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PROPERTY

Property in Austria: Building boom continues and businesses head back to Vienna offices

Stay up-to-date on the latest Austrian property news with The Local's weekly roundup.

Vienna, Austria where workers are returning to offices.
Vienna, Austria where workers are returning to offices. Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash

Thinking of buying a house, moving house or investing? Or are you just curious about the property market in Austria? 

Here’s what you need to know.

Optimism in the office rental market in Vienna

In the third quarter of this year (July to September), the office rental market in Vienna was up by 92 percent when compared to the second quarter of 2021.

This is encouraging for the property market in the capital, even though the figures are still 67 percent less than during the same period in 2020.

EHL Immobilien told Der Standard “optimism is back” and said many companies were searching for office space again. 

Real estate investment in Austria continues to rise

Financial figures from the third quarter show real estate investments in Austria are more than in 2020. 

Between January and September 2021, around €2.6 billion was invested into real estate in the country, up seven percent from 2020.

However, in the third quarter of this year around €830 million was invested, approximately 19 percent more than in the same period in 2020.

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CBRE Austria believes the figure could be even higher if there were more suitable properties available for investment and experts are predicting a strong fourth quarter for real estate investment in Austria.

Austria’s building boom continues

Austria’s boom in construction and home ownership is showing no sign of slowing down any time soon due to ongoing high demand.

The Wiener Zeitung reports that there are currently 7.0 active building permits for every 1,000 residents in Austria. In Germany, the figure is 4.4.

READ MORE: How can I buy a second home in Austria?

However, there are regional differences with 9.1 building permits per 1,000 residents in Vienna, followed by 8.6 in Vorarlberg and 8.4 in Styria.

Housing stock in Austria is also considered among the best in the world due to the high standard of furnishings and the size of apartments, both of which are above the international average.

Houses of the Year 2021

The Houses of the Year competition recently took place and three Austrian homes were recognised in the shortlist.

Caramel Architects in Vienna was praised for a lightweight wood construction house in Linz with a green roof (complete with roof terrace), large windows, spacious interior and a pool.

A renovation project in Neuaigen, 40km from Vienna, by architect Maximilian Eisenköck was highlighted for the floating pavilion feature and low-cost construction methods.

Finally, a 1,700 sqm house in a Viennese vineyard by Dietrich Untertrifaller Architekten was recognised for the complex design and graphite-gray steel structure that supports the property.

The first prize went to a city apartment building in Zurich, Switzerland.

The competition is run by publisher Callwey-Verlag in cooperation with the German Architecture Museum and has been running for 11 years. 

Images of the Austrian homes can be found at Der Standard.

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For members

RENTING

Tenant or landlord: Who pays which costs in Austria?

Renters in Austria are eligible for some operating costs and certain bills associated with renting a property. Here’s what you need to know.

Tenant or landlord: Who pays which costs in Austria?

When renting an apartment or a house in Austria it’s important to know your rights when it comes to expenses.

Operating costs, also known as the “second rent”, cover things like insurance, management fees and rubbish removal. Then there are utility bills, such as gas, electricity and internet, all of which can add up to significant monthly outgoings on top of the rent payment.

But when renting a property in Austria, who is responsible for which costs? The tenant or the landlord?

As with most things in life, it depends. Here’s why.

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What are operating costs? 

Operating costs (Betriebskosten) are financial expenses that landlords can pass onto tenants in Austria. It’s to ensure tenants pay their share of the running costs of a property.

However, the type of operating costs that a tenant is liable for will depend on the type of property they live in. Thankfully this is laid out in the Tenancy Act (MRG).

For example, in Vienna if you live in a new building that is subsidised with public funds, or an Altbau (old building built before 1945), then the law specifies which costs can be charged by a landlord.

These include water, garbage collection, electricity for lighting staircases and common areas, insurance for fire and water damage, management fees and running costs of communal facilities.

Whereas in a privately owned building, the rental contract should specify the operating costs that have to be paid by the tenant and which costs are covered by the landlord.

This can be negotiated before signing a contract.

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How are operating costs calculated?

According to The Tenants Association, operating costs are typically billed monthly at a flat rate. Each tenant pays a share of the expenses for the building in relation to the size of their apartment. 

The monthly amount is calculated by the total expenses of the previous year, plus a maximum increase of 10 per cent. Operating costs can legally be increased once a year.

A landlord must submit the bill for operating costs for the previous calendar year by June 30th. The landlord then has until the end of the year to correct the amount (if necessary). Once this deadline has passed the landlord can no longer make any claims for operating costs for the previous year.

Tenants with concerns about their bill for operating costs should seek advice from professional rental associations like Tenants Assistance for Vienna or The Tenants Association.

Stadt Wien also has a useful operating costs calculator that is free to use. 

READ ALSO: How to navigate the Austrian rental market

Who pays for utilities?

Eligibility for the cost of utilities (gas, electricity, water) will be stated in the rental contract. 

Usually the tenant pays these bills unless the cost of utilities is included in the rent, with the exception of cold water which is covered by the Tenancy Act and can be included in operating costs.

If utilities are not included in the rent, the good news is that you can sign up with a provider of your choice. However, if the utilities are included, then the landlord will typically choose the provider.

Operating costs covered by the Tenancy Act

These are operating costs that can be passed on to the tenant by the landlord in accordance with the law.

  • Cold water costs
  • Insurance for fire, liability and water
  • Operational costs for communal facilities, such as electricity for lifts or maintenance of a shared garden
  • Housekeeping and management fees
  • Taxes, including property tax
  • Pest control
  • Chimney sweeping
  • Rubbish removal
  • Sewer clearing

Operating costs not covered by the Tenancy Act

The following costs are not covered by Austrian law, which means landlords can’t pass on these costs to tenants.

  • Electricity in apartments (this is usually paid for by the tenant unless stated otherwise in the contract)
  • Repair work for burst pipes, damaged chimneys, lighting in staircases or intercoms
  • Connection to the public water supply network
  • Bank charges, interest or telephone fees
  • Clearing rubbish, such as after renovations on the building

Additional costs for tenants

The following are typical monthly costs that must be paid by tenants unless otherwise stated in the rental contract. 

  • Heating and energy costs (e.g. gas and electricity)
  • Hot water
  • Contents insurance (if stated in the rental agreement)
  • Internet
  • Phone 
  • Laundry charges (e.g. if shared facilities)
  • TV fees

Useful links

Mieterhilfe – Tenants Assistance for Vienna

Die Mieter Vereinigung – The Tenants Association

Arbitration Board Vienna – operated by the City of Vienna

ÖMB – Austrian Tenants and Apartment Owners Association

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