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I am looking for apartments to rent in Switzerland and I came across a bank operation that is rather new to me. In order to put down the security deposit, I would have to do the following:

  1. Fill in a form with my personal data alongside my landlords' (form given by my landlord).
  2. The bank opens a new account "in my name" where I would deposit the money.
  3. At the end of the rent contract I would receive this money back.

I've never heard of such operation, usually the apartments I've rented (elsewhere in Europe) I would just deposit the money in a given account. Why is this being made? Could this be a scam somehow?

I should mention I'm young, not Swiss, and moving from abroad into Switzerland, which could make me a potential target for a scam.

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    Is there a name or title of the contract? For example if the contract is called an "auslander konto verstandung" that may help find translations or norms that help. expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/switzerland may also be a good place to search or cross post the question.
    – Freiheit
    Mar 7 at 14:40
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    The rare "is this a scam?" question where the correct answer is no! Mar 8 at 13:14
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    What's the opposite of "scam"?
    – DonQuiKong
    Mar 8 at 22:07
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    @DonQuiKong: "bona fide"
    – Ben Voigt
    Mar 8 at 22:10
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    to be noted that the same is done in Germany
    – Federico
    Mar 9 at 11:33

4 Answers 4

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This is normal for Switzerland, it's called "Rental surety savings account" or "Rental Deposit Savings Account" and banks invest a lot to automate opening and closing such accounts, as it's a mass business.

There are also some providers who offer an insurance with an annual fee if you don't have the lump sum, see rental-guarantee-comparison.

The account is in your name but the money is locked until the landlord releases it. The money could go towards paying rent owed or paying for repairs if you damage the property beyond normal usage.

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    A pretty good precaution against landlords trying to keep the security deposit by "forgetting" that they didn't pay it back yet.
    – Philipp
    Mar 8 at 13:09
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    It's also worth mentioning that the money is locked for landlord as well - they can't use it without release (until your lease is up) either. Because of that you should strongly prefer to choose landlords who follow this scheme.
    – Mavrik
    Mar 8 at 13:16
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    Just a small reminder about a common misconception I've heard: the deposit guarantee insurance is for the landlord; if you misses rent or causes undue damages, the insurance will pay the landlord and come after you in turn. To protect yourself (for accidental damages) you would need the civil liability insurance. And the landlord does not have to accept insurance in lieu of deposit account, and sometimes they only accept specific companies. They must accept a deposit account as a mean of guarantee.
    – xngtng
    Mar 8 at 14:00
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    But make sure that the application is actually for this special type of account, and not for an ordinary ("current" account) giving the scammer-posing-as-landlord withdrawal rights, since they could overdraw the account leaving you liable for the overdraft and fees.
    – Ben Voigt
    Mar 8 at 22:13
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    This is similar to (though not exactly the same as) an escrow account. Mar 9 at 16:50
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I know that in Germany similar things exist - the main idea is that the money is still under your name, and only blocked by the landlord during your rental. As a consequence, the landlord cannot simply access the money and spend it for personal use - and at the end of the rental, when you find out, you'd have to sue after him to get it back from a foreclosure or worse.
I cannot confirm for sure that this is 'normal' in Switzerland, I simply don't know. But it is normal in Germany, and it seems to make sense.

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  • yes, I had the same in Germany too.
    – Thomas
    Mar 10 at 21:45
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I can't speak for Switzerland but there is a "bond escrow" for tenants in New Zealand where your security deposit is held, and only released afterward back to the renter, or to the landlord if there's proven damage.

The money is held by a government department named Tenancy Services. Further details https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/rent-bond-and-bills/bond/

So this is not implausible, but you're right to check because it is possible some malicious actor is duplicating a similar service. Keep checking locally.

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    We have this in Australian states as well. There were too many cases of long term residents having to pay a bond every time the property changed hands and then being denied the return of these multiple bonds at the end of their occupancy.
    – mckenzm
    Mar 9 at 18:14
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This exists in Belgium, too. I am only fluent enough in the Flemish part of how it works, but it's called "huurwaarborg" (~"rent security/guarantee") and is placed on an account that's on the tenant's name but is blocked from withdrawal and there's some additional legal plumbing that happens from the landlord's side.

This page outlines the conditions (lower down, screoll to "huurwaarborg" if the link does not do it for you:)

De huurder stort een bedrag gelijk aan maximaal 3 maanden huur op een geblokkeerde bankrekening op zijn naam.

The tenant deposits an amount equal to maximum 3 months of rent on a blocked bank account in their name.

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