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EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s rules for Airbnb rentals?

Thinking of renting out your apartment or just a room via Airbnb in Austria? Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s rules for Airbnb rentals?
The Tyrolean city of Innsbruck has some specific rules for short-term holiday rentals. Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

Short-term rentals on Airbnb continue to be popular among travellers, especially as an alternative to hotels during the Covid-19 pandemic.

But while the home stay platform has dramatically changed travel and provided a new income stream for many property owners, it has also led to concerns of rising rents in city centres that are pushing out local residents.

As a result, governments and city councils across Austria and abroad have put in place regulations to try and control the short-term rental market. 

Here’s what you need to know about the rules for Airbnb in Austria. 

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

Is Airbnb legal in Austria – and what do I need to know?

Airbnb is legal in Austria but there are certain rules in place to protect cities and local communities from the effects of over-tourism.

For example, Airbnb has been sharing tax data with the Finance Ministry since January 2021 to ensure hosts are correctly informing the tax office about their income from rental properties. 

Airbnb also has a direct telephone hotline where neighbours can report suspected illicit rentals, as well as other issues like loud parties. 

However, there are some specific regional rules to be aware of, as detailed below.

Airbnb rules in Vienna

In Vienna, the commercial rental of properties in residential zones has been prohibited since 2018. Additionally, most subsidised housing lease agreements prohibit tenants from subletting the property.

Unfortunately, many people disregarded the rules prompting Vienna’s Commercial Court to rule that city-owned apartments could no longer be rented on platforms like Airbnb. 

This led to the removal of all Viennese social housing rental apartments from the platform in October 2021, followed by a commitment from Airbnb to promote “responsible tourism” in Austria. 

READ MORE: Airbnb removes all Viennese municipal apartments from its site

In a statement last year, the company said: “Airbnb shares the goal of the City of Vienna to protect living space – especially in municipal housing – and is therefore removing listings in municipal housing from the platform as part of a voluntary initiative.” 

Airbnb has also since granted Viennese authorities access to the site to help ensure the rules are followed, and has agreed to remind Austrian users regularly of the rules.

Finally, there is the Vienna City Tax (Ortstaxe) that Airbnb hosts must register for and pay by the 15th of the month for any paid stays at their properties during the previous month.

Airbnb rules in Tyrol

The topic of Airbnb rentals in Innsbruck in Tyrol is currently being discussed by the municipal council. This is in relation to the protection of data collected during investigations into properties suspected of breaking the rules.

In 2019, a new law was brought in that allows the local authority to issue fines up to €5,000 to landlords that fail to register their property as a short-term rental with Innsbruck Tourismus.

Other rules in Tyrol that Airbnb hosts should be aware of are an overnight tax for tourists and the requirement to have a permit from the building authorities to legally host tourists

Airbnb rules in Salzburg

The Land Use Planning Act in Salzburg states property owners must get permission from the local building authority to use a home for commercial rental purposes, including for Airbnb.

An exception to the rule is the short term rental of private rooms, defined as accommodation up to 10 people in guest rooms, as long as this is the host’s main residence.

However, all hosts (whether of private rooms or entire properties) must register with the tax authority to comply with the Overnight Accommodation Tax Act. All overnight stays in Salzburg are subject to the tax rules.

FOR MEMBERS: How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

Airbnb rules in Styria

In Styria, property owners are entitled to rent out their homes on a short-term basis for tourism. But condominium rules might apply to properties in apartment buildings, which means landlords have to request permission before listing the home for rent.

There is also an overnight and holiday apartment tax law in Styria which means every overnight stay is subject to a tax. This is paid by guests to the host, who then pay the local authority.

Can I sublet my rented apartment in Austria via Airbnb?

Subletting a rental apartment or room is not illegal in Austria, but that doesn’t mean you can start listing your home on Airbnb straight away.

In most cases, permission is required by the landlord to sublet a property. It’s also important to check your rental agreement for any clauses specifically prohibiting subletting.

Then there are regional rules to consider, like Vienna’s ban on social housing being used as Airbnb rentals.

If in doubt, check with the owner of the property and the local authority before planning to become an Airbnb host.

I own my flat. Can I rent it out on Airbnb in Austria?

In theory, yes. However, there could be other rules to consider depending on where the property is located.

For example, you might need permission from neighbours or a homeowner’s association to rent out a flat to Airbnb guests in an apartment building. 

Most short-term rental properties also have to be registered with a tourism association, and in most cases overnight stays are subject to a tourism tax. 

Useful links

Airbnb rules in Austria

City of Vienna website

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TRAVEL NEWS

Six tourist scams to be aware of in Austria

Planning a visit to Austria? While the Alpine nation is one of the world's safest, there are a few things to be aware of.

Six tourist scams to be aware of in Austria

Austria is a safe country for tourists and residents alike. Fortunately, serious crime is rare and the following are very much an exception rather than the rule. 

However, it always a good advice for a visitor to any foreign country to stay alert, be cautious, and not fall prey to tricksters out to get your money.

Many of these scams are not typically Austrian. In fact you’ll likely encounter them in many countries and many big cities, but could encounter them while visiting Austria so it’s worth being aware. 

