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RENTING

Reader question: Do I have to repaint the walls when I leave a rental in Austria?

The short answer is usually no, but this is an issue that frequently comes up for tenants in Austria. We explain the laws and rights that apply.

Paint
This clause is usually not allowed in rental contracts, but that doesn't stop some landlords adding it in. Photo: Theme Photos/Unsplash

My tenancy in Austria is coming to an end, and my landlord has told me I need to repaint the walls of the apartment before I go in order to get my deposit back. Sure enough, it’s in my rental contract. What are the rules about this?

Renters in Austria have quite a high level of legal protection, so if you’re ever told something by a landlord that doesn’t sound quite right, it’s always worth checking your rights.

The basic principle for handing back a rental apartment is that you should give it back in the same condition you received it in, allowing for basic wear and tear as caused by normal use. That means that things like small marks on flooring and walls, as well as holes where you might have put up pictures or art, are completely allowed. 

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

But it’s not uncommon to see a clause in rental contracts stating that the tenant must repaint the walls when they leave. Sometimes there might be additional stipulations, saying the painting must be carried out by a certified professional for example. 

This generally isn’t allowed under Austrian law.

The only case where you might be obligated to repaint is if you have caused significant damage to the walls. Again, minor marks from shelving or picture hooks do not count, and even if you repainted the walls that’s generally allowed unless you changed them from a neutral/standard colour to something unusual. 

A Vienna Court has previously ruled that a tenant should have their full deposit returned and that they did not have to repaint a room white after they painted it green and ochre during their tenancy, because this was not “excessive wear and tear” as their landlord tried to claim. So it’s only if you’ve opted for a very bright colour or extreme design that you may need to repaint and bear the costs of that.

READ ALSO: Altbau vs Neubau: What’s the difference?

The best thing to do is read your contract carefully when you first receive it, check up on any clauses relating to your responsibilities as a tenant, and ensure that anything not permitted like a re-painting clause is removed before you sign. There are organisations such as Mieterhilfe or Mieterfreunde which will even review a contract for you for free.

Not everyone will do that the first time around, particularly if you were anxious to get your new home confirmed, unfamiliar with Austrian bureaucratic language, or from a country where this type of clause might be the norm.

The good news is that even if a re-painting clause is in your contract and you signed it, this has no legal bearing if it was a pre-prepared contract (ie. if your landlord drew up the contract — if on the other hand you drew it up together and you explicitly agreed to the painting clause being added in, then you may be obliged to comply). 

READ ALSO: How to navigate the Austrian rental market

If your landlord tells you that you need to repaint when you move out, you should tell them (politely and in writing) that you will be returning the apartment in the equivalent condition to when you received it, allowing for normal wear and tear, and note that Austrian rental law states re-painting is not required. You could send a link to an Austrian authority explaining the law change, for example this page from the Chamber of Commerce or this one from the Tenants’ Association.

You should always take plenty of pictures, or even video, to demonstrate the state you left the apartment in, and that applies even more so if you suspect your landlord may try to withhold your deposit by arguing you did cause excessive damage.

If your landlord still refuses to return your full deposit until you repaint the walls, you may need to take legal action. If you’re a member of one of Austria’s tenant associations, they should be able to help you; otherwise there are other free tenant advice organisations such as Mieterhilfe in Vienna, or you can contact the Chamber of Commerce.

Got a question about life in Austria? Contact our editorial team at [email protected] and we will do our best to help you.

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge, or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Vienna.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

If you find yourself with a large piece of furniture or big household appliance that has seen its prime and is not bound to the trashcan, then you might be wondering where to dispose of them – legally, that is.

Even if it is not uncommon to see furniture or appliances next to the big trashcans often placed near households and apartment complexes, it is illegal to leave them there.

Different cities have different methods – some will even pick up trash at specific times and places. To know how your city deals with bulky waste (Sperrmüll), you can google “Sperrmüll + the name of your city”.

READ ALSO: Why does Vienna’s waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

Vienna has several waste collection points where you can leave bulky waste, electrical appliances, hazardous waste (in household quantities) and other old goods for no charge.

The use of the Wiener Mistplätze is subject to certain quantity limits and requirements, but they are to avoid industrial use. Therefore, most households will have no problem with the limitations.

Here you can find several collection points in Vienna.

It is worth pointing out that delivery to those sites can only be made by cars with Viennese license plates, on foot or by bicycle. Furthermore, no trailers or company cars are allowed to leave trash at these collection points.

What can you bring to the collection centres?

This is the place to bring large sheets of plastic foil, bulky or large metal parts and electrical appliances, for example.

Additionally, you can bring small amounts of bulky waste, wood, styrofoam, large cardboard boxes, green waste and used tires to any waste collection centres.

Depending on what you are disposing of, you might need to go to the Rinter centre, one of the larger ones.

READ ALSO: Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke

The centres also have a separate division where it is possible to donate old items still in good condition, the so-called 48er-Tandler-Box.

Tableware, small furniture, electrical appliances, clothes, toys and other items can be reused and bought at a low price at the 48er-Tandler reuse shop.

Most centres are open only from Monday to Friday during business hours, but others are also available on Saturdays.

What to do if I don’t have a car?

If you don’t need a car but still need to dispose of a large appliance, the Viennese solution varies.

Some will take public transport with a couple of friends trying to help them carry an old sofa via the u-bahn, although that can get a little tough at peak hour. 

Alternatively, you can borrow or rent a vehicle to try and save costs.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

But Vienna City also has a service that will pick up the trash for a low fee – even if it is located in the attic, a basement or a courtyard.

It’s the Entrümpelungsdienst und Sperrmüllabfuhr der MA 48. You can also ask for the “dump service” when the city of Vienna brings a trough (the smallest can fit 12 cubic meters).

Once you fill it up, they will remove it and take it to the appropriate place.

Costs will depend on the amount of trash, the size of the appliance, and where in the household it is located.

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