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RENTING

Property: How to find a rental flat when you arrive in Austria

Finding an apartment or house in Austria is not easy, especially if you have recently arrived. Here's how to get a head start.

Property: How to find a rental flat when you arrive in Austria

Rentals in Austria are neither cheap nor abundant. It can take months for people to find a suitable place, get accepted by the property owner and pay all the fees related to the process.

From 2023, Austrians will at least get some relief, as the federal government is scrapping the Provision, or the broker’s fee that needs to be paid by tenants. From then on, the two-month rent non-refundable fee will be paid by the solicitor of the service, usually the person renting their property, rather than the prospective tenant. 

Even so, finding a flat as a newcomer can be challenging. Here are the best tips to give you a head start.

Ask around

Austria is very much a network type of country. People ask their friends for recommendations on services, possible job applicants, tenants and all sorts of things. 

READ ALSO: Ten tips for finding an apartment in Austria

Transferring the rental contract from one person to another is comparatively simple in Austria, which makes it relatively common place. 

Even if you have just arrived, it is worth mentioning to your boss, family members, colleagues at work or school and even Facebook groups for expats that you are looking for a place.

Someone might know someone. A coworker might even help you find a place without showing proof of salary just by mentioning you work together.

Generally speaking, offers don’t end up on official sites until they’ve been turned down by a person’s close friends and networks, so use your networking power, even if your network is rather small. 

Use the search platforms

Especially if you want to avoid paying brokerage fees (until 2023, of course), there’s no reason why you should not use the same tools and search engines Austrians do. 

And if you want to try and avoid the fee until 2023, a good way is by adding “Provisionfrei” as a filter or as a search term.

Some of the more popular websites to look for flats are Immowelt, Immobilien Scout 24, Der Standard, and Willhaben. There are many, but at some point, they start getting repetitive. 

READ ALSO: Renting in Austria: How to find a furnished apartment

Be prepared and be persistent

Finding a place is not easy, and you might send dozens of emails and applications until getting an official return. Websites are updated daily and early in the day, so set your alarm and check for new listings. 

The best places will be rented almost on a first-come, first-serve basis, as long as the first to come fulfills the necessary requirements. 

Once you get an appointment for a viewing, be prepared. Write down all your questions, take everything you might want to use (measurers and a printed checklist, for example), show up on time (this is extremely important) and bring someone with you (your partner or a family) so you can get a second opinion if you want. 

It is not rare for negotiations to start right off of the viewing, and those may last fewer than 15 minutes. You could even take some prepared documents and papers with you and hand them to the broker if you like the place. 

What to do if I don’t have proof of income?

One of the first hurdles that a person who is renting out a new apartment, especially for students or expats, is providing the real estate agency with proof of income.

Usually, they require the last three payment slips. But, unfortunately, that is not possible for anyone starting out a new job, coming here as a self-employed worker, or students, for example.

In case you come already with a job lined up, a work contract stating your salary should be enough for most real estate agencies. 

Other possibilities include showing the latest tax return for self-employed workers or having a family member co-sign as a guarantor, which is usually a good choice for students.

Additionally, you can negotiate a higher deposit, six months instead of three, or prepay a few months of rent.

It is not uncommon to negotiate several of these options with the broker or landlord. Sometimes, the higher deposit can be partially returned after a few months or a year.

READ MORE: The best places to live in Austria that are not Vienna

Some cities are more complicated than others

Of course, you need to take into account the regional differences when looking for a place and adjust your expectations accordingly. 

For example, Salzburg is experiencing a housing crisis and finding an affordable place there might seem nearly impossible. 

Others are difficult at some times in the year, for instance in Tyrol during winter sports season. 

Property in Austria: Real estate in high demand in Tyrol

In the capital Vienna, cheap and central apartments are highly disputed and could be difficult, especially for a foreign, to be the chosen tenant. 

If your budget is a bit higher or you are open to finding places outside of downtown, especially in the growing districts 21st and 22nd, there are more options. The city’s public transport system is excellent, and you will be well connected in just about any part of town.

The transport is also good to and from many of Vienna’s “commuter towns”, and that would perhaps be the place to look if you are searching for a house with a garden, for example. 

And watch out for scams

Not unlike any other part of the world, Austria and its residents can be victims of many types of scams, so watch out for them. 

Research the property thoroughly and don’t sign anything or send any money without viewing it. One of the most common scams is the “I’m overseas right now”, so be on the lookout for any landlord claiming to be away and, usually, asking for a deposit of some sort while they send you a key in the mail or variations of that.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Five common apartment scams in Austria

As a rule, no money is exchanged until the contract is signed.

If you’re unsure, or if the deal seems too good to be true, it’s best not to go ahead. Read our summary on avoiding rental scams in Austria for more information. 

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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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