possibilities to get a flat with or without swisscaution?

And last one, will we have less possibilities of getting offered a flat as we haven't been living in Switzerland for a long time? (like 6 months by the time we want to move in)

Thank you!!
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Old 20.07.2019, 19:57
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Re: Renting for the first time in Zurich

EVERYONE, except those in the very top rental segments, finds it tedious to search for and find a flat. Therefore, keep on good terms with your parents, so that they will continute to allow you to stay there while you search.

You should have a rental contract with your parents. If they are living in a rented home, then they are sub-letting to you. If you have not already done so, set up that contract, retrospectively, and pay the rental you and your parents agree on. Yes, they are your landlords and they can write you a reference. Main positive attributes: pays rent punctually, is quiet and considerate, does not smoke, does not drink, makes use of the shared spaces carefully, greets the neighbours respectfully, obeys the house rules of the building.

Not all new landlords actually ask to see this reference. Some phone the previous landlords to ask. Some don't bother. But you should get all your paperwork ready, properly.

Yes, also get whatever references from the UK that you can, both from a previous landlord and to do with no debt. Have these translated into German (if you're staying in this part of the country).

Even if you have lived in Switzerland for only a short time, yes, do get your Betreibungsregisterauszug (certificate of no debt) from where you are now registered.

Since you and your partner are not married, you will need a full set papers for both of you. Think about whether one or both of you are going to sign the rental contract. If both, then the landlord will require of you to sign "jointly and severally", meaning that if one of you ever defaults, the other can be required to pay in full. The landlord is not interested in your personal arrangement, between the two of you, of how you split the rent. They must get the full amount from one of you, each month. If separately, then one of you will be the landlord, and the other the tenant (as you are now tenants of your parents who are your landlords). Put EVERYTHING about this arrangement between yourselves in writing.

On applications for a flat, always specify that you are solvent, have a job, and have a valid permit to live here. Specify that this applies to both of you.

Most rental contracts require a deposit of one to three months' rent. If you can avoid swisscaution, and use your own money, or borrow (with a formal agreement) from your parents, it will be cheaper for you.

Join the Mieterverband (the tenants' rights association) right away. It is very cheap, and they provide free members legal advice about rentals, should you ever need it.
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Old 20.07.2019, 20:10
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Re: Renting for the first time in Zurich

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You should have a rental contract with your parents. If they are living in a rented home, then they are sub-letting to you. If you have not already done so, set up that contract, retrospectively, and pay the rental you and your parents agree on. Yes, they are your landlords and they can write you a reference. Main positive attributes: pays rent punctually, is quiet and considerate, does not smoke, does not drink, makes use of the shared spaces carefully, greets the neighbours respectfully, obeys the house rules of the building.
My parents aren't subletting us the flat. We're not paying rent and we're not interested in the contract.
They have a contract with the estate agents and they're the ones that pay rent. They informed the estate agents that we reside in the flat with them and they sent the document to the Gemeinden. They're not our landlords and we're not tenants, we're just staying with them at their flat.
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Old 20.07.2019, 20:27
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Re: Renting for the first time in Zurich

That's a big mistake. Both for the emotional clarity of the relationship(s) in all directions, and also because it now leaves you without any documentation… exactly the documentation you will now need. But you can draw it up retrospectively, and get everything in order.

If you both have jobs, you're adults, and so it's most unusual for you not to be contributing to the costs of where you live.

Looking for a flat can take a long time, sometimes many, many months, and it might be wise to think about how long everyone's going to carry on feeling happy with a "free" arrangement.
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Old 20.07.2019, 21:35
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Re: Renting for the first time in Zurich

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That's a big mistake. Both for the emotional clarity of the relationship(s) in all directions, and also because it now leaves you without any documentation… exactly the documentation you will now need. But you can draw it up retrospectively, and get everything in order.

If you both have jobs, you're adults, and so it's most unusual for you not to be contributing to the costs of where you live.

Looking for a flat can take a long time, sometimes many, many months, and it might be wise to think about how long everyone's going to carry on feeling happy with a "free" arrangement.
No offence, but how I manage things in my personal life is my business and I haven't asked for that type of advice. I don't really understand why some people tend to give moral advice without anyone asking. Anyway, have a nice evening
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Old 20.07.2019, 21:57
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Re: Renting for the first time in Zurich

I agree with your criticism, that I was giving advice into your personal situation. I was reacting from my shock. Perhaps I should not have done so.

From the point of view of your needing the right documentation to help you in your search for a flat, my advice stands.

From the point of view of being perceived, by a prospective landlord, as credible, reliable, responsible tenants, also.

EDIT: Being able to show that you have an existing rental contract that you have always fulfilled is a good thing. Having a landlord who will testify to being satisfied with this is also good. I have been present at a viewing where an applicant was told not to bother applying because she did not already have a rental contract; they didn't want newbies. Like being employed when applying for a job looks better than when applying while unemployed. I think this past reputation is totally irrelevant to some landlords who don't bother to research their tenants' background stories, yet perceived as critical by others. One just doesn't know, though, when applying, so best to have everything lined up.

