A suitable accommodation can be difficult to find in Upper Austria and as a newcomer it is even harder to get an overview. In this guide we try to give you the basic information you need in your search for a place to live.
Places to live in
- When you are looking for an accommodation, it is a good idea to think about your wishes as far as the location, size and costs are concerned and the possibilities available to you:
- What finances are available to you now and in the future?
- What will your fixed monthly costs (such as one-off payments, rent, monthly utilities, heating, electricity, Internet) be?
- Are you entitled to financial subventions?
- How long will you need the flat for?
- How many people will reside in the residence?
- Will your family grow within the next few years?
- Which rooms are essential?
- Do you want a fixed term rental agreement or an indefinite rental agreement?
- What should be in the immediate vicinity (job, supermarket, kindergarten, school, public transport, leisure facilities, etc.)
In addition to rental and owner-occupied apartments, there is a combined form (Mietkaufwohnung), in which you first rent an apartment and can later buy it. There is also the possibility of renting or buying a house or staying at a hostel or in guest-house “Gasthaus” for the first time.
How to find an accommodation
- From a housing company or a cooperative housing society
- From a private property developer
- From a real estate agent or a real estate office
- In the private market (newspaper advertisements, internet, colleagues, friends & acquaintances)
If you plan to stay permanently it is a good idea to sign up for an apartment in one of the housing associations. Generally you have to wait for a number of years to get an apartment. It is thereby possible to simultaneously register at different housing associations. If there are any registration fees, they will be refunded when you pay your first rent or withdraw from the registration list. You must consider that you generally cannot choose the size of the apartment which is assigned to you; that depends to a large extent on the number of people who are going to live in it.
For people who urgently need an apartment the private housing market is the place to turn to. Generally the prices for apartments are higher there and the rental contracts are for a limited period of time only.
Tips on how to search for a flat/house:
- Read the advertisements (in newspapers, online) regularly
- Check billboards in supermarkets, municipality offices, universities, etc
- Arrange an appointment to see the apartment as quickly as possible, since low-cost apartments are in great demand
- Think of the fee that real estate agents charge for their service
Costs of an apartment/house
If you rent or buy an apartment or house, you have to pay a number of one-time costs:
- Deposit (Kaution): The amount of deposit is usually a matter of agreement and amounts to two or three monthly rental payments. It has to be paid by the tenant and covers the costs in case the tenant does not pay his monthly rent or damages the apartment. If the apartment is given back to the owner in the condition agreed to in the rental contract, the owner has to return the deposit. To save disputes over deductions from the deposit, you should record the condition of the flat/house accurately (e.g. through photos) at the move-in and move-out.
- Agent’s fee (Vermittlungsprovision): Often a real estate agent finds an apartment for a tenant and is paid a fee for his/her services. Always ask beforehand whether a fee will be charged and if so, how high it will be.
- Fee-Charging (Vergebührung): A fee must be paid to your local tax office for a rental agreement. Its amount generally depends on the costs of the rent. It is usually paid by the tenant.
Every month the following costs have to be paid for a rental apartment:
- Rent and operating costs: the operating expenses are for sewage, water, garbage collection, etc. The rent and operating expenses always have to be paid for the following month at the beginning of the month.
- Costs of electricity and heating: The expenses for electricity and heating depend to a large extent on how much you use. They are paid in installments and once a year the customer receives an annual invoice on which the charges for the following year are determined. A price comparison among different providers could be worthwhile.
- Television and radio: Every household has to register its television and radio at the “Gebühren Info Service / GIS” (www.gis.at) and pay a fee for it (monthly, quarterly or yearly). If the income of the household is low, an exemption from this fee can be obtained. Extra costs can incur for a cable TV access.
- Internet: Additional costs incur for access to internet. Check the offers of the different providers before signing a contract.
- Household insurance: It is important to take out household insurance for an apartment. It the apartment is for example, damaged by water or fire, the insurance covers the costs. If you do not have household insurance you have to assume the expenses for the necessary repairs yourself, and that can be very expensive. Consult an insurance broker about a suitable household insurance.
- Parking: sometimes you have to pay extra for a parking place. Some cities also offer resident parking cards (Bewohnerparkkarte). You can park your car in the short term parking zones in your immediate residential area for an annual fee.
Budget – how much should you expect to pay?
It is difficult to say how much you should expect to pay. Prices depend on location and on conditions of the apartment.
- Apartments for rent: about € 7,– to € 10,– per m², depending whether it is a new or old building, the location, number of rooms and if a balcony or a lift are available. Most of the time you have to pay extra for electricity, TV and internet. Apartments are normally unfurnished, but often you can replace furniture (especially built-in kitchens) from the previous tenant.
- House for rent: depending whether it is a new or old building, the location and the size of the house.
Good to know…
You should conclude your rental agreement in written form. Only then are you legally protected and can among other things apply for financial assistance, for example housing benefits (Wohnbeihilfe). Rental agreements could be limited (e.g. for three years) or unlimited. It the rental agreement is only concluded for a certain period of time, make sure that you, the renter, have the possibility of giving notice if you decide to vacate the flat/house.
Please read the rental contract carefully before signing:
- Ask if a condition is unclear
- Keep a written record of all oral agreements
- Name and address of the landlord should be mentioned in the contract
- Describe the hired object and its accessories (e.g. cellar compartment, car parking space) and inventory exactly and assert all shortcomings
- Define clearly the start date of rent, duration and amount of rent
- Let you confirm all costs (deposit, transfer, etc.) in writing
- Ask for a copy of the rental agreement
Termination of rent
You should terminate your rental contract in written form in accordance with the cancellation period. When you handover the flat/house in proper condition, you get your deposit back.
EEA citizens and Austrian citizens can under certain conditions apply for housing benefits of the Province of Upper Austria.
Citizens of third countries can apply for housing benefits if
- they have had their primary residence in Austria for more than five years legally and without interruption and
- their earnings are subjected to Austrian income tax or they have paid money into the compulsory social insurance in Austria as the result of a previous employment and are now deriving benefits from it.
Further information about housing benefits can be found on the website of the Province of Upper Austria (www.land-oberoesterreich.gv.at ->Förderung)
Usually flats are unfurnished, but there is often the possibility to undertake furniture (particularly the kitchen) from the previous tenant according to its actual cash value. If you must purchase a kitchen and other home furnishings, please keep in mind that the general waiting period after ordering new furniture at a furnishing store can be a number of weeks.
Estate agents have a good overview of flats and houses on the market and can help you to find a suitable accommodation rapidly. In general estate agents charge two gross monthly rents for unlimited rental contracts and limited contracts with duration over three years. If your rental contract is limited to a maximum of three years, they are only allowed to charge one gross monthly rent.
You can get a list of English speaking estate agents at the “Service for international key professionals” (Servicestelle für Schlüsselkräfte)
Registration of your residence
In Austria any change in one’s place of residence has to be registered at the registration office (Meldeamt), which is located in city hall (Rathaus) or in the offices of the local/municipal authorities (Gemeindeamt) within three days. The new apartment can be registered as the main or the second apartment. The main place of residence is the one that a person has the closest association to.