Swiss rents are the most expensive in Europe by a long margin, with tenants shelling out almost a fifth of their income on housing costs, according to a study.
The Swiss Tenants’ Association (STA), which commissioned the survey, said that rental costs for flats and houses have rocketed by 85 per cent in the past two decades.
It found that rents in Switzerland are double the average paid by tenants in the European Union and that the Swiss spend on average 18 per cent of their gross income on housing costs.
However, this figure soared to nearly 45 per cent for people on lower incomes.
This meant that rental costs accounted for the bulk of household expenditure, said the STA.
It added that the 85 per cent rise in rents between 1982 and 2004 was almost double the increase in the cost of living – 46 per cent – during the same period.
The association is therefore calling for more action over high rents and a change in the way rents are worked out.
Costs of moving
The study also found that the costs of moving were substantial for both the property owner and the departing tenant.
Together, these expenses amounted to at least SFr2 billion ($1.7 billion) a year or the equivalent of 0.5 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The STA warned that about a sixth of all domestic rental properties in Switzerland have not been renovated since at least 1971. It said that at least 175,000 properties needed a makeover.
The association said, however, that there was a real danger that people on low incomes would be forced out of the rental market as renovations often pushed rents up.
swissinfo with agencies
From 1990 to 2002 the average amount spent on rent – as a percentage of household income – rose from 14-18%
From 1982 to 2004 rents rose by 85%.
Rents in Switzerland are 70% higher than in neighbouring Germany.