In Switzerland, the rental deposit is not transferred to the personal bank account of the landlord. Instead, the money is deposited by opening a savings account specifically for this purpose. This makes the whole process safer as it becomes an untouchable asset.
In order to open the account, the landlord will either send you an account opening form which you need to sign and send back to the bank or you can open it yourself. Usually, the landlord picks the bank but you are free to suggest a different one that fits your needs better. The amount of the deposit may not exceed 3 months of rent.
According to the bank you choose, the conditions of your rental deposit savings account will be different. Some banks charge fees to open the account while others are free. As with a regular savings account, you can earn interest on your deposit. The rate varies from bank to bank. For instance, Crédit Agricole next bank offers an account that is free to open and earns you a 0.20% interest rate.
After leaving your apartment, the landlord will proceed to an exit inspection to check if there are any damages or liabilities remaining. If everything is fine, the deposit will usually be returned to you within 30 days of your contract’s expiry. In case that the landlord fails to repay the deposit within one year, the money will automatically be returned to you.
Alternatively, an insurance company can take care of the rental deposit. This has the advantage that you don’t have to come up with that much money upfront. For their service, they charge a yearly rate of around 5% of the deposit.
In addition to the rental deposit, foreigners are often asked to have a guarantor who is responsible for the risk of non-payment. It has to be someone who lives in Switzerland and has a salary.