Exemptions and Refusal

Understand the position of the Cantons with regard to authorisation, exemptions and refusal of property purchase...

There are many circumstances in which the Cantons authorisation may be necessary. This section contains information on when this authorisation is not necessary, and the circumstances under which the Canton may refuse a proposal.

Further Exemptions from Prior Authorisation Requirements

As a general rule, the following are exempted from prior authorisation requirements:

  • the legal heirs, as defined by Swiss law, when acquiring real estate as part of an estate either as sole owners or through division of the estate. The term "legal heirs" encompasses the spouse and all relatives that may possibly qualify as legal heirs
  • relatives in straight line of ascent or descent from the person disposing of the property, as well as his/her spouse and his/her registered partner
  • condominium owners for the exchange of their apartments in the same building/housing development
  • the acquirer obtaining real estate as a real substitute in the course of an expropriation, land amalgamation or re-allotment of land
  • the acquirer obtaining real estate as a compensation for property transferred to a public law corporation or institution
  • the buyer acquiring a small area as a result of a rectification of boundary or, in the case of a condominium, of an increase in the value of property quotas
  • foreign states or international organisations pursuant to public international law in the event they acquire real property for a recognized public purpose or other acquirers, if interests of national policy so command
  • EU and EFTA nationals acquiring a second residence in the area of the place of work in their capacity as borders
  • natural persons who acquire an apartment subsequent to liquidation of a legal entity the actual purpose of which is acquisition of real property and which was created before February 1, 1974, in the event that such persons have acquired shares in the legal entity corresponding to that apartment

Compulsory Reasons for Refusal

A permit, if required (see above for exemptions), is issued if there is no compelling reason for refusal. Such reasons for refusal include the acquirer's attempt to evade the law, the protection of national interests, and the prevention of mere capital investments. Furthermore, the acquisition of a secondary residence by non-cross-border commuters (which requires prior authorization; see above) as well as the acquisition of a holiday home or hotel condominium unit by persons requiring prior authorisation is refused if either the acquirer himself/herself or his/her spouse or his/her registered partner or children under the age of 18 already own such a home in Switzerland.

Information supplied by Dr. Michael A Meer, LL.M., Attorney at Law Gruninger Hunziker AG, Zürich / Bern. Tel: +41 (0) 58 356 5050, e-mail / web: www.ghr.ch Copyright © 2009 GHR Rechtsanwälte AG All Rights Reserved