How can you find a new apartment or purchase a home, how should you prepare for moving, and where can you obtain advice if problems arise?
You can listen to brief introductory information in your language here:
+ Information page on housing in 15 languages
+ Checklists on moving
+ Mieterinnen- und Mieterverband Luzern
+ ch.ch - All you want to know about moving
+ luzern-business.ch - list of downloads on housing in Lucerne
+ luzern-business.ch - Living in Lucerne (Download)
+ Video Moving to Switzerland
Frequently asked questions
If you are looking for an apartment or a house, there are various ways to improve your chances of finding one. The best options are Internet, building administrations, newspapers, free advertising, friends and acquaintances.
+ comparis.ch - List of the major online real estate markets in Switzerland
+ immo-zentralschweiz.ch - Specifically for Central Switzerland
Major newspapers (subscriptions available) in which you can find real estate listings:
+ Neue Luzerner Zeitung (NLZ)
+ Anzeiger Luzern
Rental apartments can also be found via housing cooperatives (Wohnbaugenossenschaften).
+ All housing cooperatives
+ Allgemeine Baugenossenschaft Luzern
+ Baugenossenschaft Pro Familia Luzern
If you are interested in renting an apartment, you generally must fill out an application form, which you can obtain from the current tenant or the landlord. Depending on the type of management, application forms may also be available online.
To confirm that a person is able to pay the rent, a summary from the law-enforcement registry (Betreibungsamt) must often be submitted. This document can be obtained from the Betreibungsamt for the city of Lucerne:
Stadt Luzern, Betreibungsamt
Winkelriedstrasse 14, 6002 Luzern
Telephone: +41 (0)41 208 73 25
Office hours: Mo-Fr 7.30-12.00 and 13.30-17.00 p.m.
If you are moving to Lucerne, sign off at the registry office (Einwohnerdienste) of your community before you move. You must then register at the Einwohnerdienste of the city of Lucerne within 12 days.
Obergrundstrasse 1, 6003 Luzern
Telephone: +41 (0)41 208 83 56
+ You can register here
Further general information on registration an cancelling
+ ch.ch - Notification of departure and registration
As a rule, tenants and landlords sign a written rental contract, or lease. With their signatures, both parties agree to abide by the conditions it contains. Some important components are the rent, house rules, and termination protocol.
The house rules (Hausordnung) contain regulations that aim to ensure amicable and orderly conditions in the building. These include quiet hours, use of the laundry room, tidiness of the stairways, and keeping pets.
+ Example of house rules
The termination details for your apartment are dependent on your rental contract. If your lease is cancelled, you have 30 days to defend yourself at the Arbitration Office (Schlichtungsbehörde). Rental contracts may also be terminated outside the official termination dates. In this case, however, you must find one, or preferably several, potential next tenants and suggest them to the management. They must be solvent and acceptable to the landlord.
You can obtain legal advice regarding any type of rental dispute at the Arbitration Office (Schlichtungsbehörde).
The Tenants‘ Union (Mietverband) also offers legal counseling to members free of charge.
+ Immoscout24 - Further information on timely lease termination and a sample termination letter
On moving out, the apartment is carefully inspected by both the tenant and landlord. Major and minor damage is documented in a protocol. The life expectancy for various components of the apartment is specified in so-called life-span tables (Lebensdauertabellen).
Do not sign the protocol until you are certain that you understand everything and can give your consent.
You can find information on the life expectancy of various apartment furnishings here; a detailed brochure is also available:
Many landlords and managements require private liability insurance (Privathaftpflichtversicherung) or/and household insurance (Hausratsversicherung). The liability insurance will cover damage that you did not cause intentionally.
+ comparis.ch - Comparison of premiums for household and liability insurance
The rental fees consist of the monthly rent and the heating and incidental fees. The monthly rent is specified in the lease. Incidental fees (Nebenkosten) include expenses for heating, water, custodian, yard maintenance, sewage, trash collection, etc. A portion of the incidental fees is normally paid each month with the rent.
At least once a year you will receive a final bill (Schlussabrechnung). The Accounting year (Abrechnungsjahr) generally runs from July 1st to June 30th. If your total payments amounted to less than the final bill, you will have to pay the remaining balance. If your payments were higher, the landlord will have to refund the difference.
Permissible incidental fees: Heating, hot water, custodial fees, staircase cleaning, yard maintenance, electricity, elevator, cable-network use, sewage, trash collection, and managerial fees.
+ Booklet on incidental fees
+ immoscout24.ch - further information on incidental fees
The rent deposit – also known as a security guarantee – provides the tenant with a surety bond. Tenants must often pay a certain amount in advance – a so-called deposit (Kaution). It amounts to a maximum of three months‘ rent, and is paid into a special bank account (Mietkautionskonto) in the tenant’s name. After moving out, the deposit is refunded to the tenant with interest. In housing cooperatives, the tenant usually does not pay a deposit, but pays a membership fee. This can be substantially higher than three months‘ rent. There are other alternatives to the rent deposit such as the „firstcaution“.
All information on rent deposits:
+ ch.ch - Notification of departure and registration
If you want to buy residential property, you need to consider a number of factors, such as the type of property, financing, the mortgage, the sales contract, and taxes.
+ ch.ch - Homeownership
You can find information and obtain advice on buying property here:
There are several organizations that are involved with housing in Switzerland. One of these is the Tenants’ Union (Mieterinnen- und Mieterverband). This organization represents the interests and rights of tenants, advises its members, and performs other services for them.
+ Tenants' Union
The arbitration boards (Schlichtungsbehörden) also provide information on all aspects of renting, such as lease termination, rent increases, or deposit refunds. In addition, they offer mediation services when conflicts arise between tenants and landlords. The counseling and negotiations are free of charge. All pertinent records must be brought to the counseling session.
+ Arbitration boards
Lucerne Attorneys‘ Association (Luzerner Anwaltsverband).
+ Counseling available free of charge