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RENTING

Renting in Austria: How much can the landlord ask for as a deposit?

There are a lot of upfront costs when renting in Austria, and one of them is the 'Kaution' or deposit. Even though you should get it back at the end of your tenancy, it's worth making sure you're not being overcharged.

Apartment
You might be happy for your apartment to be on the high side, but not the deposit. Photo: Dimitry Anikin/Unsplash

When you rent your Austrian apartment, there are a few costs to expect, including the rent itself, the estate agents’ commission or Provision, and the deposit or Kaution. Of these, the deposit is the one that should be returned to you at the end of the tenancy.

The deposit is the fee paid by the tenant to the landlord as security against any damages. This means the landlord can keep it if you fail to pay your rent, or if you cause any damage to the apartment. 

There is no law that says a tenant must pay a deposit, and if you do, it needs to be agreed in your rental contract — legally, the landlord is not able to ask you for a deposit after you’ve signed the contract. But it’s very rare that you won’t be asked for one upfront!

READ ALSO: How much can estate agents charge in commission?

There are legal limits on how much they can ask for, so don’t get ripped off.

The usual deposit is three months’ gross monthly rent.

That means three times the sum of your rent (Gesamtmiete) plus VAT (MwSt in German, 10 percent of the rent) plus operating costs (Betriebskosten). The latter covers things like waste disposal and maintenance of common areas.

Three months’ rent is by far the most common level of deposit you’ll see, but by law, the landlord is allowed to charge up to a maximum of six months’ rent. If you are charged more than three months’ rent as a deposit, it’s worth asking your landlord why, and seeing if you can negotiate a lower fee. It might help if you have documents to prove you’ll be able to pay the rent on time, such as a fixed employment contract or positive references from previous landlords.

READ ALSO: The vocab you need to understand apartment ads

To go higher than six months’ rent as a deposit, they need a special reason, for example if there is extremely valuable furniture in the apartment.

Even if your rent is increased during your tenancy, your landlord can’t demand extra money to ‘top up’ the deposit (making it equal to three months’ gross rent at the new figure) unless you agree to this in writing.

If you’re moving in somewhere that already has furniture and/or appliances like a washing machine, you may need to pay a one-time fee for these, called the Ablöse, which is not a deposit — it means that you then own the furniture.

READ ALSO: How to find out if you are paying too much rent in Vienna

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For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

Retiring to Austria to spend time in fresh alpine air is a dream for many people, but who is actually eligible to retire to the Alpine Republic? Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

People from all over the world can retire to Austria, but unlike some other European countries, Austria does not have a residence permit tailored to retirees.

This means anyone wanting to retire to Austria has to go through the standard immigration channels, with different rules for EU and non-EU citizens.

Here’s what you need to know about retirement in Austria and who is eligible to retire in the Alpine Republic.

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

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as an EU citizen?

The process for citizens from EU and EEA countries to retire in Austria is relatively simple due to freedom of movement across the bloc.

There are a few rules though.

To stay in the Austria for longer than three months, retirees will need to be able to support themselves financially (e.g. through a pension) and have sufficient health insurance.

When it comes to accessing a pension from another EU member state, this is typically taken care of by an insurance provider in Austria who will deal with the approval process between the states. Access to public healthcare in Austria is also available to all EU/EEA citizens.

Currently the pension age in Austria is 60 for women and 65 for men. More information about pensions in Austria can be found on the European Commission website.

FOR MEMBERS: Five reasons to retire in Austria

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as a non-EU citizen?

The most popular visa route for non-EU retirees hoping to live out their golden years in the Austrian Alps or the grandeur of Vienna is to apply for a settlement permit

This is issued to people that do not intend to work in Austria and is referred to as “except gainful employment” (Niederlassungsbewilligung – ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) by Austrian immigration.

To qualify for the settlement permit, applicants must prove they have sufficient funds, comprehensive health insurance and a place to live.

Proof of sufficient funds means applicants must have a regular monthly income from a pension, profits from enterprises abroad, income from assets, savings or company shares. 

The minimum amount is €1,030.49 for a single person, or €1,625.71 for married couples or those in a partnership. 

READ ALSO: Baking away solitude: Vienna cafe hopes to unite world’s grandmas

Third-country nationals also have to provide evidence of basic German language skills at Level A1, in line with the Common European Framework of References for Languages. The diploma must be no older than one year when submitted with the application.

However, the application process will be entirely in German so for people that don’t have advanced German language skills, it’s best to hire an English-speaking immigration lawyer.

Additionally, Austria has a social security agreement with several non-EU states, including the UK, Canada and the USA. This allows some people to access their pension directly from Austria, depending on the agreement.

Again, it can be useful to find an English-speaking advisor to help with the bureaucratic part of accessing a pension in Austria if you don’t have strong German language skills.

After five years of living in Austria with a settlement permit, visa holders can then apply for permanent residence.

Want information on pensions? Then check out the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

Useful vocabulary

Retirement – Ruhestand

Pension – Rente

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Health insurance – Krankenkasse

Settlement permit – Niederlassungsbewilligung

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