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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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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.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: Which documents do you need to rent a flat in Austria?

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.

READ MORE: ENERGY COSTS: How to claim financial support in Vienna

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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