Austria has plans to reduce gas bills for people renting an Altbau, or old buildings, which often fall under rent control laws.
Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) is looking into how a price reduction for gas heating could be implemented after the idea was floated by Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens), broadcaster ORF reported.
“The tenants get a high bill but have zero leeway to change their heating system themselves,” Kogler told Austrian media.
Austria’s ÖVP leading party said there is “no ban on thinking” and any idea should be debated and evaluated.
The old residential apartments have a central heating system and tenants cannot adjust it themselves. At the same time, Kogler wants to create incentives for apartment building owners and landlords to convert to renewable heating systems.
Opposition parties divided
The SPÖ is in favour of the measures, while right-wing FPÖ says they make “tenancy law even more confusing”.
Unsurprisingly, the landowners’ association (ÖHGB) said they saw Kogler’s proposal as impractical populism. Furthermore, they complain that changing the heating source is not an easy matter in Austria, where many options, such as heat pumps or district heating, are not available everywhere.
There are currently around 250,000 apartments in Altbau buildings, most of them in the capital Vienna, and heated with gas.
Rising energy prices
The costs of gas (and electricity) are increasing in Austria, as The Local reported. State-run distributors EVN and Wien Energie announced earlier this month that prices were set to go up as of September.
In Lower Austria, around 50 percent of EVN consumers should expect to pay at least €100 more monthly. The hike will affect those on a “classic tariff”.
At Wien Energie, electricity prices will go up by €36 a month (based on an annual consumption of 2,000 kWh), and gas prices will increase by €60 a month (based on 8,000 kWh). However, those with a price guarantee or floating tariff will not be affected.
Austria is looking to cushion the increasing costs for its population and is working on an electricity price cap. Earlier this year, the government sent out €150 energy vouchers people could use to get a discount on their yearly energy bills.
Regionally, similar measures have already been taken, especially in Lower Austria, where a €250 million funding plan was recently announced.
Vienna has announced an extensive package with one-off payments of €200 and structural measures that will benefit more than one million residents in the Austrian capital, as The Local reported.