Issues when moving out early

An increasing number of tenants are changing apartments without observing standard moving dates. To be let out of a rental agreement early you must overcome several hurdles, and it's important to avoid formal errors.

Jürg Zulliger

As is the case with many other contracts, with rental agreements there are special regulations concerning dates for giving notice and the notice period. In this regard, Hans Bättig, Secretary of the Homeowners' Association of the Canton of Bern, states, «I'm hearing more frequently these days that tenants often want to move out immediately, at the end of the month.» This trend is confirmed by Regula Mühlebach, Director of the Tenants' Association: «We estimate that today a third of all rental agreements are terminated outside the contractual deadlines.»

Three months notice

The following basic rules are in effect: according to tenancy law, at least three months notice must be given when leaving an apartment On the other hand, in Switzerland there are regional differences pertaining to the date for giving notice. In the Zurich area, apartment rental agreements frequently have only 1 April and 1 October as official dates for giving notice. In other regions and cities, such as in Eastern Switzerland or in the Canton of Bern, the trend is towards 11 dates when you can give notice - in other words at the end of each month except for New Year's Eve/New Years. The determining factor for the length of notice and the date for giving notice is always the signed agreement.

A popular exception

The law provides for a single exception, but one that is used quite often: anyone who provides a suitable, solvent replacement tenant can move out before the end of the agreement and is relieved of any obligations. Here, though, a notice period of roughly 30 days is to be observed during which the landlord has time to review the proposed replacement tenant.