Nov 24, 2023.

If defects occur in your home, from leaky windows to water damage, a defect report is the correct first step. But what are you actually entitled to for which defects, and how do you write a defect report that protects your rights? We have summarised all the important information for you here.


Landlords are generally obliged to maintain their rental properties in a condition that is suitable for the agreed purpose. This suitability is measured using objective criteria. In the case of residential accommodation, this includes a tolerable room temperature and functioning equipment. However, defects can sometimes occur that have a detrimental impact on the property’s suitability for living in, such as water dripping from the ceiling, cold air blowing through closed windows or water not getting hot. You must inform your landlord of these. Read on to find out how to proceed.


What is a defect report?

If you notice a defect in your rented accommodation, you should immediately call the management company and describe the problem. Make a note of the date and time of your call. You are in fact legally obliged to report defects. In addition, reporting defects to your landlord is a prerequisite for your defect-related rights. If the management company fails to take immediate action, you can write a defect report. Read on to find out how to structure such a letter. Ideally, you should send the defect report to your landlord by registered mail and keep the receipt.


Different types of defects

Various housing defects can occur in rented accommodation. From a legal perspective, what can be expected under the given circumstances always plays a role. For example, the usability of an old building with cheap rent is often assessed differently to that of a new-build with higher rent. In addition, tenancy law differs depending on the severity of the defect:

  • Minor defect: If a defect to the rental property can be easily remedied through simple repairs or cleaning, it is considered to be minor. This includes defective door seals, a dripping tap or a blocked drain, for example.
  • Moderate defect: If a defect adversely affects living in the rented accommodation but doesn’t make it intolerable, this is referred to as a moderate defect. This category includes minor water damage, leaky windows (if caused by more than a defective seal) and peeling wallpaper, for example.
  • Serious defect: If it is no longer acceptable to live in the rental property due to a defect, the defect is described as serious. Examples of this include a complete heating failure during winter, severe water damage or harmful mould.


Depending on the type of defect, you have various rights as a tenant. But these always require prompt defect reporting.

Your rights in the event of housing defects

In the case of minor defects that occur during the tenancy, the tenant is obliged to remedy the defect themselves according to Article 259 of the Swiss Code of Obligations. However, this only applies if it can be remedied effortlessly by hand without any specialist skills or knowledge. If the defect is more serious, then you are entitled to have it removed. However, this requires you to have previously submitted a defect report giving notice of the defect. If you fail to report a defect and consequential damage occurs, you will be liable for this. If the landlord fails to remedy the defect immediately, you have various options. For example, you can deposit your rent in a special account. You can obtain information about this from the tenant arbitration authority. You are also entitled to reduce the rent while the defect persists. This also applies retrospectively for up to five years from the date of the defect report. You may also be entitled to compensation. And last but not least, you also have the right to terminate your contract without notice in the event of serious defects.


Writing a defect report

Writing a defect report is actually very easy. You refer to your telephone defect report and list the defects in your home. These include the defects that you would like to be remedied. You should also point out that you reserve the right to take legal action. Always keep a copy of the letter for your records. In our knowledge hub, you will find a defect report template that you can download. All you have to do is add your specific information to this sample defect report letter.


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.