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The explanations below relate mainly to commercial and residential leases for which the provisions on protection against unfair rent apply.

When is a periodic rent increases appropriate?

The parties may enter into a periodic lease increase for different reasons. For example, if market conditions are unfavourable to the landlord, he or she may lower the initial rent and stagger it in order to obtain a sufficient return at the end of the lease. Or the parties can negotiate a graduated rent if they wish to finalize the rent evolution in advance. In this case, staggering will replace future cost increases.

Conditions to be met

The following three conditions must be met:

  1. The lease contract must be concluded for a minimum period of 3 years
    2. The rent is not increased more than once a year
    3. The amount of the increase shall be fixed in Swiss francs

If these three conditions are not met, the staggering clause will not be valid.

The release clause or the diplomatic clause allowing the tenant to terminate the rental agreement early are possible, but the lessor is bound by a minimum term of three years. The rent can be staggered upwards or downwards.The combination of an indexation clause with a staggering clause is prohibited.

Rent adjustments

In Geneva, each increase in periodic rent by fixed amounts must be notified using the official form, the "Avis de confirmation d'échelon". It must be communicated to the tenant at the earliest 4 months before it comes into force, but at the latest the day before it comes into force. In my opinion, this formalism does not serve much purpose, because the contestation of the rent in instalments is excluded during the course of the lease. A rent reduction is not subject to any formality.

Other motifs for increases are not permitted during the term of the graduated lease, but two exceptions are possible:

  • The lease may expressly provide for an increase in the rent in the event of additional services provided by the lessor.
  • The lease may also expressly provide for an adjustment of the rent in the event of new charges which could not be taken into account at the time of the conclusion of the instalment clause.

In these two cases, the increase must be notified no later than 10 days before it comes into force.

Lease expiry and renewal

If the staggered lease is renewed at the end of the term, the parties may request a rent increase or decrease. According to the Federal Supreme Court, a rent adjustment according to the absolute method can only be demanded when the lease could have been terminated for the first time.

Reference dates according to the relative calculation method

If the parties have entered into a staggered lease to finalize in advance the evolution of the rent, the reference date corresponds to the date of expiry of the staggering clause.

If the staggering clause was entered into in order to give the tenant a discount or to gradually achieve a sufficient return, the date of the conclusion of the staggering clause should be taken as the basis for the calculation. It makes sense to mention this in the lease contract or in the instalment rent agreement and to specify the basis for calculation, such as the mortgage rate and the Swiss consumer price index.

In the event of a transfer or takeover of the lease

In the event of transfer or resumption of the lease, the staggering clause remains applicable.


Code des Obligations Suisse, art. 269 c
Das Schweizerische Mietrecht, Kommentar, SVIT, 4. Auflage, 2018
Droit du bail à loyer, commentaire pratique, François Bohnet et Marino Montini, en collaboration avec le séminaire sur le droit du bail de l'Université de Neuchâtel, édition 2010

© Written and translated by Esther Lauber, Real Estate Trustee with Advanced Federal Diploma of Professional Education and Training, real estate manager
Legal terms taken from the portal of the Swiss goverment (Swiss laws), partly translated from French to English with DeepL, in case of doubt, the French or Germain version should apply

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