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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

The Local Austria
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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
Bike delivery workers will strike in Vienna for better wages (Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash)

Difficulties with the rental market, incest rapist Fritzl to transfer to regular prison, bicycle messengers strike and more news from Austria on Wednesday.


Austrian rental homes are still expensive and hard to find

Austrian renters face a challenging market as rental prices surge. Immoscout24 reports double-digit increases in major cities like Vienna, Linz, Klagenfurt, Bregenz, and Innsbruck. While these figures reflect asking rents, which can be subject to negotiation, the trend is clear, as Der Standard reported.

High demand and inflation are driving up rental prices across Austria. Immoscout24's report shows an 11 percent increase in asking rents for Vienna apartments compared to the first quarter of 2023. Other major cities like Linz and Klagenfurt saw similar spikes.

Unlike condo prices, there's no "official" data source for rental prices in Austria. Immoscout24 relies on asking rents advertised on their platform, which may not reflect final negotiated prices. Additionally, Statistics Austria's data focuses on existing rental agreements, often established years ago, and may not capture the current market trends. The Austrian Chamber of Commerce gathers rental prices through estate agents, but this data is published annually and may not reflect rapid fluctuations.

Holger Bonin, Managing Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), acknowledges a 17 percent rent increase since 2020. He proposes targeted support for low-income renters through housing benefits and discourages a general rent cap, fearing it might also benefit those who don't necessarily need it.

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Austrian court approves incest rapist Fritzl's transfer to regular prison

An Austrian court said Tuesday it had approved the transfer of incest rapist Josef Fritzl to a regular prison as the 89-year-old was now unlikely to commit a crime.

Fritzl, who has changed his name, repeatedly raped his daughter he locked in a cellar for over 24 years, fathering seven children with her.

Served with a life sentence in 2019, Fritzl has been held in prison for the mentally ill who pose a high degree of danger in Krems, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Vienna.

In a ruling published Tuesday, the Krems regional court said Fritzl "can be transferred... to normal detention" since he "no longer poses a danger that requires placement" in a prison psychiatric unit.

It noted Fritzl's "advanced dementia and physical decline" and said he was "no longer likely to commit a criminal offence with serious consequences".

It also set a 10-year probation period.


Bicycle messengers strike for higher wages

Food delivery services in Vienna will slow down today as bike couriers strike from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The action follows stalled collective bargaining negotiations between the Vida union and delivery companies Foodora and Lieferando.

The union demands an 8.7 percent pay rise for the roughly 2,000 delivery workers, citing rising inflation and current wages that barely scrape above the poverty line. The companies, however, are offering a significantly lower 5.8% increase.

Vida union bargaining chief Toni Pravdic criticises the employers' lack of willingness to address inflation concerns. "The net monthly wage for a full-time job is just below the poverty line," he said.


Cannabis detected in pancakes that sickened Austrian family

Authorities believe a family in Obertrum (Flachgau) may have been accidentally poisoned by cannabis-laced pancakes.

The family was hospitalised on April 22nd after suffering nausea, dizziness, and other symptoms of intoxication following a meal together.  Tests revealed elevated THC levels in the blood of four adults.

A recent analysis of leftover food confirmed the presence of cannabis in the spinach pancakes they had eaten.  However, how the drug ended up in the meal remains a mystery.

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