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Choosing the right tenant is essential. A wrong choice cannot be corrected and can have serious and costly consequences. If you rent your property to a solvent and suitable tenant, you will considerably reduce the risk of disputes. Legal proceedings are time-consuming and costly for landlords and often do not lead to the desired result.

What is a suitable tenant

A suitable tenant is a tenant who fits in with the property and the environment. A family should not rent a small studio. If the landlord does not allow pets, a tenant with a dog is not suitable. A noisy and disrespectful person is not a tenant you would like to have. You are not allowed to rent a flat to a person without a valid residence permit. A person with an income above the state's entrance fee cannot rent a subsidised flat. A seasonal worker may not rent a flat for an initial period of 3 years.

What is a solvent tenant (definition)

A solvent tenant is a tenant who has enough income to be able to pay the rent and utilities without difficulty. In principle, when renting a property, the rent should not exceed one third of the gross income, but ideally it should not exceed 25%. A solvent tenant does not have any justified legal proceedings pending and is not on the verge of bankruptcy. A company has sufficient liquidity to pay the rent.

How to do it
Renting and advertising

It is a good idea to note certain non-negotiable conditions of the lease in the description of the property and in the real estate portals, e.g. whether a dog is not allowed, what the minimum duration of the lease is, the date of entry, the maximum income allowed for a subsidised flat, whether the lease must be authorised by an authority such as the Fondation des Terrains Industriels de Genève for the rental of premises in the industrial zone, etc.


An on-site visit is essential before signing the lease, despite the technical possibilities of making virtual visits. It is only on site that the interested party can perceive the offer with his senses. Touching, smelling and hearing cannot be replaced by a virtual tour. It is a good idea to accompany interested parties on a tour of the property. During the visit, the property manager can answer questions and clarify certain points. It is very important to listen to what potential tenants say. The lease negotiations often start already on the spot. The future tenant can already imagine how he/she could arrange his/her flat or premises.

Application form

The interested candidate fills in the application form, also called the registration form, signs it and attaches the requested documents which are listed on this form. If you want to know how to make up an application, we suggest you see our articles on the application form with videos for housing and commercial premises.

Checking the application

The property manager first checks the application and asks the interested person or company to complete the application and any missing information. Then a detailed check is carried out. He checks whether the applicant meets the income and solvency criteria.

Checking a file for renting a dwelling

In applications for rented accommodation, the employer's salary statement, proof of residence and references are often missing. Applicants often do not understand why we ask for exactly these documents.The last three salary slips cannot replace a salary certificate, because only the signed employer's certificate confirms that it is a temporary or permanent job and that the employment contract is still ongoing. Moreover, the salary certificate is signed by the employer, salary slips are more easily falsified. We have sometimes received salary slips from employees who have just lost their jobs.

You also have to be careful with the certificate of non-prosecution. If a candidate has just moved to the canton of Geneva, it is normal that he or she does not yet have legal proceedings in Geneva and in this case, a certificate of non-prosecution is not sufficient proof of solvency. The debt collection registers are managed at cantonal level and not at federal level. It is quite possible that someone has previously lived in another canton in which he or she has had to pay thousands of francs in debt. This is why we also ask for a certificate of establishment or residence and if someone has just arrived in the canton of Geneva, we ask for the certificate of non-prosecution from their previous residence.

Verification of a file for the rental of commercial premises

The screening of a commercial tenant is more complex. If the company is already in existence, we analyse the balance sheets and profit and loss accounts for the last three years. To be able to pay the rent, the company needs sufficient liquidity. It is not a good idea to rent premises to a company that is over-indebted. Sometimes we ask for an administrator to act jointly and severally with the company. In this case, the administrator must provide us with proof of his or her solvency.

A new or recently established company must provide us with its business plan and sufficient guarantees. According to the current tenancy law, there is no limit to the amount of the rent deposit for commercial premises. Depending on the risk involved, the deposit should be set higher or lower for a newly founded company that does not yet have sufficient proof of liquidity and income.


 © Written by Esther Lauber, Real Estate Trustee with Advanced Federal Diploma of Professional Education and Training, real estate manager in Carouge Geneva, translated with (free version)