I moved to Austria four years ago and, while finding an affordable apartment in Vienna took longer than I expected, the paperwork required to rent an apartment in Austria is actually quite minimal.
If you will be renting an apartment in this beautiful country for the first time, here are the things I was asked to provide. Things pretty much every Austrian landlord will ask for before they will allow you to sign a lease.
And, by the way, you are better preparing all of this information before you head out on your apartment hunt.
That way, if you do find a flat you like, and 30 other people like it too, you will be ahead of most of them if you already have your paperwork in hand.
An application to rent
I looked at more than 35 apartments in Vienna before I could find one I liked and that a landlord would rent to me. In at least 25 of those cases, the landlord asked me to complete a rental application if I was interested in their property.
Most were just one or two sheets of paper asking for basic information, and took less than five minutes to complete.
Proof of identity
For most people who have just moved to Austria, their proof of identity will be their passport.
If you have an EU identity card, you can use that too and, if you are already licensed to drive in Austria, a drivers license will work for some landlords.
To be on the safeside though, take your passport with you along with a photocopy in case your landlord needs one for his/her records.
Only hand that over, however, when you have been told the apartment is yours.
Proof of earnings
All Austrian landlords will ask for proof of earnings and your employment status. This will usually mean they want an employment contract, your tax information from the previous year or a current salary slip. Some might ask for 3-4 months’ worth.
Most landlords expect you to be able to prove that you earn three times the amount of your monthly rent.
When I rented my apartment in Vienna, as I am self-employed and had just arrived, I gave my landlady my previous tax information from the United States and explained I had the same income sources while living in Austria.
She didn’t have a problem with that. Especially as my income was quite a bit more than what she required.
Some landlords may be very rigid in their requirements though, and may only accept income information from a job based in Austria. So do not be surprised if you miss an apartment because someone else had the exact paperwork the landlord expected and you did not.
If that does happen, just keep looking as that flat was obviously not meant to be yours.
I have a couple of friends living in Vienna who can easily afford to pay their 800 euro a month rent, but do not make the 2,400 euros a month their landlord required.
In that case, they asked a family member to be a guarantor and their landlord accepted the letter of guarantee that person happily signed.
In some cases, a landlord will only accept a letter of guarantee from someone in Austria, so you may have to keep looking for another apartment if your income is not three times your rent and the landlord is not comfortable with an overseas guarantor.
Your bank account information
The paperwork required to rent an apartment in Austria also includes a copy of your bank account details.
Most landlords expect to be paid via bank transfer every month, and want to be sure you have an Austrian bank account already set up to do that.
A character reference
I was only asked for a character reference from one landlord whose apartment I viewed, and I was not interested in his apartment anyway.
Some Austrian landlords will ask you for a character reference, however, especially if you are new in the country.
In this instance, you can usually ask an Austrian friend to vouch for you or, if you have a previous landlord who loved you, they will often suffice as well.
Rent x 4 months
In most cases, an Austrian landlord will ask for a total of at least four months rent.
The first month to pay for the first month you live in the flat, plus three more months as the deposit. The three months’ amount will be returned to you when you move out, and if you have not caused any major damage to the flat.
Do be aware, though, Austrian law does not mandate a fixed deposit amount, so it is not unheard of for Austrian landlords to ask for six months’ rent up front.
This can definitely be the case if they perceive you to be a ‘bad risk’ (new in the country, not Austrian, a lower-income paying job, self-employed etc).
You will usually be asked to pay the deposit either by cash (I paid cash!) or by check.
Just be sure to ask for a receipt if you pay with cash.
In most cases, this is the only paperwork required to rent an apartment in Austria. Some landlords may ask for additional things, but weigh up carefully whether you want to provide them as, in most cases, they are not legally mandated.
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