If you are not planning to stay in Vienna for at least a year, or while you are searching for longer-term housing, it may make more sense to reside in a short-term to mid-term furnished apartment (subject to Type I tenancy rules, [see Renting, Types of accommodation]. Such “business apartments” or holiday rentals can be more cost-effective than staying in hotels.
Airbnb – the online brokerage for short-term rentals – is a popular source for tourists and newcomers alike. In recent years, the regulations regarding letting out a private apartment to tourists have become stricter and “hosts” must comply with tenancy laws. If you intend to live in one for longer than two months, you will need to obtain a residence registration certificate (Meldezettel) for that address, so make sure your Airbnb host will agree to sign the official application form.
Sublet Apartments for short-term rental in Vienna
If a landlord owns the building or apartment or is the leaseholder of the entire building, then a rental agreement is considered a primary lease (Hauptmiete).
All other landlord-tenant agreements are considered subleases/sublets (Untermiete).
What right does a primary tenant have to sublet a rental property?
Austrian contract law [ABGB] allows a primary tenant (Hauptmieter) to sublet part or all of the property. This is only possible if the main lease doesn’t otherwise prohibit this.
But what if a primary tenant wants to sublet a flat / room to one or more roommates? Though most leases do prohibit sublets, a landlord cannot legally prohibit subletting as long as the primary tenant:
- Continues to reside in the apartment and pay rent;
- Doesn’t charge the subtenant(s) rent disproportionally higher than the main lease rent;
- Doesn’t sublet to more subtenants than there are extra rooms in the apartment;
- Can assure that the subtenant(s) do not disturb the peace of the other tenants/owners in the building.
If the primary tenant does not meet any of these conditions, however, a landlord may terminate his lease.
If a landlord allows a primary tenant to sublet the entire property, property law (MRG) regulates the rent. In this case, it cannot exceed 150 percent of the primary tenant’s rent. The rent charged to a subtenant can include:
- allocation of operating costs,
- fees for using fixtures and furnishings,
- extra charge for any improvements the primary tenant has made,
- and tax.
Generally, the same rights available to a primary tenant are extended to a subtenant. However, a primary tenant (sublessor) can evict a subtenant by proving that the latter violates important interests of the primary tenant.
Subleases are automatically terminated if the main lease is terminated. The primary tenant must provide notice of the lease termination to the subtenants. If the primary tenant gives up his/her main lease before its termination, he or she must compensate the subtenants for the premature termination of their sublease.
Not all MRG rights available to a primary tenant extend to a subtenant. However, a sublessor does not have to furnish subtenants with an accounting of operating costs.
Beware of sham sublets! (Scheinuntermiete) – Risks with Short-Term Rentals in Vienna
Sometimes, a landlord will try to skirt MRG tenancy laws regulating Type III apartments [see Renting, Types of Accommodation] by offering a sublease instead of the main lease to a tenant. The landlord might claim that a family member is actually the primary tenant.
If the subtenant has evidence that the alleged “primary tenant” never occupied the premises, the subtenant can appeal to an arbitration board or court to change the main lease.
There is no official law either prohibiting or allowing this. Rather it is subject to negotiation with the landlord.