Swiss man evicted to make room for refugees despite living in home for 15 years

The local authority claims its hands are tied in order to comply with federal refugee distribution quotas

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Thomas Brooke
The 47-year-old male has lived in his apartment for over 15 years.

A Swiss man living in social housing in the village of Seegräben has been ordered to vacate his apartment in order to make way for asylum seekers.

The 47-year-old man received a letter from local authorities explaining they had been unable to find any alternative accommodation for the newcomers and were obliged to house a certain number of asylum seekers in line with national refugee quotas.

As such, the man is now expected to vacate the apartment he has lived in for over 15 years and find alternative housing in just three months.

The unnamed 47-year-old handed the letter he had received from the local authorities to the Swiss newspaper, 20 Minutes, which read:

As explained in today’s personal conversation, you will receive the notice of termination of the tenancy of the 5.5-room apartment as of May 31, 2023. As seem on the official form attached the municipality of Seegräben is obliged to take in and house asylum seekers and refugees.

Due to the high migration numbers, the municipalities were instructed by the canton to provide living space in order to be able to accommodate additional people seeking protection. Despite an intensive search in recent weeks, no suitable apartments can currently be found on the open market. The very scarce housing supply in our community has therefore persuaded the municipal council to seize the community-owned apartment for this purpose in the future.

We regret that we could not find another solution and hope that you will find a new one quickly. if you find a new apartment before the end of the notice period, you can end the tenancy earlier on any month-end.

We hope that despite the unpleasant situation you are in, the rental agreement can be concluded with mutual respect and decency.

Speaking to Swiss media, the resident said: “I am incredibly sad. I have lived here for over 15 years. My children grew up in this apartment.”

He explained that he “would never have expected” to be ousted from his home to make way for refugees.

“I am scared. I don’t think that in the next three months I will find another affordable accommodation in the region that can accommodate myself, my children who visit me every two weeks, and my pets,” he added.

The local mayor, Marco Pezzatti, was questioned about the incident by Swiss broadcaster SRF and insisted the move was in order to comply with clear federal regulations. He explained the village was required to accommodate a number of asylum seekers equal to 0.9 percent of its community.

“In our community, that’s about 13 people,” he told the broadcaster, adding that to date only nine refugees had been found homes in the area.

“We placed numerous advertisements, wrote to private real estate companies and spoke to private individuals,” Pezzatti explained, but they were unable to secure alternative accommodation, which led to the eviction notice. “We very much regret this step,” he added.

The case mirrors a similar approach taken in neighboring Germany earlier this month, where residents in the town of Lörrach received similar notices, as their apartments are “particularly suitable” for Ukrainian refugees.

“This letter, for me, it’s an early death notice,” said 78-year-old Lorrach resident Klaus Kichling, who is already facing serious health issues after a recent stroke.

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