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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?
What operating costs and bills are tenants eligible for in Austria? Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP

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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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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