Last edited by doropfiz; 21.07.2019 at 01:09. Reason: adding last paragraph starting "Being able to show..."
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Old 20.07.2019, 22:32
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Re: Renting for the first time in Zurich

Think the question is more is such a document really needed? I mean we didn't have such when we first came here because we didn't rent, period. But that was 20 years ago. I guess it depends on how competitive it is to get whatever property you're interested in. The more documentation you can provide to prove you'll be a good tenant will help your chances of securing a place over everyone else who's vying to get the property.
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Old 20.07.2019, 23:02
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Re: Renting for the first time in Zurich

The more remote, or the more expensive, the less the competition for a place to rent.

Here are some images of
warteschlange besichtigung wohnung Zürich

which means
queues viewing flat Zurich

https://www.google.ch/search?q=warte...w=1536&bih=710
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Old 21.07.2019, 11:46
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Re: Renting for the first time in Zurich

I didn't need such a document because it was clear I was first moving out my parents' place.
Can a fake piece of paper with your parents really change their opinion? I'm not sure...
It was also a guy who managed his building personally and just invited you for an interview and if he liked you you got it if he didn't you didn't, and made sure I had a good paying job, period.
With agencies it might be different.

@doropfiz you're making assumption about OP's family culture, e.g. in latin countries it's absolutely the norm to stay for free with your parents until you manage to move out comfortably.
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Old 21.07.2019, 11:50
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Re: Renting for the first time in Zurich

I can see that I expressed myself poorly.

I didn't mean to be making an assumption about OP's family culture, nor to cause offence, and I'm sorry that I seem to have done that.

My hope was to help explain something of the Swiss perspective and culture, and to provide tips from what I have seen work, in Switzerland, since some, but admittedly by no means all, of the potential agents and landlords will be conservative Swiss people.
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Old 21.07.2019, 13:52
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Re: Renting for the first time in Zurich

Everyone has to start somewhere, right? Why not include a letter with the application to say you've been living in the family home and if the agency has questions they can contact a specific person. Paying the deposit in cash instead of using swisscaution would also look better in the sense you'd look more financially stable. In terms of the debt register extract, just request it. You've been there a few months and it should not show any debts.
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Old 31.07.2019, 14:13
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Re: Renting for the first time in Zurich

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I didn't need such a document because it was clear I was first moving out my parents' place.
Can a fake piece of paper with your parents really change their opinion? I'm not sure...
It was also a guy who managed his building personally and just invited you for an interview and if he liked you you got it if he didn't you didn't, and made sure I had a good paying job, period.
With agencies it might be different.

@doropfiz you're making assumption about OP's family culture, e.g. in latin countries it's absolutely the norm to stay for free with your parents until you manage to move out comfortably.




Can anyone recommend an agency?


I'm trying to move from Schaffhausen to Zurich, but my all applications are being declined (most of the time I don't even get a feedback).
I have enough income to support the rent (<30%), have a B permit, work for an international company and my contract does not have an ending point.
I don't know what else to do
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Old 31.07.2019, 15:54
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Re: Renting for the first time in Zurich

Hi OP, I hope you are still reading your thread.


I moved here 7.5 years ago and rented a room for 6 months from a guy who was the main tenant (and we are still friends today). Between me and him we did have a sublease contract.


BUT - I did not have a recommendation or reference letter from him when I went flat-hunting. I simply looked on homegate.ch and my current apartment is the very first one I viewed. There were MANY people viewing and I was the only foreigner. People were talking amongst themselves and there was a laywer, a banker, someone who worked at ETH etc, all with good jobs and I really thought I had a slim chance.


We all submitted our applications on the day, and what I did have was a letter from my HR (I guess it did help that I work for a large well known firm) confirming my employment and that I have an open contract. I also submitted a reference letter from my landlord from the country I lived in prior to moving to Zurich, but I don't think that made such a big difference.


The landlord told all of us that he and his wife (who was also present at the viewing) will go through all the applications and that he will call each and every one of us with the outcome after the weekend. I got a call on Monday afternoon, that the flat is mine if I still wanted it Of course I said YES! Then with a friendly voice he continued "You were not our first choice. We called our first choice in the morning, but no answer. We called again during lunch and no answer. We called again just now and no answer, so my wife and I decided to call our second choice and you answered immediately. it is yours "


I had also heard house-hunting is extremely difficult in Zurich so I had not expected this at all. I live in a beautiful altau, with 3.6m ceiling, original squeaky floors but modern kitchen and bathroom with own washing/tumbler and most of all, very lovely landlords. I feel very lucky indeed.


I would recommend you getting a letter from HR as it might help. But most of all, leaving a good personal impression to the landlord or the person from the agency is probably most important. Good luck with your search!
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