Finding a suitable rental property in Geneva can be daunting.
In this article, we will help you understand the basics steps – and what to expect – of finding and applying for a rental property in Geneva.
Although there is a lot of information on the Internet on this subject, there are few comprehensive ones, or the information is only provided in French or German. So let’s start with the basics.
The documents required
Apart from a passport or valid national identification card, one must possess a valid Swiss work permit, which normally is provided by the new employer.
You also need to have a work attestation, given by the HR department, showing such basic information as full name, date of birth, nationality, work permit type, employment position, a start date of the new job in Geneva, and salary expectation (yes this is a rather private piece of information but in Switzerland, money counts!). Presenting a simple yet official bank statement is not sufficient.
As well, a third-party liability insurance attestation (called RC insurance) is required, which can be obtained through a local insurance company.
Finally, a non-prosecution register extract (in French: “un extrait de register de non-poursuites”) that basically confirms you are not in financial debt with the authorities or a third party. This is required even if you have just arrived in the country. Although easily obtainable either online or in physical form at the “guichet”, it’s not free, but nothing is free, especially in Switzerland!
Finding a property on the market
To find a rental property, you must search either a large Swiss real estate search engine that encompasses available properties (but not all are found on one individual site!). Or you one can painstakingly search the 35 odd real estate agencies’ Internet sites individually. However, by the time one filters through all the available properties to view, some of them may already be gone. So, time is of the essence.
Once the desired properties are found, you must act quickly and contact the real estate agency (or in some rare cases, the owner) and ask for a viewing. This is an extraordinary experience as often the agency will impose a strict time frame to view the property, or they organise a group viewing. The former scenario requires you to pass by the agency, present ID, collect the keys, and go view the property alone.
Or in the latter scenario, one visits the property with 40 other people. Well, it’s not always that many people, but I have recently visited a newly renovated flat in a nice neighborhood where 53 people showed up, and half of them apparently showed strong interest.
Making a lease application
Ah yes, the flat has all its attributes and you want to be able to move in quickly. But neither money nor all the other aspects mentioned above are sufficient. One must apply for the property as one does for a job posting. Deposit all the documents requested by the rental agency, complete a one to two-page application form, and patiently wait for the outcome.
How long is the waiting time? Easily more than a week, regardless that the start of the move-in date is inching ever closer.
To alleviate this stress, relocation companies exist just to do all this legwork for you. You do have to pay a bit for them. But the results of their work will undoubtedly be beneficial to you. You will also avoid many obstacles and headaches alike.
In our next article, we will look at the entry requirements and what to expect vis-à-vis the estate agency.