FAQ I need housing

We encourage everybody to proactively start searching for an accommodation as soon as possible.

Some of the housing options are strictly reserved for specific EPFL statuses. It is therefore important to know your (exact) EPFL status before starting your house search.

You can find the list of statuses and the housing options at your discretion on our website.

In case of doubt, please know that your status is mentioned on your admission letter, invitation letter, or on your EPFL work contract.

Access to the database is strictly reserved for EPFL students and PhD students who have received a GASPAR account (see FAQ “What’s a GASPAR account?”).

You will not have access with another status (intern, visitor, post-doc, staff, etc).

It is possible, however, to ask for the list of ads of apartments for rent by sending an e-mail request to [email protected]. Please refer to the procedure on the UNIL-EPFL housing database page on our website.

This list is also available on the EPFL secretaries’ blog.

For more information, please visit apartment-sharing

We can give you a few leads on places you can stay in while waiting to find a permanent housing option.

Please visit our short term rental offers page.

Page under construction. Thank you for your understanding.

Page under construction. Thank you for your understanding.

1. Do not rush into real estate agencies in order to apply for an apartment or a studio. The housing market has been very closed in the Lausanne area for years and it is very hard to get a place through them during the start of a new academic year. This is especially true for foreigners who will have to have many guarantees, among which a Swiss guarantor.

2. If you are interested in an ad, do not go visiting without prior discussion with the real estate agency on the conditions for renting the apartment (hire of foreigners without a Swiss guarantor accepted or not, the amount of the requested rental guarantee, etc.). Please note that the real estate agencies renting unfurnished apartments will not take into consideration the applications from people who have not visited the apartment. This option is therefore dedicated to people already in Switzerland.

3. If you meet the rental conditions:

  • Visit as soon as possible
  • If you are interested in the accommodation, fill in the rental application of the agency (given either by the person who makes you visit the place or available on the agency’s website)

Provide a complete file, namely:

  • Copy of the ID (of all people who will be staying in the apartment as well as the guarantor’s if there is one)
  • Certification of the debt collection office of all people signing the lease (including guarantor); to be withdrawn from your present municipality of residence (only for people having lived in Switzerland for more than 3 months)
  • Copy of the last 3 salary slips of the person who will sign the lease (including guarantor) (copy of tax notice for independent professionals).

If relevant :

  • Attestation of studies at EPFL
  • A letter of certification from the Swiss guarantor dated and signed confirming that he/she agrees to be your guarantor.

4. Remember to be patient as the response time of the real estate agencies may take up to several weeks.

If you get an apartment:

5. Plan to pay the first month’s rent prior to the beginning of the rental, but after the lease signature.

6. Provide a rental guarantee of up to 1 to 3 months net rent.

7. Contact a household and a third party liability insurance if necessary.

More information on our page dedicated to furnished and unfurnished offers

DO NOT wait for your admission at EPFL to register with a student hall !

DO NOT miss the registration dates! Some of the student halls only open their registrations for a very short period (1 to 5 days) and if you haven’t registered on time, you will not be able to do it before the following semester.

Also search through the UNIL-EPFL housing database.

It is important to communicate with the private landlords and to agree on terms of cancellation/termination of the lease before signing it. You will then be aware of the exact conditions of the contract in which you will commit.

You are a prospective student at EPFL, you do not reside in the Lausanne area and you are surprised to receive no response from advertisers whom you send requests to? This happens every year in the pre-academic period and by experience we know that the main reasons are:

  • Advertisers publish their housing offers just before leaving on vacation and read their emails upon their return.
  • Advertisers receive a lot of requests and reply only to those that match their criteria.
  • When you are not in Switzerland, advertisers know that you cannot come visit the apartment and they cannot meet you before making their decision. This criteria could be a roadblock for prospective students who are abroad, and it is much easier to find a place once you are in Lausanne and available to visit places and meet landlords.
  • Advertisers forget to withdraw their ads when their room / apartment is already rented. Know that without action on their part, their ad will automatically be deleted after 30 days from the original date of publication.

To terminate a lease legally, you must:

  1. Verify the conditions for terminating the lease.
  2. If nothing is mentioned in writing, obtain verbal agreement with your landlord (if possible at the outset of the rental period). Please note that a lease cancellation is subject to the lease rights.
  3. Send your termination letter by registered mail (recommandée) within the required time period (usually three months notice is required but for a room landlords often ask one month notice).

When a lease is terminated early, or if the renter does not give the required advance notice, the landlord has the right to ask the renter to find an acceptable replacement to take over the lease at the same conditions. This is a completely reasonable and common request.

