ACCOMMODATION SEARCH TIPS
IUG strongly recommends that if accommodation is available through its Student Housing Services, students should take up the offer due to the extremely tight housing market in the Geneva region and the unfortunate increase in the number of ‘scam artists’ taking advantage of those seeking accommodation; especially foreign students searching from overseas.
For students not wanting to be accommodated or are unable to be accommodated in IUG student housing, please consider the following when searching for housing in the Geneva region:
1: Always go through official Régies:
Each régie will only accept one application at a time, and they have no obligation to get back to you in a certain time frame. Even if you are the only person applying or friends with the current renter, plan for the approval process can take months. Once you sign for the flat/house you will be asked to create a bail account at a Swiss bank where you will deposit 3 to 4 months rent in a trust account. Neither you nor the régie can access this money until you both sign off on it after you have moved out. Rental insurance is required by law. You will need as well to prove that you are legally staying in Switzerland for an extended period of time. For this the IUG student service will help you to apply for your student resident permit once you arrive in Geneva. Some régies require a guarantor. Guarantor is someone who legally lives in Switzerland, someone who is in possession of a legal Swiss resident permit. The régie will do a "walk through" at the start and end of your lease. Make sure they note any and all flaws in the apartment no matter how small, or you will be charged for them when you move out. Dealing directly with these agencies, whether you are a fluent French speaker or not, can be very time consuming and frustrating. If you can afford it, it is worth hiring someone to help with the communication and paperwork.
2: ‘Too Good to be True’ Advertisements:
Advertisements for flats/apartments with 200sqm marble floors overlooking lake Geneva for a cheap price should raise a red flag. If there is a picture attached to the advertisement, the chances are it is not real. Use Google Earth & Google Maps to check out the address mentioned and its authenticity. Also, you can check with your consulate in Switzerland for further advice on living in the country.
3: Advance Payments
Never give credit card details over the phone or via email for accommodation payment purposes to unknown third parties.
AVOID MAKING ANY ADVANCE PAYMENTS BEFORE YOU HAVE SEEN THE PROPERTY.
If you receive the following message it is likely to be a scam: I can only accept money via Western Union money transfer, however I can provide you with a shipment tracking number. This is just a way to make potential victims feel safe before sending their money; the tracking/reference number is usually fake, yet it appears to be real. If you visit the Western Union website, it clearly states Western Union is NOT to be used for sending money to people you do not know.
In addition to the information provided above, here are some further useful websites to help search for accommodation in Geneva through official Régies and also useful forums regarding scams and how to best avoid them:
Official Régies Websites: