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PROPERTY

How can I find an apartment in Austria without a ‘Provision’?

In Austria, the estate agents' fee or commission on rental apartments can be up to two months' rate plus VAT, a non-refundable cost which you can avoid if you know how.

Woman in empty apartment
Avoiding the upfront cost of the agents' commission or Provision is appealing, but watch out for these pitfalls. Photo: Kari Shea/Unsplash

The Provision or estate agents’ commission usually costs between one and two months’ rent plus 20 percent VAT, depending on the type of place you’re renting and the length of the contract.

This is a non-refundable, one-off fee, which is especially frustrating if you don’t know whether you’ll be staying in an apartment long-term. For example, if your apartment costs €600 for the net rent and you stay there for only one year, a Provision of two months’ rent means you are effectively paying €100 extra per month.

Renting in Austria:

That might be worth it if it means living in your dream property, or if you prefer the security of going through an agent. If you have other specific criteria that you don’t want to compromise on, like living in a specific area or any hard-to-find features, it may be best not to narrow your options further.

But if you want to try to find an apartment without this cost, there are a few options to try.

Most of the standard apartment rental platforms, such as Willhaben, ImmobilienScout24, and Der Standard’s rental section, have options to search for “provisionsfrei” apartments — those rented privately without an agent and therefore free of commission. But be prepared for your search results to reduce drastically!

Sometimes newly built apartment blocks are a good place to start, because it may be the case that the building owner pays the agent commission, making them provisionsfrei to you as the tenant. You’ll usually find these on the usual search portals too.

There are a few other search portals dedicated specifically to finding apartments without going through an agent, which include Wohnheim Wien (run by the Jewish Community of Vienna), KeinMakler, PrivatImmobilien, MietGuru, and FlatBee. Note: The Local has no affiliation with any of the sites listed in this article.

And word of mouth can be especially helpful if your priority is avoiding agent fees. You never know who might know someone who is leaving your city or their apartment and is looking for someone to take over the contract.

Other options for provisionsfreie apartments include renting a cooperative apartment (Genossenschaftswohnung), which means paying a large upfront fee to become a member of the cooperative in return for no commission and lower monthly rents, or looking into other kinds of rentals altogether such as co-living spaces or serviced apartments. But whether these are suitable really depends what your priorities are. It’s almost certainly not worth choosing a co-operative, co-living or serviced apartment just to avoid the Provision; it’s much more important that you choose what’s right for your financial and living situation.

So what do you need to watch out for when searching for a provisionsfrei apartment?

These apartments are very popular, so you might need to make more of an effort in your search than you otherwise would, for example by browsing the rental sites more regularly and contacting landlords quickly when you see something you like. Make sure to have documents like your proof of income ready to show them.

Landlords know that provisionsfrei apartments are appealing, so you should also check that they aren’t ramping up the cost elsewhere. Austria has regulations on how much can be charged for rent, so you should do your research if the price seems high.

If you’re looking at furnished places, check if there’s an Ablöse (fee for taking on the furniture) and whether the price seems reasonable for the quality of furnishing — otherwise you’re simply swapping one high upfront cost for another.

It’s always important to do due diligence when renting, for example checking out the condition of the apartment at the viewing and making sure the costs are all in line with what’s legally allowed and the standard prices for that area, but this is especially important when renting privately.

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For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Camping in Austria can be a lot of fun, but what are the rules? Here’s everything you need to know about setting up camp in the Alpine republic.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Waking up beside a lake or surrounded by mountains is a dream Austrian holiday for many, but it’s important to know the rules about camping before heading off with a tent or campervan.

As the summer season approaches, here’s everything you need to know about camping in Austria.

Is wild camping legal in Austria?

Wild camping – setting up camp outside of a designated campsite – is generally illegal in Austria. This applies to both camping in a tent or sleeping in a van on the side of the road.

Exceptions to this rule do exist but usually only if the municipal authority grants a temporary exception, for example for a school trip or a youth club activity.

A bivouac (temporary camp without cover) is allowed in the event of bad weather or injury, but planned wild camping in the mountains is illegal. 

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules for wild camping in Austria?

There are some regional differences though.

In the states of Salzburg, Vorarlberg and Styria there are no laws strictly forbidding camping outside of campsites, but local authorities can prohibit it and take action if necessary.

The strictest rules apply in national parks, nature reserves and special protection areas across Austria, so check before you plan your camping trip that your spot is not located in one of these areas.  

In most cases, if someone is caught camping illegally in Austria it is considered as an administrative offence and a fine can be issued, ranging from €5 to €500, depending on the location.

Camping in the forest

Camping in the forest is prohibited everywhere in Austria by law (specifically Section 33 of the Forest Act). The only exception is when you have the consent of the landowner.

Camping above the tree line

In Upper Austria and Styria you are allowed to camp in the mountains above the tree line, as long as you are outside of pasture areas.

In Vorarlberg this is also permitted, although the mayor of a municipality can prohibit the setting up of tents outside approved campsites if the interests of safety, health, agriculture or the protection of the natural balance as well as the landscape and townscape are “grossly violated”.

In Salzburg, camping above the tree line is in theory permitted, but the Alpine Association recommends groups wishing to camp should contact the nature conservation department of the responsible district administration before setting up. 

READ ALSO: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

Camping in a tent

Camping in a tent is the most common way of camping in the summer and most people pitch up on a dedicated campsite.

Many campgrounds have water and electricity facilities, as well as showers, cooking areas, recreation spaces and even kids clubs. Others have luxury elements like year-round heated pools, saunas, beach volleyball and restaurants.

Campsites are also often located near a lake or at the base of mountains, which means you can wake up to beautiful scenery every morning .

Some of Austria’s top camping associations include Camping Wien, Camping Steiermark and Top Camping Austria.

Camping in a van

Camping in a motorhome is only allowed at campsites in Austria and if someone is caught sleeping in a van in a prohibited area they can be fined.

The only exception is if a driver has to stop and recuperate before continuing driving.

Top camping tips

Austria is packed with stunning natural landscapes, so camping during the summer months is a popular activity – both for Austrian residents and tourists.

For this reason, it’s recommended to book ahead during the peak summer holiday months of July and August, whether planning to camp in a motorhome or tent.

Camping in motorhomes is also becoming more popular at some winter campsites during the ski season, so it’s always a good idea to book in advance.

Additionally, it’s advised to take bug spray when camping in Austria in the summer as insects like mosquitoes and ticks are common in countryside areas.

In fact, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) – a viral infection transmitted by the bite of infected ticks – is endemic in Austria and it’s recommended to get vaccinated before going on a hiking or camping trip in the country.

The main affected areas for TBE are Tyrol and Upper Austria.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s ‘tick vaccine’ and should you take it

Useful vocabulary

Campsite – Campingplätze

Tent – Zelt

Campervan – Reisemobil

Electricity – Strom

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