Who is a suitable replacement tenant?

Affordable, available apartments are notoriously rare, especially in cities and metropolitan areas. This does have one advantage in that it's generally easy to find a replacement tenant at very short notice. Anyone who is looking for one can use the typical channels and methods - in other words Internet platforms, newspaper ads, local media, announcement boards at universities or in stores, neighbourhood gatherings, etc.

One replacement tenant is sufficient

From a legal standpoint, it is sufficient if one replacement tenant is ready to take over the apartment at the given deadline, in its current state and at the previous terms and conditions. The most important factor is that the replacement tenant must be solvent. Thus, that person must be able to provide information pertaining to his financial situation and in particular get an extract from the debt collection register. Here, too, to be able to establish proof, documents pertaining to the announced replacement tenant should be sent to the building manager using registered mail. «The burden of proof during this process lies fundamentally with the tenant», according to Regula Mühlebach.

Being solvent is important

To what extent a replacement tenant may be turned down is a matter of broad discretion. The landlord may decline the proposed replacement if the rent is more than a third of that person's income, or if that individual would obviously not match the personality of the building. For instance, if the building consists of small apartments occupied largely by elderly people living alone, a large household would not be suited for this neighbourhood.

The Tenants' Association is of the opinion that the tenant is relieved of all liability if he offers a replacement tenant who would be willing to take over the apartment at the given conditions. It's thus not possible for the replacement tenant to suddenly decide to take over the apartment only if it is renovated. In this regard, Hans Bättig from the Homeowners' Association in Bern says, «the current tenant is liable as long as no new rental agreement has been signed.» Because the suggested replacement tenant perhaps is also on the lookout for other options, to be on the safe side you should search for several of them. In Bättig's experience, «I've already seen a case where there were six replacement tenants and of them five withdrew.»

However, if the landlord himself changes the contractual conditions, such as by raising the rent, he is responsible for finding a suitable new tenant.