Rent control in Europe: Austria

Population: 8,662,588 GDP: $386,227,000,000 Avg. Weekly Earnings: €531.00 Avg. Apartment Price (Per. Sq. M.): €10,807.00 For 120-sq. m. apartment in city centre Avg. Monthly Rent: €872.58

The next stop on our trip across Europe, analysing rent control policies and their effects on property markets, takes us to Austria. The Austrian housing market is complicated, even amongst European Union nations which boasts a number of improperly functioning housing markets. However, where many states in the EU began a comprehensive re-evaluation of their housing policy, Austria has failed to do so effectively.

Austrian tenancy protection laws and rent controls stem from the First World War, and despite the changing situation and the decreased shortage of housing, these rules are still in effect. As a result, there exists in Austria a two class society among tenants and landlords, of those whose tenancy is determined by ABGB (General Civil Code) or the newer MRG (Tenancy Statute).

Austrian tenancy laws are plagued by exceptions and counter-exceptions, and as a result, are quite complicated for the average tenant to understand and apply to their situation. Furthermore, …

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Contracts, not silly rules, are the better form of rent regulation

Something often forgotten are the lessons from history, in recent debates about spiralling rents and other such issues, the one thing that almost never gets mentioned is the power of contracts.

Instead we talk about ‘rent freezes’, ‘rent certainty’ and many other such buzzwords but we overlook the obvious, which in this case is something that goes all the way back to the Land Act of 1881 which Irish people struggled so hard to obtain.

It is the idea of ‘dual ownership’, and it celebrates a 135th year birthday this year.

Dual ownership is the idea that two people can ‘own’ something, albeit in different ways, the idea was also key to Gladstone’s appeasement of the Irish Land League at the time, it was also good idea which has stood the test of time.

Land courts determined fair rents and ‘fixity of tenure’ (one of the ‘three F’s’) was guaranteed by the power of the contract which, as long as the rent was being paid, meant that you couldn’t be evicted.

That power has endured, even today we know of …

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