What additional costs may the landlord charge?

Additional costs or not? Total costs for using residential and business premises result from rent and ancillary costs, the latter partly contribute significantly to the total costs. We show you which costs are allowed as so-called incidental costs and which ones your landlord has to bear.


Additional costs are regulated by law

Are your additional costs unexpectedly high compared to the previous year? Or does the billing include cost items that are not stipulated in the lease? Then there is reason to intervene. Because additional costs are not a minor matter. The additional costs you as tenant have to pay is regulated by law. As far as utilities are concerned, you are under no circumstances subjected to your landlord’s arbitrary provisions. Because the right to rent, and thus also the additional costs, are governed by the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR) and the Ordinance on the Rent and Lease of Residential and Business Premises (VMWG) of May 9, 1990.

Additional costs are operating costs

„Additional costs are remuneration for the landlord’s or a third party’s services that are connected with using the thing.“ (In Art. 257a (OR))

Additional costs are so-called operating costs that occur in connection with using a thing. However, only actual expenses may be calculated. An overview of permissible costs covered by this provision has been compiled by the Tenants‘ Association. Among the allowable costs are:

  • Heating and hot water costs

– such as fuel, energy, electricity, maintenance,  inspection, cleaning, administrative work

  • Water costs

– such as waste water, shower, cooking, chemicals for treatment

  • Janitor costs

– such as gross salary for activities like cleaning work, minor maintenance

  • Elevator costs

– such as electricity, maintenance, cleaning

  • General electricity

– for generally accessible rooms such as the staircase, laundry room and operating the washing machine

  • Snow removal costs

– such as salting, graveling and clearing work

  • Garden care

– like mowing, pruning trees

  • Fees for garbage, water and sewage


As a general rule, costs for repairs and purchases are not included in the service charge calculation.

Intervene in case of discrepancies

It is important to know that you only have to pay the costs that you have contractually agreed with your landlord. This means: Even if the costs for the janitor are considered as allowable costs, they may only be charged to you if they are included in your rental contract. In case of uncertainty, take a look at your rental agreement.

But what to do if the landlord merely presents you with a long list of figures without the statement showing for exactly what you pay? Or what to do if you notice a substantial deviation from the previous year’s bill? In such cases, it is advisable to ask the landlord for a detailed service charge statement. Not only a detailed overview of individual expense items and their costs should be listed, but also the allocation formula needs to be declared.


If you find any discrepancies, ask your landlord for a correction.