Swiss landlords fear lawsuits for turning down heating

Turning down the heating in rented accommodation could lead to a legal quagmire. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Landlords and tenants are opposing government calls to reduce household heating to 19 degrees Celsius, warning it might spark a flurry of lawsuits.

This content was published on October 2, 2022 - 11:53

The Swiss Real Estate Association, which represents landlords, warns that turning down the heating in rented accommodation could result in a legal backlash.

The 19 degree heating target was a specific measure contained in a voluntary energy saving campaignExternal link launched by the government in August.

But legal experts point to a 2017 Supreme Court ruling that said tenants are entitled to minimum heating of 20-21 degrees Celsius. This ruling has opened the door for tenants to sue for compensation should temperatures drop below that mark.

A government spokesperson told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper that the ruling allowed for reasonable deviations from this target.

But it remains unclear who would be legally accountable for turning down the heating – the landlord or the government who called for this action.

The Swiss Tenants’ Association has written to government to say a 19 degree target is unreasonable for elderly or vulnerable people.

“The current discussions prove that this measure simply cannot be implemented,” tenant’s association general secretary Linda Rosenkrantz told the SonntagsZeitung.

The newspaper also warns of possible heating oil shortages this winter caused by a lack of trucks and drivers to transport it.

Some 57% of Swiss households are rented by their occupants, which is one of the highest rental rates in Europe.

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