RentsTenancy Law

Tenancy law: The tenant of my apartment does not pay his rent. How do I do it?

Are you dealing with a dishonest tenant? Here are the steps you must take as a landlord!

The tenant is violating one of his legal obligations, which is to pay the rent. You can therefore start legal proceedings against him/her.

You have two options: prosecution and immediate termination. It is quite possible to do both.

  1. Prosecution

The lawsuit considers the arrears (the overdue rent) as a debt. 

The landlord sends a warning, known as a “formal notice” to the tenant to demand payment of the rent due. This must be a registered letter, in which a deadline for payment is set.

Once the deadline has expired, the landlord (the creditor) can file a requisition for legal action with the Office Cantonal des Poursuites (Cantonal Office of Legal Proceedings). This will start the legal proceedings.

The Office will then send a summons to pay to your tenant, demanding repayment of the claim within 20 days. If the debtor contests the debt within 10 days of receiving the summons to pay, he or she may oppose it. Read this article to learn more!

In case of opposition, it will be up to the landlord to relaunch the lawsuit. If the repayment does not arrive, the tenant’s property will be seized as a last resort.


  1. Immediate (or early) termination

Non-payment of rent is a valid reason for the immediate termination of the tenant’s lease. 

To do so, the management must have sent a formal notice to the tenant, asking him to pay the rent and threatening him with early termination for just cause. A repayment period of at least 30 days (or more if the contract so states) must be mentioned in the letter, always by registered mail, it can never be said enough. 

If the refund is not made, the lease will be terminated with 30 days notice, using an official form provided by the cantonal authorities and available online. 


So here’s what you can do if your tenant doesn’t pay the rent! In order to avoid long, costly and unpleasant legal proceedings for both parties, we recommend that you let a lawyer draw up the notices and represent you. Indeed, the threat of a lawyer has very persuasive virtues! Try to settle this conflict amicably, it will always be more beneficial!

Please note that you cannot demand sums considered “insignificant” from your tenant, even if he has not paid them. 

Finally, it is important to be an understanding tenant. One month’s delay has no serious consequences, especially for a model tenant. Maybe other problems have happened; give priority to calm and dialogue. 

Lawrence answers all your questions and assists you in your legal proceedings !

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