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RENTING

Renting in Austria: When can my landlord increase the rent, and by how much?

Austria has a closely regulated and therefore relatively affordable rental market, but in recent years rents have risen, sometimes sharply. This is partly due to permitted increases in line with inflation, but in some cases landlords bank on people not knowing their rights.

Renting in Austria: When can my landlord increase the rent, and by how much?
Rental increases are allowed by law in Austria, but are subject to certain conditions. Photo: Jarek Ceborski/Unsplash

There are circumstances in which your landlord is allowed to increase your rent, and these usually depend on the type of building you’re in.

If your rental is covered by Austria’s Tenancy Act, usually applying to older buildings, then you have more protections.

For an Altbau (built before 1945 or 1953, depending on a few factors), there are caps on the maximum rent per square metre which are set for each region.

These are updated every two years, although the raises were put on hold during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and your landlord is allowed to increase the rent to reflect any change to these upper limits, as long as your rental contract includes a clause about this (sometimes called a Wertsicherungsklausel or ‘value retention clause’). In some cases, your landlord can charge more than these amounts based on the location or condition of the apartment.

Your landlord usually needs to give you two weeks’ notice of any increase, and a raise can’t be applied retrospectively.

If your rental contract is not subject to the MRG, then your landlord has more freedom to raise the rent. There is no set notice period and they also have the possibility of a retrospective increase, unless this possibility is excluded in the contract.

This is one reason why you always need to read your rental contract carefully when you first receive it. Many landlords will include a clause allowing them to increase the rent in line with inflation, often based on the Consumer Price Index (Verbraucherpreisindex). For example, the contract may state that if the price index changes by more than a set amount (often 3 percent or 5 percent), the landlord can adjust the rent accordingly.

In this case, the contract should specify which index will be used to calculate any change in rent, as well as provisions such as when the landlord needs to notify you. There are several organisations in Austria that will review your rental contract before you sign, some for free and some as a service for paying members, and they can also give you help if you’re given a rent increase that you don’t think is legitimate.

It is also possible for landlords to specify in their contract that rent will rise by a set amount at a set interval, as long as the rental isn’t regulated by the MRG. So for example, the contract might state that the cost will increase by €50 every year. In this case, the change has to apply for at least one year once it comes into effect.

Even if you’re not covered by the MRG, it doesn’t mean the landlord has completely free rein. A law called the ABGB, Austria’s general civil code, still applies and this means the price charged must be “proportionate” to the service provided.

READ ALSO: How to navigate the Austrian rental market

Another situation in which your landlord may want to increase your rent is if they carry out renovations or refurbishments which increase the value of the property. In this scenario, they usually need to apply to the district court who will decide if the renovations are necessary and add value, and the landlord should prove that rental income over ten years won’t cover the costs — otherwise it is possible for the landlord and tenant to come to an agreement together.

If another person moves into the property — for example if your partner moves in with you or if you have a child — your landlord is not generally allowed to increase the rent as a result.

Note that there are two other set of laws around rent increases: ‘category rent’ (Kategoriemietzins) which applies to leases concluded before 1994, and ‘reasonable rent’ (angemessene Mietzins) which applies only in specific circumstances like business premises and apartments in listed buildings. We haven’t included these in this summary because most foreign residents in Austria will have rental contracts subject to the more usual provisions listed above.

Useful links

Mietervereinigung (Tenant’s association which gives advice and legal support to paying members)

Mieterhilfe (free advice service for tenants in Vienna, offered in German only)

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For members

PROPERTY

Property buying rules for foreigners in Tyrol and Vorarlberg

While many countries have a north-south divide, Austria is often split between east and west, and it’s no different when it comes to property.

Property buying rules for foreigners in Tyrol and Vorarlberg

The west of Austria is home to the Alps and many famous ski resorts, making it a highly sought-after place to buy property – for both Austrians and foreigners.

But the popularity of this part of the country has led to skyrocketing prices and strict rules on who can and can’t buy property.

Thinking of investing in a home in Tyrol or Vorarlberg? Here’s what you need to know.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The rules for buying property in Graz as a foreigner

Who is a foreigner in Austria?

Foreign nationals are defined by the Austrian Federal Government as people that do not have Austrian citizenship.

But when it comes to buying property, there are varying rules for different foreigners. This mostly depends on whether someone is from an EU country or not (rather than whether they have an Austrian passport).

Property buying rules for EU and EEA citizens in Austria

It can be easy for citizens from EU and EEA countries and Switzerland to buy property as a foreigner in Austria.

This is because these citizens are granted the same rights as Austrian nationals under EU law.

So this means whether you are an EU citizen already living in Tyrol or Vorarlberg as a resident, or you simply want to purchase an investment property in the Alps, then it is possible.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: Property buying rules for international residents in Austria

Brits with an Article 50 card

For people with an Article 50 Card – a post-Brexit residency permit that grants Brits living in Austria before December 31st 2020 pre-Brexit rights – they are still treated the same as those from EU member states. 

But for any British people that have moved to Austria in post-Brexit times, they will be considered as third country nationals and subject to the rules detailed below. 

Nationwide property-buying rules for third country nationals

In Austria, the term ‘third country nationals’ refers to anyone who is not from an EU member state, an EEA (European Economic Area) country (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland. 

For this group, it is usually more difficult to buy property in Austria – even for permanent residents – due to strict rules.

In principle, any permanent residents from a third country in Austria have to go through an authorisation process to gain a special permit that will allow them to buy property. 

The reason for the permit is to ensure there is sufficient housing available for Austrian citizens and to avoid surging property and land prices from interest by non-EU buyers.

But the rules for foreigners buying property in Austria are regulated by the Foreign Nationals’ Property Acquisition Act of each province, which is why they can vary across Austria.

READ MORE: Where to find property in Austria for under €100k

What is different in Tyrol and Vorarlberg?

In Tyrol and Vorarlberg, only EU, EEA and Swiss nationals are allowed to buy property as a foreigner. British people with an Article 50 card are also included in this group.

This means third country nationals are not allowed to purchase property in these states.

Innsbruck, one of Austria’s most beautiful – and expensive – cities. Photo: Photo: Wikicommons

Why are the rules different in the west of Austria?

In a bid to reign in the property markets in Tyrol and Vorarlberg, governments have introduced measures such as caps on the number of holiday homes in certain districts. Third country nationals are also prohibited from buying property.

However, this has led to some international residents being pushed out of the market, like a Serbian couple who were denied a permit to buy a house in Tyrol in 2021, despite living and working in the province for 20 years.

In Vorarlberg, there are also special laws in place to restrict where holiday apartments can and can’t be built to protect the local housing stock.

Likewise, a property in Vorarlberg can only be used as a holiday home within specially designated zones – a rule that applies to Austrian citizens and foreigners.

READ ALSO: ‘Concrete gold’: Austria ranks as Europe’s second most expensive property market

Other regional property buying rules and exceptions

While the west of Austria has strict rules when it comes to foreigners buying property, it is the opposite in some places in the east.

For example, in Vienna, the key difference is that if a married couple is buying property and one spouse is an Austrian citizen, they do not have to go through the authorisation process to get a special permit.

But for couples in Vienna where both partners are international residents, or non-EU individuals, the authorisation process still applies.

And in Graz, there is no requirement for foreigners to gain the special permit to buy property. This means, as long as someone is a permanent resident in Graz (and they have the funds), they can buy property – no matter where they are from.

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