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About one tenth of all Swiss people own a second home in Switzerland. Most of them a vacation home or apartment. The German-speaking Swiss love Ticino, for example. For weekend getaways, holidays such as Easter, Ascension or Whitsun, family vacations or their (planned) retirement. Many rent out their house or apartment by the day or week to at least partially finance their housing costs (mortgage interest, ancillary costs and maintenance costs). To acquaintances, friends or relatives. Or strangers, for example via platforms such as Airbnb. For many, this is now likely to be over: With the Lex Airbnb, the canton of Ticino has introduced the toughest rules for the short-term rental of residential property.
Are you considering renting out your house or apartment through Airbnb? In the article "What You Should Consider Before Renting Out Your House or Apartment on Airbnb" you will learn everything you need to know. Renting to short-term residents is likely to become more difficult throughout Switzerland.
At the end of November 2022, the Ticino cantonal government, the Consiglio dello Stato, passed an ordinance in the cantonal building code that came into force on December 2 and is unofficially known as the Lex Airbnb: Anyone who rents out a house or apartment with fewer than four beds online for a total of more than 90 days per calendar year is considered a commercial landlord and requires a permit. For the permit, landlords must submit a conversion application to the municipality where they are located, and their valuable second homes (secondary residences) will now be designated as less valuable primary residences (primary residences). This applies to all private landlords who have rent out
Primary residences are houses or apartments that are permanently occupied by local residents. Second homes include vacation homes or vacation apartments, but also apartments for weekly residents or by companies for their employees. Many tourist hotspots restrict the share of second homes so that locals can find affordable housing in primary residences. In Ticino, for example, to 20 percent.
The conversion is likely to lead to a loss in value for many vacation properties that were previously considered second homes, because according to UBS Alpine Property Focus 2023, sales prices for first homes will be 15 to 20 percent lower. What does this mean for owners of vacation properties in Ticino?
Experts expect that many landlords will no longer rent online or will limit themselves to 90 days a year in order to avoid the obligation to register and thus avoid the conversion of second homes to first homes. One possible consequence: if fewer vacation homes or vacation apartments are rented out, demand will exceed supply and rents will rise. This is what Oliver Keller, president of the Association of Holiday Home and Apartment Owners ACAV Ticino, expects: "In the future, anyone who wants to rent a vacation apartment or house in Ticino will find a smaller supply." How the obligation to register will be implemented in concrete terms is still unclear. Some municipalities already control the regulations, others are still waiting.
It is unclear how many landlords rent out their house or apartment for more than 90 days a year. Tourism experts estimate that private landlords account for a quarter of all overnight stays in Ticino. In January 2023 alone, more than 150 landlords registered in Lugano.
Guests staying in a vacation home or apartment in Ticino pay a visitor's tax of 2 Swiss francs per night. By making it compulsory for commercial landlords to register, the canton wants to ensure that landlords collect the visitor's tax and hand it over with the promotion tax (1.25 Swiss francs per day and guest). The situation is different in Bern, Geneva, Lucerne and Zurich, where (affordable) living space is scarce and platforms such as Airbnb have therefore been or are to be restricted:
Trend: Wherever residential space is scarce, temporary rentals will be more or less restricted sooner rather than later. This applies to cities and to tourist hotspots such as old towns.
In 2022, prices for second homes in the Alpine region continued to rise. On average by 7 percent, in Arosa even by 20 percent. This means that prices have risen by around half during the pandemic. This is likely to be similar in other Swiss vacation regions. There are a few reasons for this: During the pandemic, most Swiss people, if any, vacationed in Switzerland - and many of them bought a vacation home or apartment. Many also used their second home during the pandemic to move their home office to the mountains or a lake. That is likely to change again. On the one hand, many have returned to the office or home office, and on the other, many Swiss are enjoying their vacations abroad again. This is why the real estate experts at UBS expect prices for vacation properties to stagnate or even fall slightly this year in the UBS Alpine Property Focus 2023. However, not quickly and not sharply. The supply is too low for that, because few houses or apartments are being built and many vacation properties changed hands during the pandemic.