This article provides specific information about local laws that apply to people who host their homes in the Canton of Geneva. Just like our country article for Switzerland, it’s your responsibility to verify and comply with any obligations that apply to you as a host. This article can serve as a starting point or place you can come back to if you have questions but it isn’t exhaustive and it doesn’t constitute legal or tax advice. It’s a good idea to check to make sure laws and procedures are current.
Some of the laws that might affect you are complicated. Contact the Canton of Geneva Department of Planning, Housing and Energy directly or consult a local advisor, such as an attorney or tax professional, if you have questions.
Short-term rental regulations
The Canton of Geneva Department of Planning, Housing and Energy regulates the use of housing, including short-term rentals, through the Demolition, Conversion and Renovation Act and the Regulations for the Demolition, Conversion and Renovation of Residential Houses Act (RDTR), revised on April 1, 2018.
Change of assignment
A change of assignment occurs when the use of a property changes from a residence to a commercial, administrative, craft, or industrial use, regardless of whether or not it’s occupied. This includes when a residential property is replaced by a furnished rental property or hotel, particularly when housing is scarce.
When you host your home through a rental platform, such as Airbnb, it isn’t considered a change of use unless you host for more than 90 nights per year.
The act states that it isn’t considered a change of assignment when a commercial, administrative, handicraft, or industrial property is used for short-term rentals. It also doesn’t require a change when a short-term rental reverts to one of those categories.
The Department of Planning, Housing and Energy can grant an exemption on a case-by-case basis, particularly if the short-term rental activity won’t upset the balance of the neighborhood or the building is already primarily being used for purposes other than housing. Contact the department directly or contact a legal advisor for additional information about whether an exemption might apply to your circumstance.
Tourist tax and tourist promotion tax
Since September 1, 2020, Airbnb automatically collects the cantonal tourist tax from guests when they book via the Airbnb platform and transfers it to the Canton of Geneva on your behalf. Guests will see the tax listed separately on their invoices and added to the total amount they pay.
Digital Transport Card
Whilst paying the tourist tax is compulsory, guests benefit in return from a free digital transport card that allows visitors to use public transport in the Canton of Geneva free of charge for the duration of their stay. As a host, it is your responsibility to give your guests the digital transport card. Before welcoming your first guests, you must register as a host with the Geneva Tourist Office to be able to issue the digital transport card. To do so, you can contact the Tourist Office. For more information on the digital transport card, please visit Canton’s website.