Apartments may now only be rented to tourists for 90 days in Vienna
Vienna’s building regulations are being tightened: the rental of Airbnb apartments is to be further restricted. Exceptions must be applied for. The tourist industry is pleased
Around 7.5 million overnight stays were recorded in Vienna in the first half of 2023, meaning that the federal capital has already almost reached the pre-Corona level again (94 percent), according to Wien Tourismus. Nine out of ten Viennese also have a fundamentally positive attitude toward tourism in the city, Walter Straßer, spokesman for Vienna Tourism, quotes from surveys that his company has regularly commissioned since 2017.
Among the remaining ten percent are likely to be people who repeatedly encounter vacationers in their own homes – often to their chagrin, because those on vacation don’t care much about nighttime quiet hours, proper trash disposal, and the neighborhood in general.
Ban in residential zones since 2018
As before, vacationers can also be found in so-called residential zones, where there is actually a ban on tourist rentals of apartments since 2018. But this was not very easy to enforce. Only “in individual cases” had it been possible to “try to prove violations of this ban,” and in doing so, one was mostly dependent on “notifications or information from private individuals,” according to the explanatory notes to the currently ongoing Vienna Building Code Amendment, which should come into force at the turn of the year.
And also from an urban planning point of view, the residential zone regulation was counterproductive, says Neos housing spokeswoman Selma Arapović. Because this had created “enormous pressure from the districts to provide for generous residential zones in zoning projects.” But that was overshooting the mark, because the city wanted “no dormitory towns” but a “city of short distances” with trade and commerce. Residential zones rule this out.
No more difference
So it is not the residential zones that will be increased, but the existing ban on tourist rentals will be extended to all apartments. “The planned new regulation no longer distinguishes between apartments inside and outside residential zones,” explains Viennese lawyer Markus Busta. According to the draft, this will take effect on July 1, 2024: from then on, the tourist rental of an apartment for longer than a total of 90 days a year will only be possible with an exceptional permit.
Busta calls this “a step to restore the balance between the tourism sector and the housing market.” He says it is important “that owners continue to have the option of renting out their apartment while they are away without affecting the long-term housing market.” Own residence in the apartment must be maintained during this period.
Additional expenditure due to exceptions
Exemption permits are granted for five years, provided that the residential building in question was built without housing subsidies and is not located in a residential zone. Furthermore, such an exception is granted for a maximum of half of the apartments in a house.
So should Airbnb landlords seek approval as soon as possible? According to the explanatory notes to the draft, the city is expecting an onslaught – and a corresponding impact on staffing requirements at the building police (MA 37). This is based on the exactly 8871 Viennese apartments that were offered on Airbnb alone in 2019. “If an exemption permit were requested for only 3000 of these apartments in the very first year, the authorities would have an increased staff requirement of 14.28 employees,” it is calculated. In subsequent years, a third of that is calculated.
And also the personnel expenditure for administrative penalties is likely to increase in the magistrate’s office, because the amendment to the building code also contains extended control options. Already since 2017, there has been an obligation to pay the local tax for short-term rentals. However, the exchange of data between the building and tax authorities has so far left much to be desired. In the future, this should work better.
Return to Airbnb’s “founding narrative”.
The amendment is viewed critically by the Haus- und Grundbesitzerbund (ÖHGB). The free disposal of personal property should be preserved as a high good, says President Martin Prunbauer. The limit must be “where commercial accommodation begins” and the offer is therefore “in competition with the hotel industry”.
However, the hoteliers’ association is quite relaxed about Airbnb and the like. In the past, the prices on the platforms were “inadequate”, but now the difference to the hotel industry is small, says spokesman Martin Stanits.
Vienna Tourism welcomes the changes. “The planned amendment returns the platform economy to its founding narrative, so to speak, and will help to ensure that entire apartments or entire houses are no longer completely removed from the housing market,” says spokesman Walter Straßer. And that, in turn, “also pays into the population’s acceptance of tourism.” (Martin Putschögl, 8/22/2023)
New rules for Airbnb and for apartment owners.
From July 1, 2024, you will need a permit if you want to rent out your Viennese apartment to tourists for more than 90 days a year. The apartment must have been built without housing subsidies, so it will not be possible to obtain such a permit for cooperative apartments (including those purchased with an option to buy). And the house must not be located in a residential zone. Whether this is the case can be seen in the digital development plan; residential zones are dotted in red.
An application for a special permit must also be accompanied by proof that there is agreement among the co-owners in the building for the tourist rental. This should not be a problem in those (newer) houses where commercial rental is already permitted to all owners in the condominium agreement. However, this will be rather difficult to achieve in many other condominium properties. (mapu)
Translated from the German:
Source: Der standard Martin Putschögl