Change of ownership

In the event of the sale of a rental property or a change of ownership, all tenancies (e.g. residential or commercial premises) are transferred to the acquirer (Art. 261 CO).

change of owner,consequences for tenant

Transfer of the tenancy

Tenancies are transferred to the new owner at the time of transfer of ownership of the property (entry in the land register, Art. 656 CC, Art. 972 CC in conjunction with Art. 948 CC).

In the case of movable property, ownership and thus also a tenancy relationship in the property do not pass to the acquirer until the transfer of possession (art. 714 CC).

Termination by the new owner

In the case of residential and commercial premises, the new owner may terminate the tenancy with effect from the next statutory date, subject to the statutory notice period, if he/she claims urgent personal need for himself/herself, close relatives or in-laws (art. 261 para. 1 lit. a CO).

Time limits and deadlines

The new owner cannot terminate the tenancy before the transfer of ownership. Such a termination would come from the wrong party and would be void.

For a termination of residential or commercial premises by the new owner due to urgent own need, the statutory notice periods and dates apply, not the contractually agreed ones (Art. 261 para. 1 lit. a CO). The notice of termination must be given close to the time of acquisition of ownership.

Own need

The new owner can only terminate the contract without observing the contractual periods and deadlines if he/she claims urgent own need. The new owner must prove urgent own need.

Urgent personal need exists if there is a serious, current and proven need of the new owner for himself or close relatives. The urgency is to be understood on the one hand in terms of time, and on the other hand also in terms of objectivity. For objective reasons, it must not be reasonable for the new owner to forego the use of the rented property for a longer period of time. This also includes valid economic reasons.

If there is no urgent own need, the termination is invalid. It has no effect on the next permissible contractual date.

Liability of the seller

The new owner may – provided he can plead urgent own need – terminate the tenancy with effect from a statutory date, observing the statutory notice period. He therefore does not need to adhere to the contractual termination dates and deadlines.

The seller is liable to the tenant for any damage caused by such termination (Art. 261 para. 3 CO).


Notice lock-up period

An already existing notice lock-up period (art. 271a para. 1 lit. e CO) is transferred to the acquirer. However, a termination due to urgent own need before the expiry of the blocking period remains possible.

Pending proceedings

If arbitration or court proceedings are already pending prior to the acquisition which concern the tenancy or will also affect it in the future (rent adjustment, removal of defects, contestation of termination, extension), the acquirer enters into the proceedings instead of the previous landlord (art. 261 CO; art. 83 CPC). Claims relating to the period up to the transfer of ownership (e.g. retroactive reduction due to defects) are directed against the previous landlord.

Payment of rent

The tenants must pay the rent to the new owner from the transfer of ownership onward.

The previous owner and landlord is entitled to all the rent relating to the period before the transfer of ownership.

Tenants’ claims

According to the case law of the Federal Supreme Court, claims of the tenant against the previous landlord that are already due at the time of the transfer of ownership do not pass to the new landlord (BGE 127 III 273).

Remedy of defects

The new owner must keep the leased property in a condition fit for use (Art. 256 para. 1 CO). Claims of the tenants for the removal of defects are directed against the new owner as of the transfer of ownership.

Rent reduction

If a tenant has applied to the old landlord for a reduction of the rent before the transfer of ownership, this application is transferred to the acquirer. The tenant does not need to submit a new request.

Rent deposit

If a tenant has not yet paid the agreed deposit, the new owner may demand payment of the deposit.

Deposits already paid should be deposited in accounts in the tenants’ names.

Rent increase

The new owner may increase the rent within the limits of the law. According to case law, the new owner may invoke the absolute method for rent increases (e.g. adjustment to local and neighbourhood standards).

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