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Renting For Members

'Betriebskosten': What are the extra costs renters must pay in Austria?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
'Betriebskosten': What are the extra costs renters must pay in Austria?
Vienna, Austria - old apartment buildings. (Credit: tupungato GettyImages)

Renting an apartment in Austria means you’ll have to budget not only for the rent, but other somewhat hidden monthly costs and expenses.

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Understanding operating costs or the specific expenses landlords or property agencies charge renters, is crucial for staying on top of your monthly payments when renting a place in Austria. These extra costs, known in German as Betriebskosten, are strictly regulated by Austria's Tenancy Act. 

Here are the operating expensses that are chargeable to tenants, according to the MieterHilfe Public Association:

  • Water/wastewater and costs of leak testing, plus excess consumption due to burst pipes, but does not include disproportionate additional consumption for commercial operations;
  • Rubbish removal (and also clearing out floors and cellars);
  • Clearing out abandoned property;
  • Pest control, with costs such as extermination and periodic inspection or removal of pigeon droppings. Installation of pigeon screens is not included;
  • Sweeping fees (chimney sweep);
  • Electricity for lighting and communal facilities, such as the stairwell, but also replacement of light bulbs, fuses or switches;
  • Insurance premiums for fire, liability and water damage;
  • Insurance premiums for glass breakage and storm damage provided that more than half of the tenants have agreed to this being passed on;
  • Management fee (there is a set administration fee per square metre of usable space and building construction year)
  • House cleaning, including wages and social payments if there is a caretaker, plus materials; 
  • Public charges, unless there is a prohibition on passing them on - offsetting of property taxes is permitted;
  • Ongoing operating costs for communal facilities (lift, heating, playground, green areas, common rooms, etc.).

However, costs such as maintenance and repair work can never be charged under operating expenses.

The same goes for any 'disproportionate additional costs or consumption due to commercial operations ', which refers to costs that are significantly higher than what would be considered normal for residential use or costs that are incurred due to the operation of a business within the rented property. 

READ ALSO: Tenant or landlord - Who pays which costs in Austria?

Vienna's association for tenants MieterHilfe has a calculator that uses average values to show whether the Betriebskosten you pay are comparatively low, medium or high. The association notes, however, that even low values could be considered unauthorised billing in some cases. In contrast, high values could be correct - the calculator only shows if you are paying too much compared to other properties in the city.

You can check the values HERE. You will need to know either the total usable area of the building or the usable area of the flat and the operating cost share—this information is usually shown in a payment statement you receive from property management. 

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What if I believe I am being unfairly charged?

If you think you are paying too much, but the charges are legal - such as for water electricity etc, then you would need to raise this issue with property management. They could take measures to save on operating costs, such as replacing old light bulbs with more energy-efficient ones or setting lights to a timer instead of a traditional light switch, for example.

There are many possible reasons for high or low values, according to the City of Vienna. For example, you may pay comparatively low for water one year because of a small number of residents, while the following year, there are leaking sanitary facilities and a burst water pipe that raises costs.

Buildings with many communal areas and green spaces often tend to have higher operating costs, especially for water, electricity, and housekeeping. 

However, things are different if you think you are being unduly charged—that is, there are charges in the operating costs that do not belong there, such as unapproved construction repair.

READ ALSO: Renting in Austria - The key things foreign residents need to know

If you are unsure of the costs, there is a significant deviation from average prices for no particular reason, or you believe that you are being charged for something not legally admissible as an operating cost, you could have a free check carried out by MieterHilfe or a tenant protection organisation. 

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If there is a suspicion of unauthorised billing that cannot be dispelled between tenants and the property management company, this will be clarified at the arbitration board. The arbitration board is an independent body that mediates disputes between tenants and landlords. It is a point of contact before the courts in case of difficulties or legal disputes, and its decision is legally binding.

Property management companies and landlords must settle the operating costs for the previous year by 30 June at the latest and disclose them to tenants. This deadline is set to ensure that tenants have sufficient time to review their cost statements and raise any concerns before the new rental year begins. All expenses must be itemised in the statement, providing transparency and allowing tenants to see exactly what they are being charged for.

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They are obliged to provide tenants with a detailed summary of the statement and the invoice documents. If the operating costs per square metre exceed €2, a more detailed review is recommended, according to the City of Vienna.

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