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.
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.
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)