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Their biggest concern, however, is that the implementation of this law will cause a total halt to the construction of second homes for decades to come. Moreover, the ancient buildings in the various villages will no longer have funds for renovation. And most of all, local families will see their heritage losing all its value.

new regulations. Some of the exceptions under discussion are that: • existing second homes may be sold as such • areas in need of greater development may be exempted • properties rented out for longer than a certain number of weeks may also be exempted.

What is a second home? According to informed opinion in the press (such as Zurich’s NZZ), there is as yet no precise definition of “second home”. Should it, for example, include student accommodation or holiday apartments rented out on a temporary basis? It is estimated there are some half-a-million second homes in Switzerland, or 12% of total housing. Many Swiss owners use their second homes as weekend “getaways”. An expert group has been set up at federal level to define exceptions to the

The implications Rumours have been flying about on what the implementation of the “Lex Franz Weber” will really mean. Switzerland’s rules for foreigners wishing to buy vacation homes have always been stringent. Limits on number of sales vary according to canton, some much stricter than others. The new measure, however, will affect residents and non-residents alike. One view is that developers will negotiate with the government for the continued creation of “hot beds”. These are

apartments sold as investment units but primarily used for rental, thus ensuring that the property spends most of the year occupied rather than standing empty.


The restrictions will not affect the development of primary housing, nor any construction that has already been approved. Will halting the building of new second homes really come into effect as soon as 1 January 2013? The debate continues. Caroline Thonger lived for 30 years in Stratford-uponAvon, UK, where she co-founded the Writers’ Festival. Her first biography “The Banker’s Daughter” was published in 2007. Working as a freelance translator, journalist and editor, she now lives in the Haut Valais.

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Hello Switzerland for Expatriates, Summer Edition 2012  

Hello Switzerland is written by expats for expats living in Switzerland. Designed mainly for English speakers, the magazine contains feature...