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Termination of a rental agreement by the landlord

You have received notice of termination of your rental agreement. What are your options?

The answer in detail

Termination of a rental agreement by the landlord

Is every termination legal?

No. A distinction is made between void and contestable terminations. Void means that the termination holds no legal validity and does not need to be contested. Contestable means that if you do nothing, the termination has legal effect. You can find examples in our leaflet.

Can I defend myself against a termination?

Any notice of termination can be contested within 30 days of receipt. The arbitration authority in the place where the rented property is located is responsible. If it turns out that the notice of termination is valid, the tenancy can be extended under certain circumstances. 
You can find more information and answers as well as a sample letter for contesting the termination in our leaflet.

When is a termination void?

A termination is void in the following cases (not exhaustive):

  • Noncompliance with the notice period (careful, the termination applies from the next notice date!)
  • Extraordinary termination if the conditions aren’t met
  • The termination was not issued in writing with the official form
  • The termination was not issued to or received by all parties
  • It was not separately issued to the spouse or registered partner
  • Termination with the condition that depends on the landlord (e.g. “...if I have not found another apartment by then”)

When is a termination contestable?

A termination is contestable in the following cases (not exhaustive):

  • Termination is issued because the tenant asserts a right that they are entitled to according to the rental relationship (e.g. because the tenant claims defects)
  • The landlord attempts to unilaterally amend the rental agreement to the detriment of the tenant (e.g. an increase in rent)
  • The landlord intends to force the tenant to purchase the rental property
  • During mediation or court proceedings in connection with the rental relationship
  • Within three years after mediation or court proceedings in connection with the rental relationship in which the landlord
    • lost to a large extent
    • largely or completely withdrew their claim or lawsuit
    • agreed to a settlement with the tenant or otherwise reached an out-of-court agreement.
  • Changes in the family situation of the tenant from which no substantial disadvantages occur for the landlord (e.g. grandmother moves in)

In exceptional cases, a termination can be issued during court proceedings in connection with the rental relationship if

  • the proceedings were wrongfully initiated by the tenant
  • the landlord claims urgent personal need
  • the tenant is in arrears with rent payments
  • the tenant has committed a serious breach of contract (e.g. serious damage to the rental property)
  • the landlord has important reasons to sell the property
  • the tenant goes bankrupt and cannot furnish security

What else can I do?

In the event that the termination is considered to be legal, you can request a so-called rent extension from a court or a mediation authority. This means that in cases where a termination of the rental agreement would result in particular hardship for the tenant, the rental relationship can be prolonged. But this only applies if the interests of the landlord on the original termination date are not given higher priority.

What is taken into account for a rent extension?

To weigh the interests of both parties, consideration is given to the following points, in particular:

  • The circumstances under which the rental agreement was concluded and the content of the agreement (if, for example, the landlord informs you at the beginning of the contract that you can live in the property for a long time but your rental agreement is terminated after one year)
  • The duration of the rental agreement (those who have lived in one place for longer are usually more rooted and a termination would hit them harder)
  • Personal, family, and financial circumstances of the tenant (a family with children will have more difficulty finding a new apartment in the same neighborhood)
  • Personal need of the landlord
  • The situation on the local market for comparable rental properties

How long can the rental agreement be extended for?

The rental agreement can be extended two times, but the tenant must prove that they have made every effort to avoid hardship (e.g. proven search efforts). 
Overall, rental agreements for residential property can be extended by a maximum of four years and for commercial property by a maximum of six years.

Do the normal notice periods apply during the term of the extension?

If nothing is stipulated to the contrary in the extension ruling, then a period of notice of one month given at the end of any month applies for extensions of up to one year. For extensions over one year, a period of three months’ notice given on the legal dates (these vary by canton!).

Can a sublease also be extended?

Since subletters do not have an agreement with the landlord, their rental agreement can only be extended as long as the primary rental agreement is in place.

Can the rental agreement include provisions that these rules or parts thereof do not apply?

No. These legal rules are binding and apply even if they have been amended in the rental agreement or excluded and you have signed the amended contract.

What should I do if my contract has been terminated?

Contesting a termination and the appeal for an extension must be submitted to the responsible mediation authority within 30 days after receipt of the termination. If the rental agreement concerned is a fixed-term agreement, the application for an extension must be submitted 60 days before the end of the rental agreement.

When does the 30-day period start?

The period starts on the day the termination was received.
If the mail carrier cannot deliver the registered letter to either the tenant or a third party authorized to receive the mail on the tenant’s behalf, and they leave a collection notice in the mailbox or P.O. Box, then the termination is deemed to have been received as soon as the tenant can be made aware of the letter according to the collection notice at the post office. As a rule, this is the case the day after the collection notice was left in the mailbox. Only if there are special circumstances (e.g. illness, unforeseen absence of the tenant) will the termination be deemed to have been delivered on the day of actual receipt, or on the last day of the seven-day collection period of the registered letter at the latest.

Important documents
Leaflet Notice to quit a flat by the landlord