According to Art. 270 I CO, within 30 days of taking possession of the property, the tenant may challenge the initial rent as unfair before the conciliation authority and request said authority to order a reduction of the rent:
- If the tenant felt compelled to conclude the lease agreement on account of personal or family hardship or by reason of the condition prevailing on the local market for residential and commercial premises; or
- If the initial rent required by the landlords is significantly higher than the previous rent for the same property.
In Geneva, it is mandatory to use an official form when contracting a new lease, on which the amount of rent paid under the previous lease must be indicated. This makes it much easier to verify if the new rent is significantly higher than the previous one, being specified that an increase of over 10% is generally seen as significant.
The deadline to challenge the initial rent is 30 days, starting from the reception of the keys and not from the signature of the contract. This must be done by filing a request to the conciliation authority.