Unpleasant smell in the apartment. What’s next?

An unpleasant odor in the apartment can significantly affect the well-being. Whether it’s a musty smell, a strong cooking odor, or even the smell of mold, it’s important to take appropriate steps to correct the problem. In addition to practical measures, there are also legal options available to tenants in Switzerland to find a solution.

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Seeking conflict resolution: direct dialog with the landlord

In order to find a constructive solution, it is advisable to seek direct dialog with the landlord. Misunderstandings or lack of knowledge about the extent of the problem can be clarified in this way. The tenant should politely but firmly inform the landlord about the problem and ask for a joint solution.

Notice of Defects and Obligations of the Landlord to Take Action Pursuant to Articles 257g and 259 OR

According to Article 257g of the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR), the tenant is obliged to inform the landlord about defects and damages in the apartment. This also includes unpleasant odors. The tenant should therefore inform the landlord in writing about the odor problem, describing the odor in detail (Article 257g CO). The landlord is generally obligated to take reasonable steps to correct the problem. However, the tenant must compensate for defects caused by small, for the ordinary un-.
The cleaning or repair work required for the maintenance of the
can be removed at their own expense in accordance with local custom (Article 259 CO).

Rent reduction pursuant to Article 259a OR: An option in the event of significant impairment of the quality of housing

If the landlord fails to act or if the measures are not sufficient, the tenant may apply for a rent reduction in accordance with Article 259a of the Swiss Code of Obligations. This is justified if the odor significantly reduces the quality of living. The exact amount of rent reduction depends on the severity of the odor problem and should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.

Termination without notice for cause pursuant to Article 266g OR: If the odor endangers health or makes the apartment uninhabitable

Under very unlikely circumstances, the tenant may consider termination without notice for cause pursuant to Article 266g CO. This is justified if the odor endangers the health of the tenant or makes the apartment uninhabitable. However, such termination should be well considered and, if necessary, coordinated with legal advice.

Claims for damages pursuant to Article 97 OR and Article 259a OR: In the event of fault on the part of the landlord

If the odor is due to the landlord’s fault, the tenant may claim damages in accordance with Article 97 of the Swiss Code of Obligations. This could be the case if the landlord knew about a mold problem but did not respond appropriately. Legal advice is recommended to check the prospects of success and possible claims under Swiss tenancy law.


Closing words

It is important to note that each case must be considered individually and the legal options mentioned depend on various factors. In most cases, communication with the landlord is the first step in addressing the odor problem and finding a mutual solution. If this does not lead to the desired result, the above-mentioned legal steps under Swiss tenancy law, in particular the relevant articles of the Code of Obligations, may be considered in order to enforce the right to an adequate and odor-free dwelling.

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