One thing to remember is that these scams are very much targeted at tourists, which means you are likely to encounter them in locations popular with tourists – real or online.

Scams which you might see elsewhere – such as dodgy taxi meters, fake tourist prices at restaurants or fake tour guides – are not common in Austria, but are still worth looking out for. 

If you’re visiting a popular tourist site or trying to scout accommodation online, best to be on your toes. If you see something fishy, call the police on 133. 

Have we missed one? Get in touch at [email protected]

Rental scam

If you opt to rent a flat or holiday apartment rather than stay in a hotel, keep in mind that not all advertisements you see online are legitimate.

These false ads invariably feature photos of beautiful properties for prices that are totally incompatible with reality — for instance, a fully furnished large studio in the centre of Vienna or Innsbruck at rock bottom prices. 

How do you know such offers are scams? Usually if it seems too good to be true, then it is. 

But there are a few other telltale signs. 

One example is if the landlord tells you he or she will send the key by mail — after you pay one month’s rent in advance.

Another is to ask for specific personal details, like a copy of your passport, before you visit the apartment. 

In order to avoid this, try and book through reputable sites – although this is no guarantee, as scammers can find there way to AirBnb and other well-known accommodation companies. 

For an extensive summary of some of the scams to watch out for in Austria, check out the following link. 

EXPLAINED: Five common apartment scams in Austria

‘Deaf’ people asking for money

If you sit in an outdoor café and a person carrying a little sign approaches you asking for money, beware.

The sign says (often in several languages) that the person is deaf and asks for a donation for the organisation helping people with hearing impairments.

You can be sure this is a scam. How? 

Generally, most charities and advocacy groups do not collect cash then and there.

Instead, they’ll ask for your contact details and want you to make a regular contribution, so be wary. If you are unsure, don’t hesitate to ask for ID. 

Fake ticket checkers or police

If you’re in a different country, being approached by a person in an official capacity can put you at ease – which is why scams of this nature can be effective.

Austria’s Ministry of the Interior has warned of people dressed as police officers targeting tourists, particularly tourists of Asian appearance. Russian and American tourists have also been targeted, with the US Embassy in Austria issuing similar warnings

One scam reported in Vienna involves people dressed as police officers with fake identification approaching tourists and asking for their ID. When the tourists handed over their wallets, they were later returned with the cash taken. 

Similar scams can be carried out by people pretending to check your train tickets. 

As many Austrian train stations do not have barriers, your ticket will be checked by an official ticket checker roaming the train. 

Always ask to see official ID and never hand over anything without being sure. 

READ MORE: What you need to know about Austria’s ‘fake cop’ scam

The ‘bonneteau’ game scam

This particular scam used to be widespread in many parts of Europe but is now outlawed.

However, you could still come across it somewhere in the dark corners of Austrian tourist sites, as scammers will hide away from authorities. 

A person will invite you to play a game where a small ball is moved under three cups; you must place a bet (starting at 100 euros!) and guess under which cup the ball is hidden.

This is akin to throwing your money out the window because you will never win — but lose plenty if you are drawn into this scam.

If the person 'winning' looks like the dealer, there's a good chance you're witnessing a scam.

If the person ‘winning’ looks like the brother of the dealer, you’re probably witnessing a scam.

‘Free stuff’ scam

Say you are walking down a street and someone approaches you and offers you a something for free. It could be a flower, a ‘friendship bracelet’, or anything else. The moment you take it, the person demands money and causes a scandal if you refuse to pay.

READ MORE: How to avoid rental scams in Austria

These people could be disguised as Buddhist monks or other trustworthy figures, but don’t accept anything from anybody you don’t know.

If this does happen to you and the person threatens you when you refuse to pay, just walk away. The law is on your side, not theirs.

Never accept ‘freebies’ from anyone. Photo: Photo by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash

Pickpockets and distraction techniques

These people ply their trade in crowded tourist spots, so be careful about how you carry your belongings.

They are much more sophisticated than pickpockets of yore who merely slid their hand in a back pocket of your pants and took your wallet. 

These days, they are more likely to operate in gangs or at least teams of two — one person will distract you (by bumping into you, for example, or by telling you that you have something like bird poo on your shirt) while the other will cut the strap of your bag and run away or simply take your phone or wallet. 

Another scam involves pressing up close to you and ‘dancing’ with you, while removing valuables from your bag or pocket. 

Perhaps the most common trick combines the fake charity scams listed above with pickpocketing. It is particularly effective for people sitting at cafes or bars who have their phone or wallet sitting on the table. 

Scammers will carry a clipboard or pretend to sell/donate magazines. 

They’ll walk over to where you are sitting and hold the clipboard over it, asking you to donate or sign a petition. This will obscure your view of your valuables, which they will pocket. 

To avoid these scams, act like a local. Walk briskly through crowded places and carry only the basic necessities with you, leaving valuables in your hotel room. And never put your phone, wallet or other valuables on a bar or table. 

READ MORE: Austrian police warn of fake DHL text message scam

Other than all of the above, enjoy your holiday!

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