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Old 22.08.2021, 23:09
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Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

Hi,

I very recently moved to Switzerland and I found accommodation that I like before arriving here. It's a private room rented in an apartment. I like everything about the apartment and also I have very good impressions of the housemates, i.e. I didn't find it awkward to start a conversation with them and they are generally nice and warm.

My only problem with the apartment is related to the mailing address. I was told that I have two options:

1. Not having the domicile address associated with the apartment and have all my mails routed to the office where I work.
2. Having the domicile address with an extra cost per month and I have to sign a letter addressed to the building owner that says that I live there for free. Fyi, I don't have any problem with the extra cost, but I feel uncomfortable with signing the letter since there will be a record of me stating something untrue, esp since this is related to the tax for subletting.

I was wondering if this is a common practice in Switzerland? I'm especially curious if there's anyone here who is staying here temporarily and work at an international organization. I learned that I also have to report any change of address so option 2 seems to be the safest, but then again I'm worried about signing the letter above.

Thanks!
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Old 23.08.2021, 10:46
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

I think #2 could be related to the fact that your housemates don't want the income from you to be reported, e.g. because their contract forbids subrenting. And the extracost could be the fee for the increased risk of you officially using that address. Basically you could be part of the black market.

I would definitely avoid writing anything that I don't trust being 100% true. I would also move away from that situation and get an official and contractualized address as soon as possible. But this also depends on how temporary you actually are. Did you have to register as resident, or will you be gone in a couple of months?
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Old 23.08.2021, 10:53
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

I'd walk away. As venetian said they're either trying to hide the fact they're subletting when the contract doesn't allow them to or they're charging you more than they're allowed to for the room.
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Old 23.08.2021, 10:56
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

Something's not right. As Venetian mentioned, subletting is not allowed by some contracts. So, your nice and warm housemates might be getting the money around the contract.

How long will you stay in Switzerland? If you need a long-term permit, the place where you live but where you cannot receive mail may be useless for registration purposes. But....international organizations have special rules. So, ask your employer.
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Old 23.08.2021, 11:13
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

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. But....international organizations have special rules. So, ask your employer.
Some Government organisations, like the UN and WIPO have special rules.
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Old 23.08.2021, 11:38
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

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Some Government organisations, like the UN and WIPO have special rules.
AFAIK people use international organization as a proxy for UN and related organizations. Don't know why, but that's how people communicate.

We wouldn't be discussing this if OP have specified if carte de legitimization or B permit
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Old 23.08.2021, 12:47
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

Why would you lie for someone who has a monetary interest in you? And without gain? Don't, ever.

If that means there's no contract than that's it. Or walk away even if, shady people will always have a shady stance.

If the room is furnished the legal notice period is 14 days (with the contract ending at a month's end) unless the contract states otherwise. So if you need a place to sleep that might give you the flexibility to look elsewhere and leave soon.
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Old 23.08.2021, 12:56
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

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2. Having the domicile address with an extra cost per month and I have to sign a letter addressed to the building owner that says that I live there for free. Fyi, I don't have any problem with the extra cost, but I feel uncomfortable with signing the letter since there will be a record of me stating something untrue, esp since this is related to the tax for subletting.
Make sure the housemates also sign the letter and you can legally live there for free!
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Old 23.08.2021, 12:58
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

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AFAIK people use international organization as a proxy for UN and related organizations. Don't know why, but that's how people communicate.

We wouldn't be discussing this if OP have specified if carte de legitimization or B permit
@Axa - sorry I forgot to mention, I received/applied for a carte de légitimation from my workplace. I'm actually employed by institutes in USA and I came to Switzerland to work on-site in Geneva so I'm not employed by Swiss institutions/organizations. I'm not working for UN btw , but I assume the situation is similar.

The renter had people from my organization renting a place at her apartment before and I think she has done this for at least 4 years if I look at her accommodation posting, but they went through route #1 above. I will sign a contract, so I will have a written document that I live there. I still don't know how the local address is handled though.

I personally started to feel uncomfortable with route #2 and want to avoid that at any cost. But if route #1 is legal due to my situation, then I would maybe figured out a way on how to set up a separate mailing address. Maybe even open a PO BOX at the local post office.
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Old 23.08.2021, 13:09
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

Thanks everyone for the replies! As additional context, I'm living in Geneva and I will be staying here for ~1 year. I applied/will receive a carte de légitimation from my workplace.

In my situation, I find it harder to secure a place to live in the next 29 days, two of the other places I was interested in were already taken by other renters, and so this accommodation seems convenient for me. Since I'm new to Swiss and its laws, I wasn't sure how important it is for me to have a domicile address in this case, seems like other people who worked in the same organization I was working in found a way to go with route #1.

I'm just uncomfortable of writing something that states something untrue, with option #1 at least I'm not doing something which could trail back to me. The risk is mostly on the person who rented the room as long as it's okay for me to use the physical address to report my residency with local official. Or maybe I'm thinking this wrong and shouldn't risk this at all?
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Old 23.08.2021, 13:17
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

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@Axa - sorry I forgot to mention, I received/applied for a carte de légitimation from my workplace. I'm actually employed by institutes in USA and I came to Switzerland to work on-site in Geneva so I'm not employed by Swiss institutions/organizations. I'm not working for UN btw , but I assume the situation is similar.

The renter had people from my organization renting a place at her apartment before and I think she has done this for at least 4 years if I look at her accommodation posting, but they went through route #1 above. I will sign a contract, so I will have a written document that I live there. I still don't know how the local address is handled though.

