COVID-19 effect on real estate - Lex Koller: potential temporary ban on foreign investors acquiring commercial real estate in Switzerland ahead!

In mid January 2021, the Legal Affairs Committee of the Swiss National Council passed a committee initiative intending to temporarily suspend the exemption for the acquisition of real estate properties used for commercial purposes which applies under the so-called Lex Koller. The committee initiative aims at preventing Swiss businesses that are under pressure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic from being forced to sell their business premises at prices favorable to foreign acquirers.

Although the initiative has not passed all legislative hurdles yet, it now moves forward, and, if approved and declared urgent, could be passed by the Swiss parliament and come into force within a few months.

While this initiative aims at finding a solution to a legitimate concern, it will, if implemented, impact all transactions involving the sale of real estate properties used for commercial purposes, whether or not they will have a COVID-19 background.