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!

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