Minor maintenance: who pays the bill?

Nov 24, 2023.

Have you received a bill from your landlord for the repair of defects that specifies minor maintenance? Such bills are not always justified. Here, you can find out how tenancy law defines minor maintenance and what you really have to pay. We also show you how to dispute such a bill. 


Possible defects in rental accommodation are divided into three categories: minor defects, medium defects and serious defects. In many cases, the tenant is responsible for minor defects or minor maintenance. In some cases, the landlord has to bear the costs of correcting defects that come under minor maintenance. This can lead to misunderstandings if both sides believe they do not have to bear the costs. Have you received a bill from your landlord that seems unjustified to you? Below, we take a closer look at the concept of minor maintenance and explain who has to pay what. We also show you how to easily reject such a bill from your landlord.


How tenancy law defines minor maintenance

According to Article 259 CO, minor maintenance includes defects that can be remedied by the tenant through minor repair work or cleaning. Tenants are also obliged to carry out such minor cleaning and repair work. However, exactly where the limit for what defines minor maintenance lies in practice is often disputed in individual cases. In the past, it was often common practice to cap minor maintenance charges at a flat rate of less than CHF 150. The tenant was responsible for costs below this figure. However, recent case law considers the repair of small defects in a somewhat more differentiated manner. Accordingly, only repairs that tenants with normal DIY skills can carry out themselves come under minor maintenance. If the work requires skilled workers or specialised tools, the landlord has to pay. Moreover, a multitude of minor defects can add up to a medium defect. The landlord is responsible in this case, too.


Minor defects in rental accommodation – who pays for what?

The question of whether or not a defect falls under the minor maintenance regulation and who, therefore, pays for its repair is often a matter of dispute. To make the tenancy law definition of minor maintenance a little easier to understand, we have listed a few examples for you here.


For example, tenants must, at their own expense:

  • oil squeaky door hinges
  • replace the kitchen extractor filter
  • replace leaking or defective shower hoses
  • replace detached window seals
  • tighten loose screws on door handles or sockets
  • clear clogged water drains in the washbasin or kitchen sink.


The landlord pays when:

  • an electrician repairs a defect in the oven or refrigerator
  • a decorator repapers peeling wallpaper
  • a plumber unblocks the building’s drain pipe
  • a cleaning company uses scaffolding to clean the window shutters from the outside.


The distinction does not depend on whether professional craftsmen were commissioned, but rather on whether specialist knowledge or the use of specialised tools require it. This is the case with many electrical jobs that require trained professionals for safety reasons. Even if parts are replaced that are not available in normal specialist retailers, the landlord has to foot the bill. However, if you hire a specialist company, for example, to have the drain on the sink unblocked, then you have to pay for the work yourself.



If you have received a bill from your landlord for repairing defects that is not justified according to the definition above, you can reject it. Minor maintenance is clearly defined in tenancy law, and case law makes it clear: minor maintenance does not oblige tenants to pay for hired specialists. This applies even if the bill is for less than CHF 150. Therefore, you should inform the landlord in writing that you are disputing the bill and ask them to cancel the bill.


Template: Disputing a bill for minor defects in rental accommodation

With our downloadable template, you can quickly and easily dispute the invoice yourself. Simply enter your personal details and the specifics of the bill in the yellow highlighted fields. You should also briefly describe what the reason for the objection is in your case: does the invoice amount exceed CHF 150, or has a specialist been requested? Then, send in the completed and signed letter by registered mail. You will receive a receipt for this, which you should keep. If the landlord does not respond within two weeks, you can contact the relevant arbitration board and, if necessary, seek legal advice.


Fortuna Legal Protection Insurance – a subsidiary of Generali Switzerland – has been helping customers to access justice for 50 years. During this time, it has grown significantly and now applies the expertise and experience of over 100 employees in 31 branches of law.