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Duration of the lease, article 255 of the Code of Obligations Swiss

Leases may be concluded for a limited or indefinite duration. Where the intention is that they should end without notice on expiry of the agreed duration, they have a limited duration.

Limited duration

The limited duration can be freely determined. The setting of a maximum term is also possible, e.g. the lease ends at the latest on 30th of April 2025 if no party terminates before that date. A lease extended by the authorities or by agreement in accordance with Art. 272 of the Swiss Code of Obligations becomes a limited-term contract.

At the end of the lease, a new lease for a limited or indefinite term may be expressly or tacitly concluded. If it is tacitly renewed, it becomes a lease with indefinite duration.

Art. 272 provides that the tenant may apply for an extension of the lease if the end of the contract would have painful consequences for him or his family without the interests of the landlord justifying it. According to Art. 273 of the Code of Obligations, the tenant may request it no later than 60 days before the end of the contract. The competent authority will decide by weighing the interests of both parties. The lease for residential premises can be extended for a maximum of 4 years and the lease for commercial premises for a maximum of 6 years.

Early termination according to tenancy law is always possible. I will not go into more detail in this article regarding lease extension and early termination.

Lease for an indefinite duration

Any lease that is not entered into for a limited duration is a lease for an indefinite term. This lease is concluded for a minimum term and is tacitly renewed if neither party gives notice for the end of the term. The general conditions and rental rules and practices applied in the canton of Geneva provide that the residential lease is tacitly renewed from year to year if the parties do not express themselves on its renewal or its termination three months before the end of the term. The three-month notice period corresponds to the minimum legal period for residential property.

For commercial premises the legal deadline is six months before the end of the lease.

The lease for an indefinite period must be duly terminated in order to come to an end.

Lease for a determinable term

If the lease is linked to a resolutory condition, it is simultaneously for a fixed and an indefinite term. A resolutory condition is, for example, the sale of the property or the obtaining of a building permit. If it is concluded that the lease ends in the event of a sale, it does not automatically pass to the buyer. If the condition is not fulfilled, the lease becomes of indefinite duration.

 © Written and translated by Esther Lauber, PReal Estate Trustee with Advanced Federal Diploma of Professional Education and Training, property 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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