The Basics of the Rental Application in Switzerland

Responses to your 6 most frequent questions, on the content of ‘dossiers de location’ or ‘demandes fermes’ as it’s called in French by the Swiss régies, ad how to increase your chances to obtain the rental you want.

Have you ever written a tenant application in Switzerland for an apartment to rent with a real estate agency? If so, you know how it can be lengthy and complicated – especially as it’s usually in French. In this article, we provide responses to 6 of your frequent questions, on the content of such ‘dossiers de location’ or ‘demandes fermes’ as it’s called in French by the Swiss régies. Hopefully it will help you get your place to rent.

1. Why do I need to apply for a rental in Switzerland?

Once you have signed the lease, it is legally difficult for a leaser to put a tenant out or even to raise your rent in Switzerland. As a result, owners (and real estate agencies by extension) are particularly careful in choosing the tenant before signing the lease. Practically agencies require candidates to submit a rental application – also known ‘Dossier de location’ or ‘Demande ferme’ in French – with fairly personal information about you as a tenant candidate.

2. What criteria are used by real estate agencies?

To keep it simple, your rental application will help the leaser assess: your ability to sign a lease (your legal status in Switzerland), to pay the rent (your solvability), to take care of the rental property (damage if animals, etc.), and to being a good neighbour (noise, etc.).

3. What information is asked in these forms?

Here are the main pieces of information that are requested in ‘demande ferme’ for a potential tenant in Switzerland. We grouped them in 5 categories for clarity:

·      Contact information: name, address, birthdate, phone, etc.

·      Status in Switzerland: nationality, residence permit, marital status, current residence

·      Your Finances: profession, employer, salary, whether you have unpaid settlements (poursuites in French)

·      Family: kids (and animals)

·      References: people that recommend you

A visual follows in French with an extract from a rental application from a partner Swiss agency.

Dossier Location ancienne inscription


4. What documents will I be asked to obtain?

In Switzerland, the following documents will be asked of you to attach to your application by real estate agencies:

·     Attestation de Non Poursuite, also known as ‘Extrait de l’Office des Poursuites’. Obtaining this document will require you to get to that special office (except in some cantons where you can now do that online, like in Geneva). The original will be needed to be shown and it shouldn’t be older than 3 months old. We wrote some tips about this Attestation de Non Poursuite so check it out.

·     Copy of your identity card : it’s your identity card if you are Swiss or a passport copy as a foreigner / goal is to prove your identity.

·     Copy of your residence permit as foreigner: it is a copy of your permit G, L, B or another, which attests to your authorization to reside in Switzerland, and thus contract for an apartment. If you have not yet obtained this document, it should not be a serious problem if you have European nationality (bilateral agreements) but if you are a foreigner from outside Europe, a Swiss employment contract is likely to be required.

·     Salary statements of the last 3 months: to prove your ability to pay the rent, you will be asked to attach a copy of your last 3 monthly salary sheets. If you are not yet under salary Switzerland, a copy of your employment contract should do the trick. We wrote some tips about on the right income for a rental in Switzerland so check it out.

5. Do I have to bring these documents in person?

Almost no Swiss rental agency allows you to generate your electronic rental application directly from their website. Some might sometimes agree to receive your files in PDF format. A few use the rental software of Immodating. A solution as candidate is indeed to use the rental application in electronic format of Immodating which is completely free and allows you to add other information that will appeal to your agencies (e.g. photo, motivation, etc.).

6. Shall I say the whole truth in my rental application?

We advise you to be very honest in your application. Showing you at your best is normal as we explained in this post on the satirical Worse Rental Application Ever Seen but altering the truth is not in your interest. Being ‘black-listed’ by the local agencies is nothing pleasant if you want to ever find accommodation or worse you could be prosecuted for forgery … Courage in your search, you will succeed by being honest!

Was this helpful? If you enjoyed this article, please share it!

By | 2017-09-17T04:17:27+00:00 30/09/2013|Blog @en|9 Comments

About the Author:

Ancien manager chez Procter & Gamble, Jim Hershkowitz est co-fondateur et administrateur d'Immodating SA. Il vit à Genève avec sa femme, ses 2 enfants, et son bouledogue français. Suivez-le sur Twitter.


  1. on-line 13 November 2018 at 08:34 - Reply

    Thank you for publishing the common questions with answers on the rental applications in Switzerland. I know that for many this topic is essential. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  2. mentor for child 21 September 2018 at 07:48 - Reply

    In different countries, the same processes take place in different ways, so it is necessary to learn all the nuances about how difficult it is and how it happens in the country in which you need it.

  3. I would like to express my greatest appreciation for the published entry! There are workable tips you mentioned above!

  4. paul davidson 5 March 2015 at 15:21 - Reply

    Great article. Thanks for the info, this is really a helpful post.

    • Jim Hershkowitz 13 February 2016 at 14:58 - Reply

      Hi Paul, thanks for your kind note! Glad we could be of help and let us know if we can help any further. Kind regards. Jim Herskowitz (for Immodating SA)

  5. Mark 5 October 2012 at 08:19 - Reply

    Nice one Jim. Wish I would have had this advice when I first moved to Geneva!

    • Immodating 5 October 2012 at 13:41 - Reply

      Hi Mark, Thanks for passing by and leaving a note! Really glad the advice can help. Is there any other advice around the rental market that you wish you had had when arriving in fact? We are preparing some articles and maybe we could dig in that area… Thanks again and take care, Jim (for Immodating)

  6. Joe 5 October 2012 at 05:49 - Reply

    Having just gone through a lengthy apartment search in Switzerland, I have become very familiar with the application process, and I think this blog post describes it perfectly. These are great tips that every new ex-pat should follow when applying for a place, and I strongly recommend using immodating’s electronic application service as well, as it can save a ton of time especially if you are interested in places with multiple agencies.

    • Immodating 5 October 2012 at 13:36 - Reply

      Hi Joe, Thanks for passing by and leaving such a nice note! Glad the advice is helpful to you and most important that our services could help you so much in your search! Please let us know if you see anything else to help you for your rental needs – we would really love to help. Is there something you dream would exist to help you find a place even more easily? Cheers, Jim (for Immodating)

Leave A Comment