Cost of living For Members

How to find out if you are paying too much rent in Vienna

Emma Midgley
Emma Midgley - [email protected]
How to find out if you are paying too much rent in Vienna
Guests sit in a coffee in front of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria on March 15, 2020. - Austria on March 15, 2020 banned gatherings of more than five people and told residents to go out only if necessary, in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus. Police would enforce new restrictions on public life, the government said, threatening fines for non-compliance. The tougher measures were decided at an extraordinary session of parliament, during which Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called on the population to self-isolate and limit contacts to "the people they live with". (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Experts estimate that 80 percent of renters in old buildings are paying more than they should be in Vienna. Here's how to find out if you're paying too much.

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Vienna’s cheap rents are the envy of many other city dwellers, and many residents looking to rent a property covet one of the capital’s famous high ceilinged Altbau (old buildings).

These are generally defined as buildings dating from before the Second World War. 

As well as looking beautiful, rent laws also mean these older buildings could actually be cheaper to live in as well. 

READ MORE: Austria: Is Vienna really a ‘renter’s paradise’? 

The City of Vienna has a rent calculator which allows you to work out how much rent you should be paying, and to see if you are due a refund. 

The rent control rules apply only to buildings in Vienna smaller than 131m2 built before 1945. Rent control rules differ in each of Austria’s federal states.

Around 80 percent of tenants in Vienna are 'paying too much'

According to estate agent Vana Doranovic of Tristar Immobilien, around 80 percent of renters in these buildings in Vienna are paying too much.

She said: “As an example, supposing you are renting a 120 metre squared apartment in an old building, which has been built before 8th May 1945, it should cost €5.81 per metre squared - that comes to around €697 net per month, excluding VAT and operating costs.”

Mrs Doranovic also said that tenants could pay even less if they had a limited rental contract, or were living on the second floor without an elevator for example. 

So let’s say you have entered your rent into the calculator, and found you have been overpaying your rent for years.

REVEALED: The best districts to live in Vienna


How can you find out?

There are several companies in Vienna which will take on individual cases and try and reduce the rent you pay, which could mean you get your back rent refunded if you have paid too much.

This is even possible after you leave your property. In the last few years there have been reports of these companies going door to door to get business. 

However, the City of Vienna warned about using these businesses in 2018. If you win, they could take a sizeable chunk of the refunded money, from 30 percent of the spoils to even half.

Austria's Der Standard newspaper reported last year that some even claim commission on the rent you will save in the future, if they are successful.

READ MORE: Is Vienna really a ‘renter’s paradise’?

The paper cites Walter Rosifka from the Chamber of Labor, who says he recently received a complaint from a tenant who received €11,000 in overpaid rent - €8,000 of which was collected by the litigation financier. 

However, these companies operate on a 'no win-no fee' basis, which means you will not have to pay anything if the application to reduce the rent is not successful. And if someone from this type of business comes ringing at your door, you can be sure you are probably paying too much rent.

Tenants' association 

Another option is the Mietervereinigung. This is a tenants association which costs around €60 per year for membership in Vienna (it also operates in Austria's other federal states).

Once you are a member you can go to them for help. They will assist you with claiming back your rent if you have been overpaying, and can also help with rental problems such as mould, contracts or painting. 

The third option is to go for tenants to go to the arbitration board themselves. However, Der Standard newspaper warns this is “not easy”.


'Cost of living here is wonderful'

One thing is certain, the rent laws in Vienna mean many people find they can afford a central Altbau apartment they would never be able to rent in other cities. 

One American ex-pat living in Vienna's First District told The Local: "I have lived in several major cities including New York and Amsterdam and the cost of living here is wonderful. What I pay in total here for an apartment in the centre is only a bit more than what I would have been paying for a room in a shared three bedroom Brooklyn apartment.

"I adore Vienna and I am incredibly grateful to be able to live in the centre."


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Viennaman 2023/08/24 09:28
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