Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law updates

Federal Supreme Court decision on building in noise-affected areas
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Switzerland
  • 19 December 2016

Swiss environmental laws provide for certain requirements to allow new building zones and new buildings in areas that are affected by noise. To assess compliance with these requirements, noise measurements are required. In a recent decision, the Federal Supreme Court decided that a widely used method of measurement – so-called 'ventilation-window practice' – is not compatible with legal requirements.

Federal Supreme Court decision on building in noise-affected areas
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 16 December 2016

Swiss environmental laws provide for certain requirements to allow new building zones and new buildings in areas that are affected by noise. To assess compliance with these requirements, noise measurements are required. In a recent decision, the Federal Supreme Court decided that a widely used method of measurement – so-called 'ventilation-window practice' – is not compatible with legal requirements.

New register of public law restrictions on land ownership
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 04 November 2016

The cadastre of public law restrictions on land ownership (PLR cadastre) is being developed by the federal government and the cantons. It is one of the three cornerstones of the Swiss cadastral system, besides the land register and cadastral surveying. Whereas information on private law restrictions can be obtained from the land register, the PLR cadastre provides information about the most important public law restrictions on land ownership.

Federal Supreme Court decision on 'polluter pays' principle and heirs' liability
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Switzerland
  • 25 July 2016

The Federal Supreme Court recently decided on the environmental liability of owners that make their property available to landfill operators in return for financial compensation. The court also held that the cost-bearing duty of the initial property owner did not transfer to the heirs and so they must therefore be released from any cost-bearing duty.

Brexit vote: time to buy Swiss real estate?
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 01 July 2016

Following the United Kingdom's EU referendum, the legal situation of UK citizens – particularly those living in Switzerland – is likely to change in relation to Swiss real estate. Until Brexit takes legal effect, UK citizens with legal and actual Swiss residence may be treated as Swiss residents and thus may acquire Swiss residential properties without restriction. However, this should change once Brexit takes legal effect.

Access to land register information
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 03 June 2016

The Civil Code and the Federal Ordinance on the Land Register govern formal and substantive land register matters, including land register management, access to register information and the legal effect of register entries. Even though land register matters are mainly governed by federal laws, the registers are kept by cantonal authorities. Thus, land register information should be requested from the cantonal authority at the place of the concerned property.

Key environmental legislation in effect and in the pipeline
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Switzerland
  • 21 March 2016

Various amendments to Swiss environmental statutes and ordinances came into effect in 2015 or will come into effect in 2016. These new measures include certain amendments to the Ordinance on Air Pollution Control to reflect technical improvements and amendments to the Ordinance on the Reduction of Risks Relating to the Use of Certain Particularly Dangerous Substances, Preparations and Articles to align Swiss laws with international regulations.

Recent jurisprudence on construction activities in aquatic areas
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Switzerland
  • 07 December 2015

The Federal Supreme Court recently decided three cases concerning the undertaking of construction activities in aquatic areas, which is limited by federal water protection laws and allowed only in exceptional cases. While only fixed installations that serve the public interest may be built in such areas, the authorities may authorise exceptions in certain circumstances.

Non-Swiss residents can own several holiday homes in exceptional cases
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 13 November 2015

A non-Swiss resident inherited one Swiss holiday home and already owned another. The question arose of whether he had to sell one of the properties due to restrictions on the acquisition of Swiss real estate by non-Swiss residents. The Federal Supreme Court confirmed that the rule that non-Swiss residents may acquire only one holiday home does not apply to legal heirs.

Federal Supreme Court decision on subsidies to remediate polluted sites
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Switzerland
  • 03 August 2015

The Federal Supreme Court recently decided on whether a canton is entitled to federal subsidies for remediation measures in connection with a project on a site that, without the building project, would not be in need of remediation. The court held that there is no legal ground obliging the confederation to subsidise remediation on sites that do not generally need it and that require remediation due only to a particular construction project.

Parliament adopts new federal rules on second homes
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 24 July 2015

In March 2015 Parliament adopted the Federal Act on Second Homes, which is expected to enter into force in early 2016 and will govern the final implementation of the new rule restricting second homes. The relevant constitutional provision states that no more than 20% of the total number of residential units and of the gross residential floor area in any municipality may be used as second homes.

Federal Supreme Court decision on standing to challenge lease termination
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 17 April 2015

The Federal Supreme Court recently considered whether a co-tenant had standing to challenge wrongful termination of a lease contract on her own. It stated that a lease contract cannot be terminated for one co-tenant only; therefore, all parties concerned must participate in an action challenging the lease termination. However, this does not mean that all co-tenants must be on the same side of the bar.

Federal Supreme Court decision on lease termination during blocking period
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 10 April 2015

The Federal Supreme Court recently had to decide for the first time whether challenging the termination of a lease during conciliation or court proceedings requires the landlord's knowledge of the pending proceedings. It concluded that protection against untimely termination applies from the start of the proceedings until a final decision is rendered, irrespective of when the landlord becomes aware of proceedings.

Federal Supreme Court decision on lease termination for late payments
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 02 April 2015

The Code of Obligations provides that where a tenant is in arrears with rent or charges, the landlord may set a time limit for payment and notify the tenant that in the event of non-payment, it will terminate the lease. The Federal Supreme Court recently confirmed that this provision must be applied strictly, as its purpose is to ensure that landlords are paid on time and leases are terminated in case of late payment.

Federal Supreme Court decision on non-use of official form for new leases
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 27 March 2015

In the event of a housing shortage, the cantons may make it obligatory for a landlord to use an official cantonal form when contracting a new lease which indicates the rent paid by the previous tenant. The Federal Supreme Court recently confirmed that failure to use the form does not lead to the nullity of a lease contract as a whole, but only to the nullity of the rent fixed in the lease.

Key legislation in effect and in the pipeline
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Switzerland
  • 09 February 2015

The Federal Council recently enacted amendments to the Environmental Protection Act, the Waters Protection Act and the Gene Technology Act. The amendments relate to the ratification of the Aarhus Convention. Amendments to the Carbon Dioxide Ordinance and the Energy Ordinance have also entered into force, with amendments expected to the Ordinance on the Remediation of Polluted Sites and the Major Accident Ordinance.

Regulations on genetic engineering
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Switzerland
  • 08 December 2014

Swiss agriculture is free of genetic engineering, with a moratorium banning genetically modified plants and seeds and banning animals from being imported and placed on the Swiss market. The main rules on genetic engineering concern agricultural products, foodstuffs, industrial activities and research and international commerce.

Federal Supreme Court decision on rural land rights
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 28 November 2014

Certain restrictions and approval requirements apply to agricultural businesses and agricultural land, and the sale of such businesses or land requires approval. The Federal Supreme Court recently held that a leaseholder's pre-emptive right is subject to the main asset test and requires that a majority of shares be transferred.

Polluted sites – federal Environmental Protection Act amended
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Switzerland
  • 11 August 2014

Pursuant to a recent amendment to the federal Environmental Protection Act, polluters may be required to provide appropriate security for the costs of cleaning up a contaminated site. The new approval requirement for the sale or parcelling of a contaminated site can considerably delay a transaction. It is therefore advisable to check the Register of Contaminated Sites and to involve the competent authority in good time.

Latest developments in foreign real property investments
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 11 July 2014

Foreign investment in Swiss real estate is governed by a federal law known as the 'Lex Koller'. The government recently announced a revision of the Lex Koller in order to address certain enforcement problems and loopholes. A popular initiative may follow to tighten the regime, but it would take several years before such changes to the law were legally effective.

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