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Old 25.03.2021, 19:59
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Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

Hello,
I'm looking at a commercial property to set up a small business. It's currently used as a restaurant.


Is anyone here familiar with the laws regarding zoning - commercial -restaurants and general commercial use vs. residential (why would a landlord not want to convert it back to residential?)


Your ideas/advice/wisdom would be appreciated.
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Old 26.03.2021, 08:33
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

hopefully with the COVID situation, there will be incentives from the government to help convert from commercial to residential as there are oversupply of commercial in lots of areas

Last edited by neutralname; 26.03.2021 at 10:59.
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Old 26.03.2021, 09:00
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

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why would a landlord not want to convert it back to residential?
Because they would get far lower rent.

Tom
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Old 26.03.2021, 09:19
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

Why convert it to residential use if it will be used for a business?

I suppose it depends on the type of business you want to set up.

The building owner may need to apply for the zoning change. If the property is currently located in a building with some residential component, it might be less complicated to convert a portion to residential.
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Old 26.03.2021, 11:09
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

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Hello,
I'm looking at a commercial property to set up a small business. It's currently used as a restaurant.
Is anyone here familiar with the laws regarding zoning - commercial -restaurants and general commercial use vs. residential (why would a landlord not want to convert it back to residential?)
Your ideas/advice/wisdom would be appreciated.
I don't completely understand your question:
- you found a property you would like to rent
- it is currently used as restaurant
- you would like to use it as a place for a small business
What does a possible residential use have to do with it? Is this part of your small business?

Otherwise: every municipality has it's own "Zonenplan"* and accompanying "Bau- und Zonenreglement" where it is written was is allowed. And possible exceptions. You can find them on the web, but every municipality have a person or an office responsible to reply on answers like that.
For example, Luzern have 17 different zonings, of which, if you look at 3:
Wohnzone (WO)
Arbeitszone (AR)
Wohn-und Arbeitszone (WA)
WO can also have business WA is mixed anyway but for AR you have different kind exceptions.

If you have an exact property in your mind it is really easy, just ask them. If you are fishing for a possible location in a wider area, it is harder, because you need to analyse possibilities in an area and find all the exceptions. But there is no "general rule" over the whole Switzerland that would give an answer "what are all the possibilities for an undefined property?"

*sorry for the use of terms in German, but I don't see point of translating those into English, as such documents are anyway in the language of municipality.
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Old 26.03.2021, 17:07
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

Thanks to everyone who answered for your info and advice. I often make things more complex than they need to be.



It's a restaurant. We know the building/location. The landlord is either going to rent it commercially again, or convert it to a residential apartment.



Either way we want to rent it as it comes with parking and a garden terrace. I have a business plan. But it's not as a restaurant. It was indicated that there may be some specific laws about restaurant vs other commercial use.


I'm also wanting to 'pitch' my plan the right way to the landlord - hence the question about what advantage he would have to changing it to residential.


In this case, he's not expecting a big difference in rent between commercial and residential rent... it's almost 'too good to be true' so I want to make sure there's not some other factor I'm missing.


The landlord would need to make a significant investment to clear and renovate it as a private apartment so I think I have a good negotiating position if I offer to take it 'as is' and use it commercially, than for him to take the time and hassle to renovate... but on the other hand I think he's now lost a huge amount of rental income as the restaurant have not been paying their bills (we know this) - so right now he probably thinks it's safer to just turn it into a residential apartment...


I suspect he also needs to do some renovations generally (eg outside of the building needs a good clean and paint job, roof may need repairs) which means it's probably more straightforward if it's all residential, as no one's 'business' is interrupted...
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Old 20.04.2021, 18:44
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

Does anyone have insight ?



I want to open a small business, can I just set it up in my (residential) apartment or do I need permission ?
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Old 20.04.2021, 18:51
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

It will depend on whether that specific segment of business has rules, e.g. health regulations.

For example, if you would like to start up a child-minding service or creche, there are likely to be regulations about the number of square metres playing area and the number of toilets available per child, and the fire escape route. Similarly, if you house patients with dementia, you may need to prove that you have a suitable lift, shower chairs, and sensible fences. And so on. Also, there may be rules for distances or shields with regard to corona, even it it is just an office.

You would need to find out whether such rules exist, for your idea, and if so, whether they'd be different were you to conduct that business in a private home or in business premises.

You'd need to know those, for your business idea, about your home, where you live now. The more so if you rent, as you might need permission from your landlord. Check your contract.

You'd also need to know about any modifications necessary before approaching the landlord of the restaurant, as he might then be bound to fit certain features into the property, himself, (and would want to have a good argument from you about why he should take the trouble and spend the money) or give you permission for you do make such changes to his building (for which, depending what it is, may need planning permission, and certainly know your budget) such as, for example, building wheelchair ramps or extra toilets, or adding ventilation, etc.
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Old 20.04.2021, 20:01
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

Lots of people have businesses they run from their home but I suspect they are more of the footcare, massage, beauty, or creative type of thing rather than a brothel or a ten-pin bowling alley.

Anyway, my point is -yes, you can run a business from your own home.

The sticking point would be what type of business.
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Old 20.04.2021, 20:46
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

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..The landlord is either going to rent it commercially again, or convert it to a residential apartment.

