Keeping animals in the rental apartment

Pets can anger one or another neighbor quickly. Is it allowed to own pets in every apartment? This article provides the rules for Swiss pet ownership in rental apartments.


No arrangement in the rental contract

If there is no regulation in the rental agreement about owning animals in the rental apartment, basically you may keep four-legged pets. However, there are special provisions for unusual species such as parrots, poisonous snakes or tarantula. Also, a large number of exotic animals certainly can lead to greater wear and tear on the apartment. If the animal disturbs or endangers one of the neighbors or the landlord, the landlord can demand the pet to be eliminated. In such cases, ordinary or even extraordinary termination is possible.


Keeping animals restricted or forbidden in the rental agreement and house rules

You may find the answer to whether you can keep a pet in the house rules, because this is part of the contract, or directly in the rental agreement. If there is a prohibition, it well may be the landlord simply does not want pets and does not need to justify it further. If the landlord agrees in one case, he can also withdraw it later. But then he must give a good reason. Then it may be useful to seek a conversation with the landlord.

  • Exception: An exception is small animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs and ornamental fish. As a rule, no consent from the landlord must be obtained. What exactly is a small animal is not regulated by law. As a rule, they are animals that can be kept in a cage.


Consequences of non-compliance with animal prohibition

Whoever does not comply with the landlord’s rules risks a termination, which in the worst case can cancel the tenancy upon 30 days‘ notice being given. Such short-term terminations must be forewarned by a written warning. In this case, the landlord can argue the tenant has violated the „duty of care or consideration.“ The chance to challenge the dissolution of the rental agreement successfully is rather low in this situation.


Observe official regulations

If a person has the landlord’s consent to keep a pet, the federal government’s animal protection regulations must be observed.  In some cases, even exotic animals may be imported, provided they are not species-protected. However, it requires a permit from the cantonal veterinary office. For example, animal protection regulations require a rabbit to have a darkened shelter.


Tip for landlords:

Landlords who want to regulate pet ownership do this best with the form „Agreement on Pet Ownership“ (link in German) as an addition to the rental agreement. The form can be obtained from the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research of the Human-Animal Relationship.