If you terminate a fix term lease, you will be responsible to find a new acceptable replacement to take over the lease at the same conditions; i.e until the end of your fix term lease (if your lease’s termination date is the 30th September 2017, the new tenant will only be able to take over it until the 30th September 2017).

For more information:

Lease termination

Geneva Welcome Center website

Apartment leave, all you need to know (only in French)

In the Vaud canton, the number of rooms in an apartment corresponds to the number of bedrooms + living room. This means that a 3 room apartment will have 2 bedrooms and a sitting room.

In the canton of Geneva, the kitchen is counted as a room. Therefore a 3 room apartment will have 1 bedroom, 1 sitting room and a kitchen.

The half rooms (3,5) correspond to a big corridor or an open space which is not a room as such.

We advise everyone to sign a lease agreement to formalize the terms of the lease. The important points to mention in this contract are:

  • Beginning and end dates of the lease
  • Renewal or non-renewal terms of the contract
  • The rent with or without utilities
  • If they are not included in the rent, specify exactly what the utilities are going to be
  • All related costs to be paid by the student
  • Rental guarantee requested and specify that it will be refunded at the departure of the tenant if all rents were paid and no damage was found in the housing
  • Any special clause of the use of the accommodation (possibility to include a house rule)
  • In case of a sub-lease, make sure the owner/real estate agency has given authorization for the subrental.
  • A landlord has legal obligations to the tenant. You can check with the Chambre Vaudoise Immobilière (owners association) to obtain the required official documents to be transferred to a tenant at the start of the rental.

We offer the following two sub-leases examples for a furnished room or apartment.

Thus, the various clauses of the contract will be known from the beginning of the rental and by both parties (tenant and landlord).

Please be aware that a lease is only official in Switzerland when it is in French, German, or Italian. An English lease has no legal value in our country as it is not a national language.

Example sub-lease furnished room (Word)
Example sub-lease furnished studio (Word)
Sample Contract (ASLOCA) (PDF, only in French)

For more information on rental Rules and Common practices of the canton of Vaud

In the apartment ads on the UNIL-EPFL housing database, the contact persons are mainly the current tenants of the place who wish to leave before the legal end of their lease.

In Switzerland, if you wish to leave your apartment outside the notice time and before the end of your lease, it is your responsibility to organize visits of your place in order to find a suitable applicant who will take over your lease at the conditions the agency asks.

The person who publishes the ad is therefore not the person who will decide whether you will be the next tenant or not.

In the “rooms” category of ads, the contact persons are mainly individuals offering a room inside their house or apartment for rent to a student. It can also be from students looking for roommates in their apartment.

This distinction is not really relevant to you.

Indeed, advertisers publish their offers themselves and choose one of two options randomly and it is not necessarily representative of their offer.

It is therefore preferable to refer to the text of the ad or request additional information directly from the advertiser.

However, an “independent” room may correspond to a room with a separate entrance or with a private bathroom.

It seems that frauds are becoming more inventive and subtle. So far, fraud attempts were mainly for apartments, but lately more and more scams are for rooms.

Beware of offers that seem too interesting and if possible, visit the accommodation before booking or pay a deposit.

For more information: Warnings regarding scams

You’ll find external links on the Help on legal questions page.

The GASPAR account gives you secured personal access to EPFL’s computer systems, via a username and password.

More information on rental guarantee

A Swiss guarantor is a person living in Switzerland who signs a contract guaranteeing the good payment status of the rents. If rent is unpaid, the landlord or renting agency will demand payment of nonpaid rent from this individual.

For more information, please visit Swiss guarantor.

If you cause harm to a third party, you are responsible and expected to pay compensation. Personal liability insurance (RC) covers the financial consequences of the harm you cause. It also defends you against unjustified claims against you.

For more information, please visit: Insurances

Any person or company in the Canton of Vaud is required to take out insurance with the Cantonal Insurance Agency (ECA) to cover loss from fire and natural disasters.

Newcomers who have coverage provided by a company with offices in Switzerland can keep their contracts until they expire, up to five years after their personal effects enter the canton. Regardless, we recommend everyone make contact with the ECA upon arrival in the canton.

For more information, check Insurances

You will find all the information regarding the tourist tax on the student affairs’ website.

EPFL does not allow specific grants for housing. For more information regarding grants, please read the dedicate page of the Student affairs.

Your EPFL status is mentioned on your admission letter, invitation letter, or on your EPFL work contract.

We have listed our main missions and key services on our contact page.