... it's almost 'too good to be true' so I want to make sure there's not some other factor I'm missing......

1. to change a premise into a restaurant is expensive, the other way is normaly much cheaper, because restaurants need to cater few special needs, like ventilation, powerful gas/electrical installations, cooling rooms, easy-to clean details, separated paths (clean, dirty, etc), fire regulations etc...

if a restaurant is very old, maybe a huge investment is needed to renovate it to present standards, hence the owner is not going into such investment if he doesn't have someone to rent

2. as far as I understand, the way how Swiss calculate the rent, older buildings that were not renovated, have lower and lower rent as they age.


btw. what is this mysterious business plan of your
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Old 20.04.2021, 23:38
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

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Does anyone have insight ?



I want to open a small business, can I just set it up in my (residential) apartment or do I need permission ?
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Lots of people have businesses they run from their home but I suspect they are more of the footcare, massage, beauty, or creative type of thing rather than a brothel or a ten-pin bowling alley.

Anyway, my point is -yes, you can run a business from your own home.

The sticking point would be what type of business.
Check your lease, in both apartments I've rented in Geneva running a business (any kind of business) was specifically mentioned as not allowed.
In the second building a neighbour did occasional work from home as an accountant and this was 'overlooked' by the letting agents, a second neighbour started a cleaning company and his lease was swiftly terminated as it was decided that the risk of continuous comings and goings by potential clients and employees would disturb the peace of the other residents.
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Old 21.04.2021, 00:40
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

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I want to open a small business, can I just set it up in my (residential) apartment
Yes.

The problem with setting it up as a sole or joint propiertorship is, you and your partners (if any) become liable with your entire personal wealth. But nothing speaks against starting as you are while setting up things, getting suppliers chained up, and whatnot. With the intent to transfer everything to the GmBH you're going to found later on, and then doing so. You definitely want to talk to a Treuhänder about this kind of stuff, how to set this up properly, how to name the sole propietorship, whether and from when on you need business and VAT registrations, etc. Or buy a book or three and save the fees that may well be usurious for the basic stuff, but you'll want to consult a Treuhänder even then, just to make sure.

Avoid signing longer-term rental or lease contracts before you've founded the company and use it as contract party, as the owner may object transferring the contract to the company and its reduced liability later on.

Another thing to consider is zoning law. If the Gemeinde deems the apartment residential, you may be asking for trouble when using it commercially. Probably no problem for most uses if it's the former restaurant, but that will depend on your business, a brothel for instance will definitely be a "No way!" (just saying).
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Old 21.04.2021, 08:53
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

Thank you. The great news is that the building is zoned 'at least 50% residential' and I have confirmed with the Geimende that there is no objection for us to use it either way - commercial or residential. It seems that the responsibility rests with the landlord to ensure that 'no more than 50%' is used for commercial space.... but no additional permission requred for commercial business which fits with the noise limits.



Yes, I have already asked the landlord whether he prefers to rent it to me personally or to a verein or GmbH and he does not care...I get the impression he is a big 'naive' about this, but he also trusts us as we have been tenants for him for 12 years and caused zero problems.



The restaurant was 'too much hassle' and as it was a very old business I think the rent was very very low. It needs a full refurbishment inside including all the downstairs areas... and it's certainly not going to be re-done as a restaurant. I think a motivator is also breaking up the parking and cellar as they all have a rental value for private/residential use.



Urs Max - thank you for your advice. It's very reassuring - I've spoken with my 'Treuhand' yesterday who was very positive about beginning the planning as a 'hobby' then Einzelfirma, then converting to GmbH when the time comes.
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Old 21.04.2021, 10:26
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

As you speak German you can find a lot of information from the website gruenden.ch. They also have some information in English but more in German.
https://www.gruenden.ch/
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Old 21.04.2021, 13:11
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

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Lots of people have businesses they run from their home but I suspect they are more of the footcare, massage, beauty, or creative type of thing rather than a brothel or a ten-pin bowling alley.

Anyway, my point is -yes, you can run a business from your own home.

The sticking point would be what type of business.
I think in some cases this type of rights get grandfathered. For example in the past many brothels did operate from people's appartments, often without a proper license, and neighbours have been unable to get them closed (see for example Valentin Landmann). But the law makes it nearly impossible to start something like that from scratch, which is why the ones that do survive often get snapped up by competitors and continue to operate, if ever the owners do decide to close them.

The same is true of many other types of business. I think important criteria here are nuisance caused to neighbours, including such things as parking cars, noise, H&S risks, and also fear of erosion of rents (businesses can easily outbid residential tenants, which may lead to fears that businesses will spread into and then take over residential neighbourhoods by stealth). This may also be connected to the scale of the operation. So maybe a hairdresser running a part time business from her back room is going to be different to a full scale hairdressing salon with five members of staff and open from early to late.

This is why zoning plans were set up and are strictly adhered to. And most zoning plans to allow for a certain percentage of other use, but this is strictly capped.
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Old 21.04.2021, 15:03
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Re: Commercial - Restaurant - Residential - conversion ?

You have not said what the business is, for whatever reason, which is to be respected, but it is possible that some members have experience in this area and can offer you (free) advice.

I think you need to clarify with the landlord whether he will clear the premises or are you going to take it on "as is".
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