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Subletting with Airbnb: What needs to be considered?

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The intermediation platform Airbnb was founded in 2008 and is up and running today in 191 countries. In Switzerland, some 25,000 accommodations are currently on offer – or approx. 25 percent of the entire hotel room capacity. On the supply side, the platform is essentially open to anyone who wishes to rent out vacant accommodation temporarily.

Subletting of a rental object, either partly or fully, is essentially permitted under Swiss law. The landlord may only refuse permission for a sublet in the following cases:

  • The tenant does not reveal the conditions of the sublet. 
  • The conditions of the sublet are unacceptable. 
  • The landlord suffers considerable disadvantages due to the sublet.

The landlord's consent must be obtained before a sublet. Since properties on intermediation platforms like Airbnb are often only sublet for a short time and to changing guests, it is recommended that you request general consent for this type of subletting from the landlord.

What information should you pass on to the landlord?

The main information you must pass on to the landlord when subletting is the rental charge. The simplest way for the tenant to keep the landlord informed is generally to forward him/her the planned Airbnb entry.

What conditions are deemed to be unacceptable?

Conditions are regarded as unacceptable in particular if the subletting charge the tenant is demanding is excessive. A modest premium is of course allowed since the Airbnb host is usually offering the rental property as fully furnished and is taking care of cleaning and supplying fresh bedding and towels. At the same time, the property may not be sublet commercially.

In short: If subletting an apartment or house results in a profit, the landlord can demand surrender of the corresponding amount.

When does the landlord suffer considerable disadvantages?

The landlord suffers considerable disadvantages when, for example,

  • a rental property is over-occupied due to a sublet or 
  • guests disturb neighbors due to their behavior – for example through being too noisy. 

In cases of this sort, the landlord is entitled to refuse or withdraw his/her consent to sublet.

Example of a court decision

In February 2017, the Rental Court in Zurich decided that a tenant could no longer offer his apartment on booking platforms because he had breached the subletting rules. Moreover, he had to surrender the profit he had made to the landlord.

Do Airbnb guests have to pay tourist tax?

For operators of hotels and guest houses, collecting tourist tax for each night stayed is standard procedure in many municipalities. Since intermediation platforms increasingly represent competition to the traditional hotel business, some municipalities have modified their regulations: They now require Airbnb hosts too to collect tourist tax from their guests. The tax is often combined with a ticket for the local public transportation system, clearly offering added value for the guest. It's certainly worth your while to obtain the corresponding information from your local municipality.

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