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Periods and dates of notice

Check your lease with regard to the notice to be given for termination and expiry of the term of the lease. In principle, a lease for a indefinite term may be terminated by giving notice for the termination of the lease, except in cases provided by law for early termination. In this article, I describe the ordinary termination by the tenant. A rental agreement with fixed term end without notice.

The notice period

According to the current tenancy law, the notice period is at least

  • 3 months for residential premises
  • 6 months for a commercial premise
  • 14 days for the end of a month for furnished rooms and for separately rented parking spaces and other similar facilities

These minimum notice periods are mandatory by law and may not be shorter, but longer notice periods may be provided for in the special conditions. Tenants and landlords of commercial premises sometimes negotiate notice periods longer than six months. In the case of a mixed use, for example residential and commercial premises, the predominant use is decisive.

The termination date

If no termination date has been agreed, it is provided for by local custom or by law. There is no local custom in Geneva. In this case, articles 266b to 266e of the Swiss Code of Obligations must be applied, i.e. the termination date is at the end of a quarter, calculated from the beginning of the rental period, and other immovable property, such as cellars, barns or stables, at the end of a six-month rental period (or, in the case of local custum, at the end of a period of three months to the customary local date).

If the notice period and the termination date have not been respected, the termination takes effect for the next relevant term.

Leases in Geneva

Most of the rental agencies use the leases established by the Geneva Real Estate Chamber and the USPI Geneva, which provide for the following notice periods and termination dates:

Flats

Most leases for flats are entered into for an initial term of one year. If neither party terminates the lease with three months' notice for its termination date, it is tacitly renewed under the conditions in force for one year and so on from year to year.

More details: Leases for flats

Houses

Most of the leases for the villas are concluded for an initial period of three years and are renewed from year to year.The diplomatic clause or the release clause allows the tenant to terminate the lease early as from the second or third year if certain conditions are met.

More details: Leases for villas in the canton of Geneva in Switzerland

Commercial premises

Most leases for commercial premises provide for an initial term of 5 years and rent indexation. If neither party terminates the lease with 6 months' notice for its termination date, it is tacitly renewed on the terms in force for a period of 5 years and so on for 5 years in 5 years.

More details: Leases for commercial premises

Garages and parking spaces

The initial lease is for one year, the notice period is 3 months before the termination date, it is tacitly renewed under the conditions in force for a new period of one year and then a renewal from year to year is planned. If the garage is rented in conjunction with a commercial premise, the notice period is increased to 6 months.

The landlord is free to use these form rental agreements. Within the scope of the law, the landlord may conclude rental agreements with other notice periods and dates.

Sending and content of the termination letter

The letter giving notice of termination must be sent to the agency by post (registered letter with confirmation of receipt) and you must mention the date when you wish to leave the premises or your flat, give your name, address, etc. (eventually private and professional telephone numbers, e-mail, etc.) and the objects of termination of lease (flat, parking place etc.). Sending by email or fax is invalid.

Signature

The letter must be signed by all co-tenants of the lease and, in the case of family housing, the husband and wife or both partners must sign it, even if the original lease was signed by only one of the persons. The signature must be handwritten. A authenticated electronic signature combined with an electronic time stamp is treated in the same way as a handwritten signature in accordance with art. 14 paragraph 2bis of the Swiss Code of Obligations. The person who writes the termination letter must be of legal age and capable of discernment.

Delivery of the notice of termination

The handing over of the notice of termination applies according to the principle of receipt. For a registered letter, the day on which the pick-up invitation is placed in the post office box is deemed to be the day of receipt if this takes place during business hours and the letter can be picked up on the same day. If the recipient has a letterbox, the letter is deemed to have been received no later than the next day of the unsuccessful attempted delivery.

The effect of termination

The termination is irrevocable and can only be revoked with mutual consent. Partial termination is not possible. Termination cannot be subject to a condition, unless the condition depends on the recipient. For example, you cannot make the termination of your apartment conditional on finding another apartment, but you can terminate it on the condition that the landlord accepts to rent you another vacant apartment one floor up.

Early restitution of a flat or villa

If you wish to hand over your home without observing the period of notice to quit, you may be released from your commitments before expiry on the following conditions: You must introduce a new tenant who is solvent and whom the lessor cannot reasonably reject, and who must also be prepared to sign the lease on the same conditions. In accordance with the general conditions and regulations and conventions regarding rental of flats and villas applicable in the Canton of Geneva and the framework contract applicable to french-speaking Switzerland, the period of premature surrender is 30 days for the 15th or the end of the month. The deadline begins to run as soon as a substitute tenant is presented. The lessor is not obliged to enter into a lease with the person whom you have introduced, although you are nevertheless released from your lease if your candidate satisfies the abovementioned conditions. If you do not introduce a candidate, you must pay the rent until expiry of the period of the lease or until the next contractual or legal expiry date.

Early restitution of business premises

You may be released from your commitments before expiry of the lease if you introduce at least one solvent tenant who is prepared to take over the lease on the same conditions at the date when your premises are handed back. The period of anticipated or premature notice is 90 days from the end of the month in accordance with the general conditions and regulations and conventions regarding rental of business premises applicable in the Canton of Geneva (edition 2010). Within the 30 days you must provide the lessor with a complete file relating to the new lessee. Nevertheless, the landlord cannont be compelled to accept signature of a lease with the candidate whom you introduce, but you will be released from the lease if that candidate satisfies the abovementioned conditions. If you do not introduce a new tenant, you must pay the rent until expiry of the period of the lease or until the next contractual or legal expiry date.

Conclusion

Check the above points and send the termination letter to the administration in good time. We sometimes receive notices of termination that are legally invalid. Most errors are the sending of the notice by email or the absence of a signature.

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

 

More information with video that may be of interest to you:

Limited or indefinite or definable duration of the lease
Termination of the commercial lease
Termination of lease for a family dwelling
Early termination of rental agreement (flat or house)

 

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