I personally started to feel uncomfortable with route #2 and want to avoid that at any cost. But if route #1 is legal due to my situation, then I would maybe figured out a way on how to set up a separate mailing address. Maybe even open a PO BOX at the local post office.
Don't give too much details

Well, carte de légitimation is different to B permit. For the B permit you need a rental contract to show you have a legal place to live. Or as flatmate a letter signed by flatmates and landlord. Then, you get the B permit. No idea if the procedure is similar for carte de légitimation. Do you need to prove you have a legal place to live first?

I have no experience on the proposed arrangement beyond telling it's a unusual. No idea if there's some problems down the road, or all the liability is carried by the landlord.
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Old 23.08.2021, 13:38
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

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Don't give too much details

Well, carte de légitimation is different to B permit. For the B permit you need a rental contract to show you have a legal place to live. Or as flatmate a letter signed by flatmates and landlord. Then, you get the B permit. No idea if the procedure is similar for carte de légitimation. Do you need to prove you have a legal place to live first?

I have no experience on the proposed arrangement beyond telling it's a unusual. No idea if there's some problems down the road, or all the liability is carried by the landlord.
Thanks for the reply! I'm not sure if I have to prove that I have a legal place to live. The procedure that I read through this morning is that I just have to inform the office where I work of any change of address and to make sure that I reside in Switzerland (also not restricted only to Geneva). I didn't plan to get a driver's license so my only worries are about opening a bank account and making sure that everything is in compliance with the local authorities.
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Old 23.08.2021, 14:52
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

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...make sure that I reside in Switzerland...
...my only worries are about opening a bank account...
I would say that for the first part you need not only "an address", but also a rental contract, or something signed by your host. Having the residency somewhere is much more formal than just being somewhere and having the mail forwarded. Do you really need to reside, or just to be in Switzerland?

Online I found this:
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Les personnes qui sont titulaires d’une carte de légitimation du DFAE sont exemptées de l’obligation de s’annoncer aux autorités cantonales compétentes pour le contrôle de l’habitant (exception faite des Chefs de postes honoraires). Elles peuvent toutefois s’annoncer sur une base volontaire.
https://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/dfae...tion-dfae.html
meaning that you don't have to register and nobody will track your actual address (but then how would you prove your residency?).
Still, I don't know about the bank account.

I strongly recommend you clarify these points with your employer or with senior colleagues, since yours looks like an uncommon situation. One year is not that short of a period, so it's good that you are trying to do everything by the book
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Old 23.08.2021, 15:07
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

Echoing others, this sounds really sketchy and I'd walk away from it. You are being asked to lie: either they don't have permission to sublet, or they are charging you more than what they pay for your room and pocketing the difference.

Do you really want to live with such people?
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Old 23.08.2021, 15:17
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

Sending letters c/o the landlord would solve the problem as no need for name on the letterbox
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Old 23.08.2021, 18:16
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

I could only find this in german but it explains your options;

https://www.mieterverband.ch/mv/miet...am-wohnen.html

I agree you should only sign something that reflects the real situation. Non-paying guests are allowed but have no protection.

Under swiss law sub-letting a room is in principle allowed - the owner has a right to be informed but a very limited ability to refuse an additional tenant -whatever the rental contract says.
Your name on the letter box for mail should not be a problem
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Old 24.08.2021, 11:10
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

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Your name on the letter box for mail should not be a problem
If there is a big turnover of people renting rooms in an apartment, changing the name each time on the letterbox can be expensive for the main tenant. What about having your mail collected at the post office?
I certainly wouldn´t sign anything that is untrue.

Geneva is a tough housing market so if you have a place that you like it is not a bad idea to stay there, especially if you are just staying for a limited time period.
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Old 24.08.2021, 11:26
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

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changing the name each time on the letterbox can be expensive for the main tenant.
It is quite common for the landlord to charge the new tenant for that (german-speaking part, don't ask me if it is legal, I am just reporting what often happens). Why should the main tenant do differently? Either he/she asks the money, or it is taken into account in the room-costs (similarly to depreciation of furnitures and similar costs)
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Old 24.08.2021, 12:50
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

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If there is a big turnover of people renting rooms in an apartment, changing the name each time on the letterbox can be expensive for the main tenant. What about having your mail collected at the post office?
I certainly wouldn´t sign anything that is untrue.

Geneva is a tough housing market so if you have a place that you like it is not a bad idea to stay there, especially if you are just staying for a limited time period.
30 CHF for the mailbox aluminum plates here in Aargau. 0.05 CHF for masking tape + pen. I once was the main tenant in Neuchâtel in a flat and the landlord accepted the mailbox being full of masking tape labels, no prob.

I think the main tenant might be found some business potential while hosting people with carte de légitimation. As mentioned above, if subtenants payment are charged more than the total rent of the house, of course they don't want written evidence of this.

Or considering the proximity to France, they might be other people already registered as living there (because work in Geneva) but actually living in France in a larger and cheaper house. It might be called tax optimization.

The issue is that main tenant has a motivation to avoid recognizing OP as a paying subtenant living there and receiving mail.
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Old 24.08.2021, 13:55
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Re: Help! Domicile mailing address when renting a room in Switzerland

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I once was the main tenant in Neuchâtel in a flat and the landlord accepted the mailbox being full of masking tape labels, no prob.
No building I ever lived in would allow that.
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