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Drafting of the lease

Even if a lease can be conclued orally, it is recommended to do so in writing. The lease law must be respected. Clauses that are contrary to the mandatory articles of the lease law are null and void.

The master agreement

The joint clauses were declared legally binding for french speaking Switzerland by Federal Council degree of 25th June 2008.

The mandatory notice of fixing the rent

In the canton of Geneva, the notice of determination of the rent when entering into a new lease is a mandatory form to be completed and given to the tenant at latest upon to taking possession of the rented house. This form is not mandatory for the rental of luxury villas with 6 or more rooms, excluding kitchen, or if the rent is controlled by the state.

Civil liability insurance

The tenant and the owner must also take out civil liability insurance.

Duration of the lease

In principle, the lease for a villa is concluded for an initial tenancy of three years. Longer periods are possible. The diplomatic clause allows the tenant to terminate the lease prematurely from the second year as long as he fulfills certains conditions.

The essential elements of the lease

The main lease must contain the following elements:

  • Designation for a rent lease for a villa
  • Building
  • Lessor
  • Respresentative
  • Tenant: in case of a family dwelling, both married or entered in an agreement must sign the lease
  • Object of the rental
  • Dependencies
  • Destination of the premises
  • Lease-term: an indexed-linked lease must be concluded for minimum 5 years, a staggered lease must last at least 3 years, fixed or indefinite term
  • Start of lease
  • End of lease
  • Renewal and termination:according to the lease law, the termination period is a minimum of 3 months for villas
  • Rent: fixed, staggered or indexed
  • heating and indidental expenses: individual, fixed price or provisions
  • Rent guarantee: the amount of the bank guarantee is limited to the amount corresponding to a maximum of 3 month's rent
  • Jurisdiction
  • Appendix: In Geneva: General conditions and rental rules and practices applied in the canton of Geneva

Special conditions

Garden maintenance

It may be wise to specify the gardening work. Art. 29 of the general conditions stipulate that the tenant must maintain the garden. Garden maintenance also includes scarifying and fertilation of the lawn, removing weeds, cleaning slabs, cutting roses, etc.Most tenants doesn't know how to handle them properly themselves. Garden maintenance is often neglected by the tenant and rehabilitation at the end of the lease can be very expensive. That is why I recommend that the owners either add more details about maintenance or hire a professional gardener at the expense of the tenant to keep the garden in good condition.

Rental of a villa Minergie

The tenant must conclude a subscription for ventilation maintenance and regular filter replacement.

Animals authorized or not

The keeping of animals is tolerated to please unless otherwise agreed. However, the lessor may prohibit the keeping of animals. He often doesn't accept docs.

Responsibilities of the tenant with regard to maintenance of the villa

The tenant renting a villa has more obligations than a tenant renting a flat. The main obligations incumbent on him at his own expense are the following (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Maintenance and annual inspection of the heating system
  • Periodic descaling of water-heaters
  • Regular cleaning of tanks, sacks and septic tanks and reponsibility for the costs of unblocking pipes inside and outside at his own expense
  • Taking all necessary precautions against the risks of fire, water damage, empty sanitary installations outside to avoid all risk of freezing
  • Regular cleaning of gutters and downspout
  • Observing the official and private regulations and easements associated with the property
  • Untertaking the costs charged for his consumption of water, gas, and electricity as well as radio and television licence charges
  • The installation, maintenance and replacement of the fabric of the existing canopies are the responsibility of the tenant and follow the pattern chosen by the landlord
  • The tenant who has the use of the garden is responsible for maintaining the garden and the outside trimming and care of trees, roses, shrubs and hedges, and removing garden waste, etc.
  • The civil protection shelter must be ready for use at all times and as rapidly as possible, for the protection of residents
  • The ventilation equipment must never be removed or dismountet

Diplomatic clause (clause diplomatique)

The diplomatic clause is applicable to tenants holding a legitimation card issued by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The diplomatic clause provides that, if the tenant's services are terminated or he is transferred outside of the Canton of Geneva, he is entitled, on presenting an affidavit issued by his employer, to give notice of termination of lease with effect from the end of month following the month during which he invokes the present clause. An indemnity of a maximum 3 month's rent is due to the owner, but it will be reduced in terms of the effective loss of rent if the villa can be re-let to a third party less than three monts after the tenant has effectively departed. The earliest point at which the tenant can invoke the diplomatic clause is the end of the fist year.

Clause governing release from an obligation (clause libératoire)

The clause governing release from an obligation resembles the diplomatic clause. It applies to persons who request it and who work in an international organization or multinational company and who are not diplomats. It also allows premature termination on the same conditions as those stipulated in the diplomatic clause. The said clause is not included in the conditions applied in the Canton of Geneva. In other words, it is negotiable and the owner is not obliged to accept it for inclusion in the lease.

© Esther Lauber, Property Fiduciary with Federal Diploma of Higher Vocational Education and Training

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