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The words you need to know before renting a flat in Austria

From smaller towns to the Viennese suburbs, renting in Austria ain’t easy. While we can’t find you a flat, we hope to take some of the confusion out of doing so.

The words you need to know before renting a flat in Austria
Photo: Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

Whether you speak German or not, getting your head around the complex words used in renting in Austria. 

(Der) Mieter

Meaning tenant or renter, Mieter comes from the German miete which means to rent. 

Vermieter means landlord – although the latter is frequently used in super-hip Berlin and Hamburg. 

READ MORE: The hidden costs of buying a home in Austria

(Der) Mietvertrag 

The German word for lease, Mietvertrag – literally rent contract – is the document between you and your landlord which allows you to live in the flat. 

As we discussed in our report on the Anmeldung (address registration) process, you’ll need to show this at the Bürgeramt to receive your Meldebescheinigung (certificate of registered address).  

(Der) Altbau and Neubau

When moving into an apartment block, you’ll frequently be told whether your potential flat-to-be is an Altbau (old building) or a Neubau (new building).

This can however be confusing, as the highly sought after Altbau can frequently look much newer and nicer than the Neubau, the latter of which can often be found at the outskirts of larger towns and cities. 

Buildings from before the Second World War are known as Altbau, whereas those made afterwards are known as Neubau

(Die) Kaution

Meaning either bond or deposit, Kaution is the money paid as a security deposit when you move into a flat to provide the landlord with a degree of protection should you fail to pay the rent or if the flat is damaged. 

Foreigners are frequently targeted with Kaution scams, so be sure to discuss the nature of your Kaution and how it will be returned when moving into a flat. 

(Das) Casting

Right out of the same category as ‘Handy’, ‘Public-Viewing’ and ‘Beamer’, Casting is an English word which has taken on a different and somewhat odd use in German. 

While ‘casting’ in English means the process of auditioning for a part in a movie or play, ‘Casting’ in German is the process of interviewing a new flatmate. 

Although it will not always be the case, a Casting can be structured much like a job interview – with each of the existing housemates asking a variety of questions to determine if you’re truly worthy. 

(Die) Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung 

Literally translating as rent-debt-freedom-certificate, the Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung is a document which confirms you are not in rental debt for any of your previous properties. 

While the word is an absolute mouthful – try saying ‘meat-shool-den-fry-height-b-shine-ee-goong’ out loud – this document is an absolute must when renting a flat. 

Remember that the German word for debt (Schuld) also means guilt – so anyone hoping to rent a flat will need to prove that they are debt free. 

(Die) Verdienstbescheinigung

Another Bescheinigung, the Verdienstbescheinigung is a document from your employer which shows your earnings.

Given the highly competitive property market, you’ll want to have this document on hand for when you first see – and decide to apply for – the property. 

(Die) Nebenkosten, (Die) Warmmiete and (Die) Kaltmiete

Nebenkosten, which are otherwise known as Betriebskosten, means all the extra costs associated with the apartment other than the rent. These include water, gas, internet, heating, electricity and insurance costs. 

When renting a flat, the advertised price will either be Kaltmiete (cold rent) or Warmmiete (warm rent). A Kaltmiete price will only be the price for the rent itself, while Warmmiete will be the price including the Nebenkosten

Flats will often be advertised as “€600 Warmmiete/WM/Warm” or “€550 Kaltmiete/Kalt/KM”. 

(Die) Wohngemeinschaft

More commonly known as a ‘W-G’ (pronounced ‘vey-gay’), Wohngemeinschaft is the German name for a share house. The word literally translates to ‘residential community’. 

WGs are common in Austria for students and adults alike, given that the country’s unique and sometimes complicated Altbau architecture can create share houses with a significant amount of privacy and independence. 

(Der) Mitbewohner

If you live in a WG, you’re likely to have one or more Mitbewohner. Translating literally as ‘with-occupant’, Mitbewohner means housemate or flatmate.

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COST OF LIVING

Reader question: I’ve received my Austrian Klimabonus as a voucher, now what?

Austria's federal government is sending out €500 payments directly to the bank accounts of millions of people, but many have been getting vouchers. Here's what to do with them.

Reader question: I've received my Austrian Klimabonus as a voucher, now what?

With rising inflation, mainly due to the increasing energy costs, people in Austria have seen their salaries purchasing less and less. Because of that, the federal government announced a €6 billion package with assistance, tax cuts and one-off payments.

The main (and somewhat controversial) payment is the so-called “climate bonus and anti-inflation payment”, better known as Klimabonus in Austria. Residents of the country will receive €500 to help cushion the effects of climbing prices. Minors are entitled to half that amount.

The only criterium is that the recipient must have lived in Austria for at least 181 days in 2022 to be eligible for the payment. It doesn’t matter your nationality or employment status – if you have spent six months legally in 2022 in the country, you will get the money.

READ ALSO: When will Austria make the €500 anti-inflation payment and how do I get it?

Money vs voucher

The main difference between recipients is that some will receive the money automatically in their bank accounts and others will get a mailed voucher.

If your bank data is up to date with Austria’s financial institution FinanzAMT on their FinanzOnline portal, you should receive the payment straight to your account. If not, they will mail you the Klimabonus voucher via a secure letter – meaning you need to be at home to sign for it.

READ ALSO: How could Austria’s new electricity price brake benefit you?

There is also an option to have someone else sign the letter for you via a power of attorney form. You can read more about it here.

Once the voucher arrives and you sign for it, you need to redeem it. After that, it’s possible to use them in hundreds of locations, including supermarkets, bookshops and bookshops to thousands of stores.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

You can check the nearest location that will accept your vouchers here.

Additionally, you can trade your vouchers (they come as ten €50 vouchers) for cash on the official Bank99, which is the bank owned by the Austrian Post and that can be found in hundreds of the Postal Service’s branches.

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