Zurich residents concerned about being ‘pushed out’ of city

A recent survey of 10,000 people shows that the housing shortage remains a huge concern for the Zurich population.

Zurich residents concerned about being ‘pushed out’ of city
The Church of St Peter in Lindenhof, Zurich, Schweiz

According to the survey by the Tsü portal, 60 percent of participants assume they will not be able to find another apartment in Zurich the next time they move, while three quarters expect that they will eventually end up having to move to a nearby suburb or a smaller city such as Baden, Winterthur or Schaffhausen.

READ MORE: Five commuter villages near Zurich where it’s easier to find an apartment

And 92 percent of respondents are concerned about rising rents; half said their rents are too high – on average, they pay about 650 francs too much per month.

There have been frequent reports of Zurich residents – young and elderly – being forced out of their apartments for a number of reasons, including higher rents and making room for refugees and migrants. While some choose to turn their backs on the city, many residents feel their hands are tied.

Their reason for staying? For one, the sheer lack of (affordable) housing available in Zurich. Moreover, Zurich households that have not changed residence for a long time pay less rent than those who move around.

READ MORE: Renting in Zurich: Why sticking to one apartment will save you money

In Zurich, everyone is affected by the rapidly increasing rents, including families, students, single parents, poor, middle-class singles, pensioners, migrants and even businesses.

Earlier this year, the Limmattaler Zeitung reported that musical merchandise retailer Musik Hug has decided to terminate its rental agreement which ends in 2025. The retailer had rented the premises at Limmatquai 28 for an astounding 150 years.

According to the survey participants, responsibility for the housing crisis lies with politicians, who have not undertaken any effective measures to remedy the situation.

Investors such as banks and pension funds, which own many residential buildings, are also to blame, respondents said, as they continue to raise rents in order to achieve higher returns.

READ ALSO: Zurich hit by affordable housing shortage amid record-high immigration

As for the solution to the housing shortage? The survey’s 10,000 respondents agreed on a number of solutions, such as capping rents, providing more cooperative and city apartments, controlling returns, banning Airbnb, and expropriating Credit Suisse properties.

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Can I make changes to my rented apartment in Switzerland?

If you moved into a new flat in Switzerland and didn't like the décor, do you have the right to remodel the place?

Can I make changes to my rented apartment in Switzerland?

Finding affordable dwellings in Switzerland is a challenge, especially in large cities.

So if you find one in a good area and at a reasonable price, you may want to rent it, regardless of whether everything inside is to your taste.

You may think, ‘once I am in, I can change whatever I don’t like.’

But can you?

The answer depends on what kind of changes you would like to make.

As a rule, modifications to a rented property are only permitted with the landlord’s written consent.

However, much depends on what is meant by ‘modifications’.

If, for instance, you want to repaint the walls a different colour, then you can do so without a landlord’s permission, as long as the walls are restored to their original hue when your tenancy ends.

The same applies to holes in the walls to hang pictures, or any other purely ‘cosmetic’ changes that don’t involve structural alterations (such as, for example, knocking down walls to make rooms bigger).

In other words, as long as your modifications are not permanent — that is, you will be able to return the flat to its original state before you move out — then it is in principle okay.

When must you seek permission from landlord or management company for changes you are planning to make?

You absolutely need written consent if you would like to undertake substantial remodelling work that involves tearing down anything that is a permanent fixture of the home, such as bathrooms, kitchen, or flooring, for instance.

Remember that you are legally responsible to revert the flat to its original state when your rental contract ends, and that will likely not be possible if you make extensive structural modifications.

In this case, the landlord can demand that you remove all your alterations and pay for it out of your own pocket .

What if your changes improve the overall condition of the apartment?

If you have an idea for improvements to the kitchen, bathroom, floors, or other fixtures, bring it to your landlord’s attention, explaining how these upgrades will make the flat better for the landlord and future tenants alike.

If they agree, you can negotiate a deal where you make all the work yourself against a rent reduction.

If you are skilled in this type of work and can prove your experience, then you may strike a deal.

However, if the landlord is not in agreement with this plan, then you should not modify anything in the flat that can’t be easily changed back later.