Sub-letting an apartment: is it possible and under which conditions?

Sub-letting an apartment can be a very practical solution and is quite common in Geneva. However, the applicable rules should be well understood before choosing this option, as sub-letting involves by definition some risks, whether for the landlord, the main-tenant or the sub-tenant.

According to Art. 262 II CO, sub-letting is permitted only with the landlord’s consent. The landlord may refuse his consent only if:

  • the tenant refuses to inform him of the terms of the sub-lease;
  • the terms and conditions of the sub-lease are unfair in comparison with those of the principal lease;
  • the sub-letting gives rise to major disadvantages for the landlord.

Sub-letting an apartment is by definition an interim solution and should not, according to the Courts, result in transferring the lease of the apartment. That’s why sub-letting an apartment is excluded when it appears clearly that the main-tenant never intends to return to the apartment.

The main-tenant may charge something to the sub-tenant when the apartment is furnished but within reasonable limits. Generally, for furnished apartments, increases of rent up to 30% more that main lease contract are regarded as acceptable.

If the sub-letting is not announced to the landlord, the main-tenant is exposed to the risk of an early termination of the main lease contract, with a 30 days notice for the end of a month (Art. 257f III CO).

It should be noted that no contractual relations exist between the landlord and the sub-tenant. The main-tenant remains responsible towards the landlord for any risks regarding the rented property, such as late payment or damages. That’s why the sub-tenant should be chosen carefully by the main-tenant.

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This website aims to provide general information regarding Swiss law and should not be regarded as a legal opinion. For more specific advice, do not hesitate to contact us.