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Set subtitles in English, please.

There are several legal regimes for property:

Property under name

Most sales are made under name, that is, the buyer signs the deed of sale in authenticated form before a notary and it is recorded in the Land Registry.

Joint ownership

As a joint owner, you buy a share of the property. A property can therefore belong to several people with or without equal shares in it. Most couples buy their primary residences together in joint ownership. A road serving several villas or buildings can also be jointly owned.

Common ownership

Common ownership is distinct from joint ownership. Each person owns the whole property and does not have a share. Decisions can only be made unanimously.

Condominium ownership

As a buyer of a condominium, you buy a share of the property by floor. The condominium unit is listed in the register of division of ownership and gives the condominium owner exclusive rights. However, the common parts of the building are not included in the exclusive rights of the individual condominium owners. The share listed in the register of division of ownership shows the relationship between all of the rights to the building and those to the condominium unit. It also serves to allocate costs, communal charges and the sink fund (a fund which is paid into to finance future work on common parts of the building) and to calculate voting rights at general meetings..

The property company

You buy shares from a property company, which is registered in the Land Registry as the owner. The sale is effected by selling the share capital and neither an authenticated form nor a new registration in the Land Registry is required.


If you buy shares in a SIAL (tenant-shareholder property company) apartment, the share certificate will give you the exclusive right to rent an apartment. The transfer of shares must be approved by the administrative board and recorded in the shareholders’ register and in the deeds. To obtain credit, the shareholder can pledge the share certificate and the share of unsecured credit related to it. Expenses and costs are distributed in accordance with the number of shares that each shareholder owns.


The SIAL-PPE is the tenant-shareholder property company for condominiums. The ownership of a block of shares is related to the share of unsecured credits. The shareholder has the right to lease his condominium unit. The shareholder’s loan is guaranteed by the registration of property mortgages by the company on the co-ownership share against the deposit of the block of shares with the company. Social security charges are allocated in accordance with the number of shares owned and joint-ownership fees in accordance with the proportion of the property that is jointly owned.

The cooperative

The cooperative members buy a cooperative share and can conclude a favourable rental agreement and the cooperative remains the owner of the property.

Timeshares and serviced apartment-hotel

Several joint owners buy a condominium unit and share its exclusive rights at specified periods of time. This is known as a timeshare. A serviced apartment-hotel is organised into condominium units. Both types of ownership are not significant in Geneva.

© Esther Lauber, Real Estate Trustee with Advanced Federal Diploma of Professional Education and Training, real estate broker

More information with video that may be of interest to you

What type of apartment property to buy in Geneva? PPE? SIAL? SIAL-PPE? PPA? Housing cooperative?
Condominium ownership - legal structure in Switzerland
The land register - what is it for? (Geneva and Switzerland)
Buying a condominium property - documents to check
Set of rules governing administration and use (RAU) condominium Switzerland