Renting a property in Vienna

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Over 95 percent of flats in Vienna are rented through real estate agents. Expats can either opt to find an agent to help them in their property search and provide them with information of different suburbs, or they can search newspaper listings and approach the representing agent themselves. 

If you have your own agent she will likely show you flats that she has listed as she will then get 100 percent of the commission, as opposed to splitting it with the other agent. If you are searching on your own and manage to get a call back, and arrange a showing, consider yourself lucky. Do not be surprised when the agent acts as if they are doing you a favour, and do not be late! Many expats have reported a biased against non-German speakers, and more specifically against non-Austrians.

What to expect


Most flats will come unfurnished, unless otherwise specified, and it is not uncommon to find them without kitchens. Unless you are planning to stay indefinitely, look for ads that specify a full kitchen. The washing machine hook-up will often be in the kitchen or bathroom. Dryers are not commonly used in Vienna and therefore some buildings provide drying rooms to hang laundry.

The building will either be a traditional old Viennese style with high ceilings and parquet floors, or a new build with lower ceilings, new floors, and new windows.
Both have their charms and advantages. Consider:
  • Old windows are drafty, tend to rattle (Vienna is a very windy city at times) and incur higher heating costs.
  • High ceilings are lovely but the rooms are more expensive to heat.
  • Old floors are lovely but they creak and are not as well insulated and can be problematic with noise from above, or if you have children, complaints from below.
  • The old Viennese apartments are truly beautiful with their panelled doors and wrought iron balconies and large rooms. They are cooler in the summer months.
Of course, if you are truly fortunate, you will find an old style building with a renovated flat! But be prepared to empty your pocketbook.

Leases


Leases usually run for 5-10 years. Vienna is not a city for transients - people tend to stay put. This is enforced by:
  • Two to three month commission fees paid to secure an apartment
  • Two to three month equivalent deposit that will cover any damage to the unit. You will have to negotiate to get it back. So take care of the unit, if any damage occurs report it immediately and make sure photos are taken upon moving in, and a detailed list of the state of the apartment is made.
  • You can get out of a lease after 15 months, three months after the end of the first year. But you will have to state in writing your desire to vacate. If your employment requires you to leave, you can get out of a lease early. This requires official documentation from your employer.
If you aren’t sure how long you will be staying, look for short term, furnished apartments.

Read the lease carefully and if necessary have it translated. The tenant is responsible for appliance repairs and maintenance. Although laws are changing to protect the tenant you will need to be aware of what they are because the landlord has ruled in Vienna for a very long time!

Buying vs. renting


It has been said that 80 percent of people in Vienna rent, as opposed to buying. Buying is an option if you plan to stay awhile, otherwise it isn’t wise. The housing market isn’t designed for quick turnarounds, nor is it designed to make money from renting out your flat. Income taxes hover around 50 percent on income from rental properties. So unless you own the property outright, you will not see a profit.

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