Rent payments when the shop is closed
The Federal Council classifies the situation in Switzerland as "extraordinary" and has therefore ordered that shopping centres, restaurants, bars, cinemas, zoos, sports centres, hairdressers and many other publicly accessible establishments must be closed until further notice.
What does this mean for shop rents? What must or can I do as a landlord or tenant? Is there still a rent payment obligation? Unfortunately, we cannot give a final answer, as such a situation is unprecedented and constantly changing. The legal classification of the pandemic is controversial. We assume that both tenants and landlords have an interest in ensuring that business can continue once the situation returns to normal. When the clientele returns, rent can be paid again. The bankruptcy of a tenant is certainly not in the interest of a landlord. We advise you to come to an agreement in good time and to record a mutually acceptable solution in a written agreement.
We are pleased to give you some explanations on individual questions:
Do I still have to pay rent?
That question is debatable. If the rented property can no longer be used for the contractually agreed purpose at all, a reduction in rent may be appropriate for the period during which the business must remain closed. If it becomes completely impossible to use the property, a reduction of the rent by 100% might even be possible. However, it must be examined in each individual case whether and to what extent it is impossible to use the rented property and/or a so-called unreasonableness exists. The tenant is required to provide evidence of this. If you are affected by the closure, we advise you to contact the landlord immediately in order to negotiate a solution. You will find a template for this in the download area.
Can I terminate the rental contract extraordinarily due to the current situation?
A court decision on this question has not yet been made. Expert opinions say the following: If the continuation of your business appears unreasonable due to the current situation of the coronavirus, this is probably a so-called important reason according to Art. 266g OR. This entitles you to an extraordinary termination of the rental contract in compliance with the statutory period of notice of 6 months to any termination date. The continuation of the business is likely to be unreasonable in particular if the use for the agreed purpose is completely impossible. To give a possible example: the management of a fully furnished restaurant with the obligation to observe certain opening hours. The tenant must be able to prove the unreasonableness.
In order to get out of the rental agreement quickly, you as the tenant have the usual options:
- You can find a solvent new tenant or
- transfer the business to a third party.
The provisions of the Code of Obligations apply to both options. For many business tenants, however, a termination option with a 6-month notice period is unlikely to be of interest, as they have made large investments, for example. In addition, as mentioned above, it is still unclear whether the Corona crisis constitutes an important reason within the meaning of Art. 266g OR. It will also be decisive how long the crisis or the closure of the business will last. Therefore, we recommend that you consider whether an agreement with the landlord regarding rent payments (or at least a reduction thereof) might be more sensible for you before terminating the lease.
I am giving up my apartment or business premises at the end of the month, but I do not wish to participate in the handover due to the risk of infection. What can I do?
If you have concerns about handing over your home or business premises in person, we advise you to inform the landlord of your concerns. Ask the landlord to allow you to return the keys by registered mail. The landlord can then take possession of the rented property alone. In order to avoid later discussions about tenant damage, we advise you to document the condition of the apartment well beforehand - possibly with photos.
Does a possible rent reduction also apply to my private apartment?
Private living is not affected by the emergency ordinance. The rent is still owed and there are no extraordinary termination options.