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The search for accommodation in Switzerland is a hot topic for Ukrainians and all other renters, including local residents. The rental market in Switzerland is quite regulated, competitive, expensive, and geared towards property owners rather than tenants. This process can bring many unexpected and unclear aspects for Ukrainians accustomed to very different conditions. So, let's start with the features of renting property that you should know about.
What You Need to Know to Rent Accommodation in Switzerland
There's always a long queue for any reasonably decent housing in this country. The demand significantly surpasses the supply. To start your search, every tenant must create a dossier that collects all the documents to convince the landlord that you're a worthy candidate. The list may vary depending on the specific region, accommodation type, and the owner's personal preferences. However, there's also a general list of documents that applies to almost all renters:
- Passport or other identification document.
- Evidence of financial stability, such as bank statements, tax declarations, or a confirmation letter from your workplace.
- Recommendations from previous landlords or others who can vouch for your reliability as a tenant or law-abiding person.
- Depending on the circumstances, you might be asked to provide rental insurance.
- Additional documents confirming your status in the country are required for immigrants and refugees.
- The property owner might also request other documents, so be prepared for that. Additionally, apartment owners often require financial guarantees. They may ask for a deposit to ensure rent payments or to cover potential damages.
It's worth noting that landlords of desirable properties receive numerous rental requests, so they can be quite selective. Be prepared to submit your documents many times. Of course, you might find accommodation within the first week, but it could also take several months. The challenge will be easier to overcome if you're mentally prepared for this.
In the accommodation search, just as in job hunting, recommendations play a positive role. I'll again emphasize the importance of networking and building personal connections. You need a circle of acquaintances who can provide recommendations for various situations.
Swiss people scrutinize each candidate carefully and prefer those who will cause the least trouble. Generally, the priority is as follows: Swiss citizens, followed by citizens of developed European countries like Germany, Austria, and France. And in third place, citizens of so-called third countries, including ours.
Where to Search for Accommodation
Personally verified resources by Anna include flatfox.ch and homegate.ch These are the most well-known websites for finding accommodation in Switzerland. It's also worth considering the website immoclick.ch By the way, they also list housing options for socially vulnerable individuals. Special conditions are required to qualify, such as low income and no real estate ownership.
Another tip is to explore housing offers in Facebook groups and Telegram. Private individuals often seek the next tenant there, and you can establish direct contact. So, join your regional groups and monitor them regularly. Unfortunately, our people often don't know about the support groups existing on social media in their region. It's quite unfortunate since these groups provide a lot of valuable information.
Another piece of advice regarding renting accommodation is to contact local municipalities. Every commune, town, and even small village has its own municipality. These institutions gather information about available housing and landlords and can provide quick guidance. This works particularly well in small towns and villages. In any case, it's recommended to first visit the municipal office, introduce yourself, explain that you're looking for housing, and see how they react. They often provide assistance to many people.
Renting Specifics for Ukrainians with C Permit Status
The C permit status of Ukrainians somewhat restricts the search, even if you already have a job and income. Swiss landlords often find dealing with Ukrainian tenants holding this status somewhat unclear in their relationship, so they might prefer to decline rather than deal with hypothetical issues later. Occasionally, social workers might assist in the housing search. It doesn't happen everywhere, but it's worth inquiring with the local social services.
Of course, there are benefits: the state covers a significant portion of the rent for individuals with C permit status, and in some cases, it might even cover the entire amount. Each canton has its own provisions. Therefore, before starting your search, determine what you can expect and base your accommodation search on that amount.
However, an important detail here is that if you plan on receiving state assistance for housing, you must search for accommodation only in the area where you're registered in your canton and within that specific postal code. This significantly limits options since the selection of available housing is quite limited in some areas. People who rely on social housing benefits cannot change their registered address and postal code.
If you're not relying on state assistance, you can search for housing anywhere, even in other cantons. For many Swiss, commuting to work for an hour or so is a common practice. But of course, much depends on the work conditions. For instance, if your workday starts at 7 a.m. and you have a long commute, it could complicate matters.
On a positive note, the safety net for Ukrainians with C permit status is designed so that you won't be left without a roof over your head. They will provide accommodation, though it might be communal housing or other social housing. But you won't have to sleep on the streets for sure.
If you find yourself in a situation where you might be without housing in the next few days, go to a social worker at the local AOAS (Office for Migration and Integration) and inform them of your housing problem. They'll quickly find a solution. It's a good option for temporary shelter while you can continue your search.
Moreover, certain real estate companies are willing to rent to Ukrainians. In the German-speaking part, a company called "Swiss Prime Solutions" does this in Zurich. Similar companies accommodating Ukrainians can also be found in other cantons.
It's better to search for accommodation directly from the owner. Since personal contacts work in Switzerland, when communicating with the landlord, you'll have the opportunity to make a good impression, establish a connection, assure reliability, and discuss specific matters. This doesn't work as well with agencies.
Another important advice for Ukrainians living here: start searching for new accommodation a few months before your current lease expires if you want to find something that more or less fits your requirements. I currently encounter situations where our compatriots begin their search too late and subsequently face problems.
It's crucial to be attentive when signing the contract. I recommend documenting, photographing, and even filming everything present in the apartment or house you're moving into. Otherwise, there's a risk that after the lease term ends, the landlord might try to charge you for damages you didn't cause. And if you don't have evidence that these issues were present at the start of the lease, it will be very difficult for you to prove anything. Therefore, document everything in the presence of the owner or the agent who helped you find the accommodation, or send them all the media you've captured. Keep these materials until the end of the lease.
It's worth adding that property insurance exists in Switzerland. It's not very expensive, costing around 100 Swiss francs per year. Usually, this insurance covers major damages, like flooding neighbors' apartments or fires. A more comprehensive policy covers even smaller damages. While property insurance is not mandatory at the state level, as I've mentioned before, landlords might require it during your application. Still, if that doesn't happen, consider this possibility independently.
In any case, remember that there are no hopeless situations. We, Ukrainians, are very persistent, so we should see things through to the end, and then we will succeed. The main thing is not to lose heart and take action. And you definitely won't be left without housing.